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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

USA, USA. Okposo makes the team

Nineteen Players Named to 2009 U.S. Men's National Team

April 15, 2009

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey today named the first 19 players to its U.S. Men's National Team that will compete at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship in Berne and Zurich-Kloten, Switzerland, April 24-May 10.

"This is a skilled group of players who will represent the United States well," said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "It is a nice mix of veterans and newcomers to international competition that our National Team Advisory Group is looking forward to watching."

Team USA's roster features nine players who have previously played in the IIHF Men's World Championship. The group includes defensemen Keith Ballard (Baudette, Minn./Florida Panthers/University of Minnesota/2007-08, 2004), Jack Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind./Los Angeles Kings/University of Michigan/2007) and Ryan Suter (Madison, Wis./Nashville Predators/University of Wisconsin/2005-07); forwards Jason Blake (Moorhead, Minn./Toronto Maple Leafs/University of North Dakota/2000), Dustin Brown (Ithaca, N.Y./Los Angeles Kings/2008, 2006, 2004), Patrick O'Sullivan (Winston-Salem, N.C./Edmonton Oilers/2008, 2006), Drew Stafford (Milwaukee, Wis./Buffalo Sabres/University of North Dakota/2008, 2006) and Lee Stempniak (West Seneca, N.Y./Toronto Maple Leafs/Dartmouth College/2007-08); and goaltender Robert Esche (Utica, N.Y./SKA St. Petersburg/2008, 2000-01).

In addition, 12 of the 19 players are 25 years old or younger, including defensemen Zach Bogosian (Massena, N.Y./Atlanta Thrashers), Johnson, Matt Niskanen (Virginia, Minn./Dallas Stars/University of Minnesota Duluth) and Suter; forwards Brown, Nick Foligno (Buffalo, N.Y./Ottawa Senators), Peter Harrold (Kirtland Hills, Ohio/Los Angeles Kings/Boston College), Kyle Okposo (St. Paul, Minn./New York Islanders/University of Minnesota), O'Sullivan, Stafford and Colin Wilson (Greenwich, Conn./Boston University); and goaltender Al Montoya (Chicago, Ill./Phoenix Coyotes/University of Michigan).

Rounding out the first group of players named to the U.S. roster are defenseman Ron Hainsey (Bolton, Conn./Atlanta Thrashers/University of Massachusetts Lowell) and forwards Ryan Shannon (Darien, Conn./Ottawa Senators/Boston College) and Colin Stuart (Rochester, Minn./Atlanta Thrashers/Colorado College).

Team USA will face Switzerland on Tuesday (April 21) at 2:15 p.m. EDT in a pre-tournament game before beginning play in the 2009 IIHF Men's World Championship on Saturday, April 25, at 10:15 a.m. EDT against Latvia. The United States will play two additional preliminary-round games against Austria (April 27) and Sweden (April 29) before the qualification round begins.

NOTES: The average age of the first 19 players named to Team USA is 24.47 years old … All teams in the IIHF Men's World Championship may begin the tournament with 20 skaters and three defensemen, and can add two players after the first three games ... The 2009 U.S. Men's National Team is under the direction of Brian Burke, general manager; David Poile, associate general manager; and Jim Johannson, assistant executive director for hockey operations at USA Hockey. The U.S. Men's National Advisory Group, which includes Burke, Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia), Johannson, Dean Lombardi (L.A. Kings), Ray Shero (Pittsburgh) and Don Waddell (Atlanta), is charged with leading the selection of players for the U.S. Men's National Team. Tony Rossi, vice president of USA Hockey and its international council chair, oversees all aspects of international competition for USA Hockey … Ron Wilson, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, will serve as the head coach of the 2009 U.S. Men's National Team and the 2010 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team.

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982.

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