COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Hockey today named 26 players, including 14 members of the silver-medal winning 2002 U.S. Men's Olympic Ice Hockey Team, and 13 returners from the 1996 squad that raised the World Cup of Hockey trophy, to the United States roster that will compete at the World Cup of Hockey 2004.
The U.S. is the defending champion of the World Cup of Hockey, having defeated Canada, 5-2, in the third game of a best-of-three final series in 1996, which was the last time the event took place. The World Cup of Hockey 2004 will be held August 30-September 14 across North America and Europe.
The announcement was made by 2004 U.S. Men's National Team General Manager Larry Pleau (St. Louis, Mo.); Assistant General Manager Don Waddell (Atlanta, Ga.); Senior Director, International Administration Art Berglund (Colorado Springs, Colo.); Senior Director, Hockey Operations, Jim Johannson (Colorado Springs, Colo.); USA Hockey President Ron DeGregorio (Salem, N.H.); USA Hockey Executive Director Doug Palazzari (Colorado Springs, Colo.); and USA Hockey Vice President & International Council Chairperson Tony Rossi (Chicago, Ill.).
"Our goal was to assemble the ideal team for a seven-game playoff series in which every game is a seventh game," said Pleau. "We examined a number of factors including experience, youth, energy, speed and versatility, while considering an overall team chemistry that allows us to gel as we move through the tournament. We are very pleased with those we have selected to represent the United States, and excited about the challenge of defending the championship in the World Cup of Hockey."
Fifteen forwards were selected to the roster, nine of whom competed in the World Cup of Hockey 1996: Tony Amonte (Hingham, Mass./Philadelphia Flyers), Bill Guerin (Wilbraham, Mass./Dallas Stars), Brett Hull (Belleville, Ont./Detroit Red Wings), Steve Konowalchuk (Salt Lake City, Utah/Colorado Avalanche), Mike Modano (Livonia, Mich./Dallas Stars), Brian Rolston (Flint, Mich./Boston Bruins), Bryan Smolinski (Toledo, Ohio/Ottawa Senators), Keith Tkachuk (Melrose, Mass./St. Louis Blues), and Doug Weight (Warren, Mich./St. Louis Blues). The remaining six forwards named are: Jason Blake (Moorhead, Minn./New York Islanders), Craig Conroy (Potsdam, N.Y./Calgary Flames), Chris Drury (Trumbull, Conn./Buffalo Sabres), Jeff Halpern (Potomac, Md./Washington Capitals), Jamie Langenbrunner (Cloquet, Minn./New Jersey Devils), and Jeremy Roenick (Boston, Mass./Philadelphia Flyers).
Eight defensemen were also selected to the roster, four of whom were members of Team USA in 1996 at the last World Cup of Hockey: Chris Chelios (Chicago, Ill./Detroit Red Wings), Derian Hatcher (Sterling Heights, Mich./Detroit Red Wings), Brian Leetch (Corpus Christi, Texas/Toronto Maple Leafs), and Matthieu Schneider (New York, N.Y./Detroit Red Wings). The other four defensemen named are: Ken Klee (Kansas City, Mo./Toronto Maple Leafs), Jordan Leopold (Golden Valley, Minn./Calgary Flames), Aaron Miller (Buffalo, N.Y./Los Angeles Kings), and Brian Rafalski (Dearborn, Mich./New Jersey Devils).
The three goaltenders named to the roster were: Ty Conklin (Anchorage, Alaska/Edmonton Oilers), Robert Esche (Whitesboro, N.Y./Philadelphia Flyers), and Rick DiPietro (Winthrop, Mass./New York Islanders). Conklin recently made his Team USA debut at the 2004 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship, backstopping the U.S. to the bronze medal. DiPietro and Esche split time in net at the 2001 IIHF Men's World Championship, and each competed for two years with the U.S. National Junior Team at the IIHF World Junior Championship; DiPietro in 2000 and 2001, and Esche in 1997 and 1998.
Twenty of the 26 players have represented the United States in prior IIHF Men's World Championship competition, including Conklin, Drury and Halpern, who were members of the 2004 U.S. Men's National Team which earned the bronze medal earlier this month in the Czech Republic. Drury also competed in the 2002
Olympic Winter Games, and made three previous appearances, in 1998, 1997 and 1996, on a U.S. Men's National Team. Halpern also competed at the 2000 and 2001 World Championships, and played alongside Blake in 2000, and Esche and DiPietro in 2001.
Drury has competed in four Men's World Championships (1996, 1997, 1998 and 2004), the most of any player on the U.S. squad. In 1996 Drury competed with Rolston, and in 1998 he played alongside Rafalski and Smolinski, who have each played in one other Men's World Championship (1995 and 1999, respectively). Amonte (1991, 1993), Hatcher (1993, 2002), Klee (1992, 1997), Leopold (2002, 2003) and Modano (1990, 1993), have also competed in two Men's World Championships. Others competing in Men's World Championships are Chelios (1994), Hull (1986), Konowalchuk (2002), Roenick (1991), and Rolston (1996).
Eighteen members of the team have played for the U.S. National Junior Team, including newcomers to the World Cup of Hockey, DiPietro, Drury, Esche, Klee, Langenbrunner, Leopold, Miller, Rafalski and Roenick. Olympians Leetch and Rolston are two of 14 members of the U.S. National Junior Team to play for three consecutive years; Leetch in 1985, 1986 and 1987, and Rolston in 1991, 1992 and 1993. In 1991 Rolston played alongside Miller, Klee and Weight, who set a U.S. single-tournament assist scoring record, with 14 assists in seven games in 1991.
Also a member of the1991 squad was Tkachuk, who also played in 1992 along with Rafalski, who joined Rolston for his final year at the World Junior Championship in 1993. Most recently, DiPietro was a netminder for the 2000 and 2001 teams. Defenseman Leopold helped safeguard DiPietro in 2000. Esche also was a two-year member of the team, in 1997 and 1998. Roenick and Modano played together in the 1988 and 1989 World Junior Championship, and in the latter year were joined by Amonte and Guerin, who both stayed on to play in 1990. Langenbrunner's only Team USA experience came on the U.S. National Junior Teams that competed in 1994 and 1995.
The team will be led by head coach Ron Wilson (San Jose, Calif.), who is currently head coach of the NHL's San Jose Sharks. Wilson joined the Sharks in December 2002, and led the Sharks from a last place finish in the Pacific division in 2002-03 to the Western Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.
Team USA competes in the North American Pool along with Canada, Russia and Slovakia. Preliminary round games for these teams will be held in Toronto and Quebec, Canada and St.Paul, Minn. European Pool teams will consist of the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Sweden. Preliminary round games for these teams will be held in each of the respective countries.
Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio hosts Team USA's training camp in preparation for the World Cup of Hockey 2004 from August 20-30. Tickets for Team USA's pre-tournament games at Nationwide Arena vs. Canada (Monday, August 23) and Russia (Friday, August 27) are on sale now at Ticketmaster ticket centers, by phone at (614) 431-3600 or online at www.BlueJackets.com.