Juniors will see plenty of Wild action

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 12, 2011 - 7:20 AM

Six of the team's prospects are all but locks to play for their countries in the world junior championships, which highlight the best under-20 hockey players in the world.

hide

Denver sophomore Jason Zucker, left, picked 59th overall in 2010, should be a mainstay on the U.S. team in the world juniors. “Jason Zucker doesn’t have a real weakness to his game,” U.S. coach Dean Blais said. The championship game will be played Jan. 5 in Calgary.

Photo: Mark Reis, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The world junior championships is a cultural phenomenon in Canada -- like March Madness in the United States -- but something that hasn't caught on even in the hockey-loving U.S. mainstream yet.

This, despite the fact that two years ago, the United States, with coach Dean Blais at the helm, ended the Canadians' five-year championship run on their home turf of Saskatoon and Regina. On that team were Minnesotans Jake Gardiner, Derek Stepan, Danny Kristo, Jordan Schroeder and Mike Lee.

This month, when the tournament of what's considered the most elite under-20 hockey players in the world begins Dec. 26 and runs until Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Calgary, Wild fans will have plenty of reasons to watch.

"We have a possibility of eight guys in the tournament, which is exceptional," assistant GM Brent Flahr said. "It'll be exciting for all of us."

Six Wild prospects are all but locks -- Jason Zucker (59th overall in 2010) and Charlie Coyle (28th in 2010, acquired from San Jose) for the United States; Mikael Granlund (ninth in 2010) for Finland; and Johan Larsson (56th in 2010), Jonas Brodin (10th in 2011) and Johan Gustafsson (159th in 2010) for Sweden.

Brett Bulmer (39th in 2010) and Zack Phillips (28th in 2011) are at Canada's ultracompetitive selection camp, which began in Calgary on Sunday.

That means five of the Wild's six draft picks in 2010 and the top two in 2011 have a chance to take part in this year's tournament. Not bad for a franchise that ranked 29th in the Hockey News' "Future Watch" issues in 2010 and 2011.

"It shows a lot about this organization and the way they're drafting guys and the way those players step up when it counts," said Aeros forward Jeff Taffe, a former Gophers player from Hastings who represented the United States in the 2000 and 2001 world junior championships in Sweden and Russia.

"I know us down here, we don't take it as serious as the Canadians do. It's like a holiday up there for them. But it's a very special tournament."

In 2010, Wild defenseman Marco Scandella represented Canada and won a silver medal, losing to Zucker and the U.S. in the finals. That tournament took place in Canada, too, so he knows how much pressure will be on Canada again this year.

"Zuck and I are still buddies, but I'm jealous of him," Scandella said, laughing. "There's always pressure in hockey, and playing in such a hockey hotbed is a great situation for young players to deal with pressure. When you have the crowd behind you, you play better and you're pumped up, but it's stressful, too."

It's this experience of playing in enemy territory that makes Blais think Zucker will be valuable to this year's squad. The U.S. camp begins Saturday in Camrose, Alberta.

"Jason Zucker doesn't have a real weakness to his game," Blais said. "When he was in Saskatoon, he was just a role player, didn't get much ice time, but he gave us everything he could. ... He's a leader and he's going to rub off in a real positive way on the whole team."

Two years ago, U.S. General Manager Jim Johannson made a video to display how he wanted USA Hockey to play -- speed, transition, finishing checks.

"I could have put Jason Zucker in every single clip because he does all those things well," Johannson said.

Johannson also looks forward to seeing what Coyle can do for the Americans

"He played well for us last year in Buffalo, and we probably put him in a little bit higher role than you'd like to for a guy with the level of experience he had coming into the tournament, but he flat out earned the ice time," Johannson said. "With Charlie, the size and strength and the below-the-circle game he has can lead to being a real dominant force at this championship."

Most neat for the Wild, the team will spend the night in Banff, Alberta, on Jan. 5 -- the night of the championship in nearby Calgary.

"So you know the boys will have fun," Flahr said. "Mikko [Koivu] will be rooting for Finland, the Canada boys for Canada, the U.S. guys cheering for the U.S."

  • WILD • Up next: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Winnipeg • TV: FSN (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles 7 Top 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 6
Detroit 3 Bottom 9th Inning
Kansas City 2
Philadelphia 0 Top 1st Inning
Oakland 0
Toronto 1 Bottom 1st Inning
NY Yankees 0
Arizona 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Colorado 0
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 3rd Qtr 6:56
Colorado 21
Marshall 31 3rd Qtr 12:47
Akron 3
Louisville 0 Delayed 15:00
FIU 0
North Carolina 13 1st Qtr 3:05
East Carolina 14
Army 7 2nd Qtr 15:00
Wake Forest 7
Virginia 10 2nd Qtr 14:00
(21) BYU 3
(6) Texas A&M 17 1st Qtr 1:15
SMU 0
Rutgers 7 2nd Qtr
Navy 7
Central Mich 0 2nd Qtr
Kansas 7
Utah 10 2nd Qtr 14:39
Michigan 3
Florida 14 1st Qtr 5:51
(3) Alabama 7
Fla Atlantic 0 1st Qtr 9:00
Wyoming 0
Indiana 0 1st Qtr 8:50
(18) Missouri 0
San Jose St 0 1st Qtr 7:15
Minnesota 3
Texas State 0 1st Qtr 11:35
Illinois 6
Massachusetts 0 1st Qtr 6:28
Penn State 0
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 4:00 PM
Portland
Houston 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
New England 6:30 PM
Columbus
San Jose 6:30 PM
Montreal
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
Chicago
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close