Fourteen NCAA players will represent Team USA in the U-20 WJC

By DJ Powers

Fourteen of the 22 players representing the United States in the upcoming U-20 World Junior Championship in Grand Forks, ND and Thief River Falls, MN are current NCAA players. Of the 14, five are returning players.

The University of Michigan has the most representation of any NCAA school with five players, followed by the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin with two each. Boston College, Boston University, Clarkson University, University of North Dakota and St. Cloud State University all have one each.

In the category of class breakdown, there is one junior, seven sophomores and six freshmen. Eleven of the 14 players have already been drafted by NHL teams. The Vancouver Canucks have the most players represented with two. Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, the New York Rangers, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and Washington all have one each.

Hockey’s Future takes a closer look at the 14 current NCAA players who will be representing Team USA. All current NCAA statistics used in this article are for all regular season, non-exhibition games played through December 12.

Goaltenders

ALVARO MONTOYA
Junior – University of Michigan
Birthdate: 1985-2-13
Hometown: Glenview, IL
NHL Draft: Selected by the New York Rangers in 2004 (6th overall, first round)

The University of Michigan junior makes a return to the World Junior Championships after backstopping Team USA to their first ever WJC U-20 gold medal last year in Finland. Last season, Montoya led Michigan all the way to the Northeast Regional Final in the Frozen Four Tournament. Along the way, he set a new Michigan single season record with six shutouts. Among the honors he earned was a selection to the All-America West and all-CCHA second teams. This season, an assistant captain for the Wolverines, Montoya has compiled a 13-4-1 record that includes two shutouts. He needs three more to tie the Michigan career shutout record, currently held by Marty Turco (15). Montoya compiled a 2.55 goals against average and .896 save percentage. His .750 winning percentage currently ranks tied for sixth in the nation.

Montoya had one of his best performances of the season back on October 29th when he went the distance, stopping all 17 shots to post a shutout win over conference rival Ferris State.

In addition to leading Team USA to a U-20 gold medal, Montoya also led the United States to a gold medal at the 2002 World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg, Manitoba as well as the 2001 Four Nations Tournament in Slovakia.

CORY SCHNEIDER
Freshman – Boston College
Birthdate: 1986-3-18
Hometown: Marblehead, MA
NHL Draft: Selected by the Vancouver Canucks in 2004 (26th overall, first round)

The Boston College freshman is one of the newcomers to this year’s U-20 WJC. Schneider is off to an excellent start, posting a 4-0-3 record. His 1.77 goals against average currently rank him tied for fourth in the nation in that category, while his .927 save percentage ranks ninth in the nation. His .786 winning percentage rank him tied for fourth in the nation. Schneider has already garnered two Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honors for the weeks ending October 25th and most recently, December 13th. His first career win came back on October 19th versus conference rival UMass-Lowell. But he had perhaps his best outing to date back on October 29th when he went to distance stopping 16 of 19 shots to hand WCHA powerhouse North Dakota a 5-3 loss.

Prior to his arrival at Boston College, Schneider enjoyed a stellar career at Phillips-Andover Academy where he captained his team, posting a 17-5-2 record that included four shutouts. His outstanding performance during the 2003-04 campaign earned him USA Hockey’s Dave Peterson Award (Goaltender of the Year) as well as the John Carlton Trophy, which is given out by the Boston Bruins annually to the top Massachusetts high school student athlete.

While Schneider may be a newcomer to this tournament, he brings both international experience and success to Team USA. Earlier this year, he led USA’s U-18 team to a silver medal at the 2004 IIHF World U-18 Championship in Belarus. In 2003, he backstopped Team USA’s U-18 Select Team to their first ever Championship at the U-18 Junior World Cup in Slovakia.

Defensemen

CASEY BORER

Sophomore – St. Cloud State University
Birthdate: 1985-7-28
Hometown: Brooklyn Park, MN
NHL Draft: Selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2004 (69th overall, third round)

The SCSU sophomore defenseman is one of 11 newcomers to this year’s U-20 squad. He is one of only seven players on the Huskies roster to have played in 18 games thus far this season. Borer has become one of SCSU’s most reliable defensemen. He has posted three points (all assists) and is still looking to notch his first career goal. Borer had his best game of the season back on October 30th in SCSU’s 10-0 drubbing of non-conference opponent Yale, where he posted two assists.

During the 2002-03 season, Borer played for the National Team Development Program (NTDP), notching seven points (three goals, four assists) in 56 games played. Prior to playing with the NTDP, he played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, MN from 2000-02. Borer was also a member of Team Minnesota at the Select 16 and Select 15 Festivals.

ALEX GOLIGOSKI
Freshman – University of Minnesota
Birthdate: 1985-7-30
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MN
NHL Draft: Selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2004 (61st overall, second round)

The University of Minnesota freshman defenseman is one of two Gophers defensemen making their first U-20 appearance this year. Goligoski is off to an outstanding start to his collegiate career. He has played in all 17 games thus far season and currently leads all Minnesota defensemen in scoring with 11 points (two goals, nine assists). He currently ranks second on the team in penalty minutes with 30. Goligoski scored his first collegiate goal back on October 16th versus conference rival, Alaska-Anchorage. The offensive-minded defenseman had his best outing to date back on November 27th versus Michigan State in the College Hockey Showcase where he notched a goal and an assist. His performance also earned him WCHA Rookie of the Week honors.

Prior to his arrival at the University of Minnesota, Goligoski played briefly with the Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL). He notched two assists in ten games played. Before he joined the Stampede he enjoyed a stellar career at Grand Rapids High School. During the 2003-04 season, he amassed 56 points (25 goals, 31 assists) and was among the state of Minnesota’s top high school defensemen. He was named a finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award, which given annually to the top Minnesota high school player. He was also named the Duluth News-Tribune Player of the Year. In addition he was named to both the AP and St. Paul Pioneer Press All-State teams.

This year’s IIHF WJC U-20 tournament will mark Goligoski’s debut representing the United States in international competition.

NATE HAGEMO
Freshman – University of Minnesota
Birthdate: 1986-10-8
Hometown: Edina, MN
NHL Draft: 2005 eligible

Hagemo joins teammate and fellow freshman blueliner Alex Goligoski as one of the 11 newcomers to the U-20 squad. The Edina, Minnesota native is fast becoming a fan favorite at the University of Minnesota, having played in 14 games thus far this season. He has notched three points (one goal, two assists). His +9 is tied for third on the team in the plus/minus category. Hagemo scored his first and only goal of the season to date back on October 23rd versus archrival North Dakota.

Prior to his arrival at Minnesota, Hagemo played for the National Team Development Program from 2002 to 2004. He posted 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in 51 games played during the 2003-04 season.

Hagemo, who is eligible for the 2005 NHL Draft, is ranked 10th among all current NCAA skaters appearing on the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s preliminary rankings.

In international play, Hagemo was a member of the silver medal winning United States team at the 2004 IIHF World U-18 Championship in Belarus. In 2002, Hagemo helped lead the National Team Development Program’s U-17 team to a gold medal at the Four Nations Cup in Ann Arbor, MI.

MATT HUNWICK
Sophomore – University of Michigan
Birthdate: 1985-5-21
Hometown: Roseville, MI
NHL Draft: Selected by the Boston Bruins in 2004 (224th overall, seventh round)

The University of Michigan sophomore is one of five returning players from last year’s gold medal squad. Last season, Hunwick played in 41 games for Michigan, leading the team with a +14 rating. He amassed 15 points (one goal, 14 assists) and was selected to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. This season the Roseville, Michigan native is off to an excellent start, playing in all 18 games for the Wolverines thus far. Hunwick currently ranks second on the team among defensemen in scoring with 11 points (four goals, seven assists). He enjoyed his best outing to date back on December 10th when he notched his first career hat-trick versus Bowling Green. Hunwick notched five points (three goals, two assists) in helping Michigan to the weekend sweep over the Falcons. His performance earned him CCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors.

In addition to representing the United States at the 2003-04 IIHF World U-20 Championship in Finland, Hunwick was also a member of Team USA’s gold medal squad at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2002.

JEFF LIKENS
Sophomore – University of Wisconsin
Birthdate: 1985-8-28
Hometown: Barrington, IL
NHL Draft: 2005 eligible

The University of Wisconsin sophomore is one of two current NCAA defensemen making a returning appearance with Team USA. During the 2003-04 season, Likens played in 39 games for Wisconsin, amassing 17 points (four goals, 13 assists). Three of his four goals came on the power play. His three power play goals ranked him tied for third on the team in that category. This year, Likens is enjoying very good season thus far with Wisconsin as part of the Badgers’ outstanding sophomore class. He has appeared in all 18 games, posting 11 points (two goals, nine assists). His 11 points currently rank him second on the team among defensemen. He had his best outing of the season back on November 20th versus conference rival Alaska-Anchorage where he notched a goal and an assist.

In addition to playing for Team USA’s gold medal winning squad at last year’s IIHF World U-20 Championship in Finland, Likens was also a member of Team USA’s 2002 IIHF U-18 squad in Russia that finished fourth. In addition, Likens was a member of the U.S. U-17 team that won the gold medal at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2002.

Forwards

CHRIS BOURQUE
Freshman – Boston University
Birthdate: 1986-1-29
Hometown: Topsfield, MA
NHL Draft: Selected by the Washington Capitals in 2004 (33rd overall, second round)

The Boston University freshman will be making his U-20 debut this year. Bourque is enjoying an excellent rookie season at BU having played in all 16 games, with 13 points (four goals, nine assists), which currently ranks him fourth on the team. His nine assists currently tie him for first on the team in that category. Bourque also currently ranks 14th in the nation in points per game among rookies with 0.81. He scored his first collegiate goal back on November 5th versus New Hampshire. Bourque had his best outing to date back on November 19th, where he notched three points (two goals, one assist) helping to lead the Terriers to a 7-2 victory over conference rival UMass-Lowell.

Prior to his arrival at Boston University, Bourque played at Cushing Academy. In the 2003-04 season, he served as team captain. That same year, he had 90 points (37 goals, 53 assists) in 31 games played. He was named to the All New England First Team as well as selected to the NEPSIHA East All-Star First Team for the second consecutive year.

In 2002, Bourque was a member of Team USA’s U-17 Select Team that participated in the U-17 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic.

MIKE BROWN
Sophomore – University of Michigan
Birthdate: 1985-6-24
Hometown: Northbrook, IL
NHL Draft: Selected by the Vancouver Canucks in 2004 (159th overall, fifth round)

The University of Michigan sophomore will be making his first appearance at the IIHF U-20 World Junior Championship this year. Brown played in 42 games for Michigan last season, notching 13 points (eight goals, five assists). His eight goals ranked him second on the team among rookies in that category. This season, Brown has played in 17 of Michigan’s 18 games thus far, amassing four points (two goals, two assists). One of his two goals on the season was a shorthanded goal, which he scored back on October 29th versus conference rival Ferris State. The versatile and gritty winger currently ranks second on the team in penalty minutes with 38.

Prior to his arrival at Michigan, Brown played two years with the National Team Development Program from 2001 to 2003. In his two years with the NTDP, he had 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) to go along with 145 penalty minutes in 113 games played total.

In international play, Brown skated with Team USA at the IIHF U-18 World Junior Championship in Russia in 2003. He was also a member of the gold medal winning USA squad at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2002.

JAKE DOWELL
Sophomore – University of Wisconsin
Birthdate: 1985-3-4
Hometown: Eau Claire, WI
NHL Draft: Selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004 (140th overall, fifth round)

The University of Wisconsin center is one of two current Badgers sophomores making a return appearance for Team USA this year. Dowell enjoyed an outstanding 2003-04 campaign playing in 37 games. He notched 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) and was twice named WCHA Rookie of the Week. This season, Dowell has played in 18 games thus far for the Badgers, putting up 15 points (nine goals, six assists). His five power play goals lead Wisconsin in that category. Dowell has also racked up 34 penalty minutes, which tie him for first on the team. He had his best outing of the season back on October 16th where he notched three points (two goals, one assist) in helping to lead the Badgers to an 8-0 blanking of non-conference opponent Mercyhurst.

In addition to representing the United States at the 2003-04 IIHF World U-20 Championship in Finland, Dowell served as an assistant captain for the fourth place finishing USA squad at the IIHF U-18 World Junior Championship in Russia in 2003. He was also a member of Team USA at the 2002 U-17 World Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg, Manitoba that won the gold medal.

T. J. HENSICK
Sophomore – University of Michigan
Birthdate: 1985-12-10
Hometown: Howell, MI
NHL Draft: Undrafted, 2005 eligible (did not opt into the 2004 draft)

The University of Michigan sophomore is another one of the 11 newcomers to the WJC squad. Hensick enjoyed an outstanding season in 2003-04 that culminated with the CCHA Rookie of the Year honor. Last season, he led Michigan with 46 points (12 goals, 34 assists) playing in all 43 games. His 46 points tied also him with North Dakota’s Brady Murray for most points by a rookie nationally. In addition to earning CCHA Rookie of the Year honors, Hensick also earned a spot on the CCHA All-Rookie Team and was one of only two freshmen to be named to the All-CCHA First Team. This season, Hensick currently leads Michigan in scoring with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists). He has already earned two CCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors for the weeks ending November 22nd and December 13th. Hensick had his best outing of the season in the December 10th weekend series versus Bowling Green. He notched five points (three goals, two assists) in helping to lead the Wolverines to a sweep of the Falcons.

Hensick, who did not opt into the 2004 NHL draft, will be eligible for the 2005 draft. He ranks second among all current NCAA draft eligible skaters appearing on the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s preliminary ranking.

In international play, Hensick participated in the 2003 IIHF U-18 World Junior Championship in Russia, where he led Team USA in scoring with 10 points (six goals, four assists). He also won a gold medal with Team USA at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2002.

KEVIN PORTER
Freshman – University of Michigan
Birthdate: 1986-3-12
Hometown: Detroit, MI
NHL Draft: Selected by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2004 (119th overall, fourth round)

The University of Michigan freshman will be making his first appearance for Team USA in this year’s World Junior Championship. The Detroit, Michigan native is no stranger to the USA Hockey program or international play. Porter is having a superb freshman campaign in Ann Arbor while skating on the top line with T.J. Hensick and Mike Brown. Currently, he has 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in 16 games played. In early December, he earned the CCHA’s Rookie of Week honor while helping the Maize and Blue get past Notre Dame with a five-point effort (2 goals, 3 assists) in the weekend series.

Before Michigan, he played for the National Team Development Program from 2002-04. During the 2002-03 season, Porter played with the U-17 team, where he ranked second in scoring (29 goals, 22 assists) behind Chad Kolarik, who is also his teammate at Michigan this year. Last season, Porter finished up the year fifth in scoring (8 goals, 30 assists) in 56 games as the team’s assistant captain.

Porter has also seen competition in the international forum, starting with the 2003 Compuware Four Nations Tournament in Ann Arbor. Team USA rode the coattails of Porter while he led all players in scoring with 11 points (two goals, nine assists) as well as helped his squad capture the gold medal. He played again with Team USA at the 2004 IIHF U-18 World Championship in Belarus. He was second on the team in scoring with eight points (2 goals, 6 assists).

DREW STAFFORD
Sophomore – University of North Dakota
Birthdate: 1985-10-30
Hometown: Faribault, MN
NHL Draft: Selected by the Buffalo Sabres in 2004 (13th overall, first round)

The University of North Dakota sophomore will be making a return appearance for Team USA this year and he’ll be doing it on his college team’s home ice. Last season, Stafford enjoyed an outstanding rookie campaign with the Fighting Sioux, amassing 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in 36 games played. His 11 goals ranked second on the team among rookies in that category. He finished eighth in the nation among rookies in points per game (0.89). This season, the Faribault, Minnesota native is being heavily relied upon for scoring. Stafford has played in 19 games for UND this season, amassing 18 points (six goals, 12 assists). His 18 points is second on the team. Four of his six goals are game-winning goals. His four game-winning goals rank him tied for first in the nation in that category. In addition to total points, Stafford also currently ranks second on the team in assists (12) and plus/minus (+7). He had his best series of the season thus far back on October 8th and 9th versus Hockey East powerhouse Maine, where he notched the game-winner in both contests. His performance also earned him the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honor.

In addition to being a member of the gold medal winning USA squad at the 2003-04 IIHF U-20 World Junior Championship in Finland, Stafford was a member of the fourth place finishing USA team at the 2003 IIHF U-18 World Championship in Russia. In 2003 he skated with Team USA at the U-18 Five Nations Tournament.

Stafford is the son of former Milwaukee Admirals center Gord Stafford and the nephew of Edmonton Oilers equipment manager, Barrie Stafford.

SHAWN WELLER
Freshman – Clarkson University
Birthdate: 1986-7-8
Hometown: Glens Falls, NY
NHL Draft: Selected by the Ottawa Senators in 2004 (77th overall, third round)

The Clarkson University freshman will be making his Team USA U-20 debut this year and is the lone ECACHL player on the squad. After an NCAA eligibility snafu that kept him out of the Golden Knights lineup for much of the month of October, Weller finally made his collegiate debut on October 29th versus non-conference rival Niagara. The game was also his best outing on the season thus far. He had his first two career goals (both on the power play) in that contest. Weller has played in 13 games thus far this season, notching eight points (two goals, six assists). He currently leads the team in penalty minutes with 30.

Prior to his arrival at Clarkson, Weller played for the Capital District Selects (EJHL). He led the EJHL in scoring with 84 points (37 goals, 58 assists) in 65 games played. His outstanding performance earned him the league’s Most Valuable Player honor. In 2003, Weller participated in the USA Select-17 Festival.

Jeff Dahlia contributed to this article. Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.