By Mark Allred Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
The 2017 IIHF World Championship Tournament is set to kick off this Friday, May 5, 2017, and ends with the final games on Sunday, May 21, 2017, from two European locations. This year’s festivities will be held at the AccorHotels Arena (Capacity: 15,000) in Paris, France, and Lanxess Arena (Capacity: 18,500) in Cologne, Germany. The 16 country event will be split into “A” and “B” groups with teams such as Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia. Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United States representing Group “A” while Belarus, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Norway, Slovenia, and Switzerland will represent Group “B.”
The United States team historically hasn’t been very successful earning gold medals in these annual games dating back to the origins of the tournament in 1920 earning two Gold Medals, Nine Silver Medals, and seven Bronze Medals. This year’s team looks poised to make a serious run with names like Nick Bjugstad, Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Dylan Larkin, Noah Hanifin, Jacob Trouba and more look to change history as the last Gold Medal for Team USA was won in 1960.
Young Boston Bruins prospects Anders Bjork and Charlie McAvoy who were added to this year’s roster will also look to add speed and skill to an already previously mentioned lineup. Both were eligible after their respected teams were finished for the season.
Charlie McAvoy has been added to Team USA’s roster for the upcoming 2017 IIHF Men’s World Championship: https://t.co/tEnBElj7dN
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) April 27, 2017
Anders Bjork will join classmate Cal Petersen & Irish alum Anders Lee on Team USA for the upcoming IIHF Men’s World Championship! #GoIrish pic.twitter.com/iASPC35jgW
— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) April 17, 2017
The University of Norte Dame forward had a career year with the Fighting Irish in his 2016-17 Junior season earning him Hockey East First-Team All-Star and a finalist for the NCAA Hobey Baker Award as one of 10 of the nation’s best collegiate hockey players. In 39 games this season he posted 21-31-52 numbers ranking him in a three-way tie for ninth in national scoring (Leaders: 3 tied at #1 with 63 points) while leading his Irish team in individual points possessing 1.33 point-per-game average.
The 6′-0″ 185-pound center/left wing has had an impressive career in South Bend, Indiana thus far scoring 109 points in 115 games for a player selected in the fifth round of the 2014 National Hockey League Entry Draft. The 20-year-old Mequon, Wisconsin native was highly speculated to sign with the NHL Bruins as soon as his season was over with Notre Dame and after what seemed to be “stalled” negotiations he jumped at the opportunity to represent his country to possibly get the experience of playing with other professionals that will also join him in the 16 day tournament.
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Although talks between the Bjork camp and B’s Management will continue throughout the summer offseason, it’s leaning towards the player returning for his senior year with the Fighting Irish but it’s also not out of the realm for him to surprise anyone and turn pro before the 2017-18 NHL season starts as his decision will most likely depend on roster availability.
There aren’t enough words to say about this highly skilled defensive player who’s been on the radar of many professional scouts for a few years now but since his draft year landed in the laps of Bruins fans and the emergence of McAvoy Madness. The 6′-1″ 212-pound Long Beach, New York native has had an impressive 2016-17 hockey season playing in three different levels as he continues his development and a key asset in building a defensive core for the foreseeable future.
Selected in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft after his first season of NCAA hockey at Boston University which he saw action in 37 games posting 3-22-25 numbers. He would go onto an outstanding 2016-17 year making a sophomore year at BU contributing 26 points in 38 games (5-21-26). He would go on to join Team USA in the World Juniors Tournament where he helped the Americans win gold with six points in seven contests. He also played four games in the American Hockey League earning two assists and got the call due to injuries to the NHL with the Bruins in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs where he earned three assists in six games.
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Now it’s time for the 19-year-old to continue to work with an assortment of different aged professionals as he adds another experience to an already impressive resume. After this tournament, it’s believed the young man will report to the annual B’s development camp for the second time and continue to hone his skills in many summer offseason workouts as he prepares to earn a permanent roster spot with training camp coming up in September. With his play in all levels last season and departures of defensive players on the current Bruins roster, it’s hard to not believe he won’t be a shoe in for a lengthy NHL career starting next season.
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