Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images
This morning, USA Hockey unveiled their preliminary roster for the 2013 National Junior Team, which will represent our nation in Ufa, Russia at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship from Dec.26th-Jan. 5th, 2013. In all, 27 players will attend the training camp which starts in less than 2 weeks in New York. There are 13 states which are represented, including the great state of Texas with Plymouth Whalers’ forward and 2011 first-round draft pick for the Ottawa Senators, Stefan Noesen along with defenseman Seth Jones who is currently with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL, both whom hail from Plano, a suburb of Dallas.
Noesen has been very consistent in his junior career, averaging an eyelash over a point a game (1.02) in what amounts to 3 ½ seasons. So far for the 2012-2013 campaign, Stefan is 3rd on the team with 24 points, however the two ahead of him have played 4 and 3 games more than him, respectively. Not a rookie to big games, which the US will face at every step during the IIHF World tourney, Stefan in his 18 career playoff games has 26 total points, half of which are goals.
Seth Jones, who is considered by some to be a number one overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has 20 points in 26 games for the Winterhawks. What’s most impressive is Jones is a plus-22 rating, proving his value to his team on both ends of the ice. This past off season, Jones represented the United States as they took the gold medal at the World Under-18 Championships held in the Czech Republic where he was selected as one of the best players for the US as selected by the coaches.
Other players who have been selected to represent their respective teams that have Dallas connections are Brett Ritchie, 2nd round draft pick of the Stars in 2011 who is lighting up the lamp on a nearly-every game clip for the Niagara Ice Dogs. The number one draft pick for Dallas from this summer’s draft, Radek Faksa will represent the Czech Republic as Esa Lindell, the 74th overall pick for Dallas will play for Team Finland while Emil Molin will represent Sweden as he was taken by Dallas in the 4th round (105th overall).
The future of the Dallas Stars will see the best competition over the next month, culminating with what they hope is the ultimate prize from representing one’s country: a gold medal. Furthermore, the foundation that was established with the Stars’ move from Minnesota will start yielding talent. Many of those that are of age to start joining their national teams were born in the year or two surrounding the North Stars coming to Dallas. The fan base and availability of hockey to those here in Texas which has grown exponentially will be able to reach the higher levels of competition.
We could even see several homegrown talents in the NHL…if the NHL ever decides to remove the padlocks and unlock the players.