Jason Gonzalez has covered an array of sports at all levels over the last nine 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 has been with the Star Tribune since 2012.
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The Gophers will send five representatives to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., this August.
Invitations were extended to sophomore forwards Hudson Fasching, Taylor Cammarata, Vinni Lettieri, sophomore defenseman Michael Brodzinski, and incoming freshman defenseman Ryan Collins. Forty two players will attend the eight-day camp that will include international competition against Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
The players will compete for a spot on the 2015 U.S. National Junior Team and a trip to the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal, Dec. 26-Jan. 5.
Seven players return from the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team, including Fasching. Last year’s team also featured incoming junior defenseman Brady Skjei and was coached by Gophers lead man Don Lucia. The U.S. lost in the quarterfinals and finished fifth.
Fasching scored 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) on the Gophers’ first line and earned All-Big Ten freshman honors, last season. He also made a big impact at the World Junior Championships by scoring two goals and two assists.
Cammarata compiled 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) as a freshman on the Gophers’ second line. He was invited to last year’s summer evaluation camp.
Lettieri totaled eight points (two goals, six assists) as a regular on the fourth line.
Brodzinski scored 13 points (six goals, seven assists) as a freshman defenseman and played a big role in the Gophers’ postseason run. He was also invited to last year’s summer evaluation camp.
Collins, an incoming freshman defenseman, is coming off his second year with the U.S. National Developmental Team Program. He was part of a gold medal-finish in the 2014 IIHF Under-18 World Championships and has significant experience in international competition.
Minnesotans Clint Lewis (Cornell), Jack Dougherty (incoming freshman at Wisconsin), Tommy Vannelli (Medicine Hat Tigers and former Gophers recruit), Connor Hurley (incoming freshman at Notre Dame) and Keegan Iverson (Portland Winterhawks) were also invited to the summer evaluation camp.
Mark Osiecki, a Burnsville native and former Ohio State head coach, will coach this year’s National Junior Team.