HELSINKI, Finland - Miami University freshman forwards Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly will trade in their red and white RedHawk sweaters for red, white and blue jerseys as both players were named to the U.S. National Junior Team that will compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship, USA Hockey announced Sunday. Team USA's roster was trimmed from 26 players to 24 after a five-day training camp in Helsinki with one defenseman still to be cut, pending a medical evaluation, before the roster is down to its final 23 players.
Barber and Kuraly travel with Team USA to Ufa, Russia today, where the IIHF World Junior Championship is being held from Dec. 26, 2012 to Jan. 5, 2013. The duo is two of just four CCHA players picked to represent the United States at the tournament along with Notre Dame freshman forward Mario Lucia and Michigan freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba. Miami is the only NCAA team to have multiple players represented on the roster. A total of 14 current NCAA players made the U.S. team, which can be seen here.
Team USA played two exhibition games while in Helsinki, topping Sweden, 3-2, in overtime Dec. 20, before falling to Finland, 5-1, on Dec. 22. Kuraly assisted on the game-winning goal against Sweden, winning a faceoff clean back to the blue line in the extra session to set up the game-winner. Barber and Kuraly played in both exhibition games.
Barber and Kuraly become the sixth and seventh RedHawks to represent the U.S. at the World Junior Championship with current sophomore forward Austin Czarnik suiting up for the Stars and Stripes at last year's tournament in Alberta. Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff competed in the 2007 World Junior Championship while Nathan Davis played for the U.S. at the 2006 tournament. Former Miami players Kevyn Adams (1994) and Greg Dornbach (1985-86) also played at the World Junior Championship for the U.S.
Barber previously represented Team USA at the 2012 U-18 World Championship, helping the Stars and Stripes capture the gold medal. Kuraly has formerly donned the Team USA jersey at the 2011 World Junior A Challenge and the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, as well.
Barber (Livonia, Mich.) had a superb first half of the season for Miami as he leads the entire CCHA with 22 points and is tied for the league lead with 14 assists with Czarnik, while also adding a team-high eight goals. The 18-year-old's 22 points and 1.22 points per game are also first among all NCAA rookies and 19th nationally overall. A 2012 sixth-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals, Barber was twice named CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Month for both October and November while earning Hockey Commissioners' Association National Rookie of the Month for October. The 5-foot-11 right winger has also earned CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Week three times so far this season and has a point in 14 of 18 games this year. Barber's +12 rating is second on the team while he has six multi-point contests.
Kuraly (Dublin, Ohio), one of four players on Team USA from Ohio, has played in all 18 games for Miami, as has Barber, while notching four points on three goals and an assist. Two of his goals came on the power play, Nov. 3 at Ferris State and Nov. 10 vs. Northern Michigan, with his assist also coming on the man advantage at Alaska Nov. 30. The fifth-round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2011 scored his first even-strength goal Dec. 7 vs. Lake Superior State. Kuraly, a 6-foot-2 center, has five penalties for 10 minutes this season. The 19-year-old shined at the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp back in August, leading Team USA with nine points on six goals and three assists.
In addition to Barber and Kuraly, former RedHawk forward Tyler Biggs, who played at Miami last year as a freshman, also made the U.S. National Junior Team. He now plays for the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League.
The U.S. National Junior Team consists of the best American players under the age of 20 and is coached by Phil Housley, head ice hockey coach at Stillwater (Minn.) High School. The U.S. plays four games in pool play (Group B) against Russia, Canada, Slovakia and Germany to begin the World Junior Championship before advancing to the tournament knockout stage. The top three teams in each of the two pools advances to the quarterfinals Jan. 2 while the winner of each group gets a bye to the semifinals (Jan. 3). The U.S. begins pool play Thursday, Dec. 27 against Germany at 8 p.m. local/9 a.m. ET. All of Team USA's pool play games will be televised on the NHL Network and streamed live on NHL.com as will the entire knockout phase of the tournament. Team USA's schedule can be seen here.
The U.S. will be looking to earn its third medal in four years at the tournament after taking gold at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Saskatoon, Sask. and bronze at the 2011 tournament in Buffalo, N.Y. Barber and Kuraly will miss Miami's games in the Three Rivers Classic Dec. 28-29 to represent Team USA.