Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last six years. He learned ice hockey, however, long before — during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah (his hometown). He got a close up look of legendary Gophers alum Herb Brooks and other Minnesota hockey greats. Jason is nearing two years with the Star Tribune.
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Mark Osiecki will be coach of the U.S. junior national hockey team this year.
The Burnsville native is a three-time assistant coach for the team, including when it won gold medals in 2010 and 2013.
The tournament is Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Montreal and Toronto. Gophers coach Don Lucia led the team last year, when it finished fifth.
"I'm thrilled to accept the role of head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team," said Osiecki in a released statement. "Each time I've been on the Team USA staff it's been an extremely rewarding experience. I will incorporate a lot of what I learned from Phil Housley, Keith Allain and Dean Blais at previous tournaments, as well as what I gained from Mike Eaves at Wisconsin. We have great emerging young talent across the country and I can't wait to start working with them in Lake Placid this August."
Osiecki is an assistant coach for the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. He was fired as Ohio State hockey coach after the 2012-13 season. He has been an assistant at his alma mater, Wisconsin, and also coached in the U.S. Hockey League.
Assistant coaches will be U.S. national development team coach Don Granato, Vermont assistant Kevin Patrick and goalie coach Mike Ayers.
Osiecki was a standout defenseman at Burnsville High School, where he played for his father, Tom; and later was an alternate captain at Wisconsin. He played two seasons in the NHL.
The U.S. junior team is selected in November. There is an August camp for the pool of candidates.
Two Gophers -- sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei and freshman forward Hudson Fasching -- played on last year's team under Lucia.