Gophers defenseman Ryan Collins earned an invitation to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp on Thursday. The sophomore from Bloomington, Minn., will be one of 39 players, including three other Minnesotans, competing for a roster spot on the U.S. National Junior Team and a role at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland.
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Jack Dougherty (St. Paul), WHL forward Paul Bittner (Crookston), and incoming North Dakota forward Brock Boeser (Burnsville) are also among the invitees that will train together at the evaluation camp in Lake Placid, New York, Aug. 1-8.
The World Junior Championship will be held Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Helsinki, Finland.
Collins is one of 11 players returning from the 2015 U.S. National Junior Team and played in all five games for last year's squad. For the Gophers, he played in 32 games recording nine points (one goal, eight assists) as a freshman.
The Gophers received five invitations to last year's U.S. evaluation camp (Hudson Fasching, Taylor Cammarata, Vinni Lettieri, Michael Brodzinski, Collins). Fasching and Collins earned spots on the final roster. Gophers Swedish freshman Leon Bristedt competed with Team Sweden.
The Big Ten has four representatives with Collins, Dougherty, Josh Jacobs (Michigan State) and Zach Werenski (Michigan).
The U.S. has medaled in three of the last six IIHF World Junior Championships, including winning gold in 2010 and 2013.