USA Hockey named its 29-man preliminary roster for the 2011 World Junior Championships today and from the looks of things, it’s hard to argue with the prevailing wisdom that the team has a great chance to contend for a second gold medal in a row.
The roster includes eight players from that gold medal winning team, highlighted by Dallas Stars prospect goalie Jack Campbell and Toronto Maple Leafs free agent pickup Jerry D’Amigo. (Other returning players include John Ramage, Ryan Bourque, Chris Kreider, Jeremy Morin, Kyle Palmieri and Jason Zucker.)
Another interesting fact about this roster is the fact that it is well-stocked with players from “non-traditional” U.S. markets. Cassie McClellan points out that there are four players from California, one from Nevada, one from Arizona and one from Texas.
It’s a roster that boasts the experience of those eight players and a slew of first round NHL prospects. If you didn’t get the chance to watch that fantastic tournament last year on NHL Network, I strongly recommend checking the games out in 2011. It’s possibly the closest thing hockey has to March Madness right now.