The United States Hockey League announced that it has accepted an invitation to compete in the 2012 Junior Club World Cup tournament. The Waterloo Black Hawks will represent the USHL in the event, sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation, which this year features teams from ten countries and will take place from August 18-26 in Omsk, Russia.
It is the second year of the tournament, which featured teams from eight countries in 2011, and the first time a USHL Member Club will participate in the event. The tournament is designed to match top teams from the best junior hockey leagues from around the world.
“We are very happy that United States junior hockey will be represented this year at the JCWC by the United States’ only Tier 1 junior hockey league – the USHL. It definitely takes the status of the tournament and the competition quality to the higher level,” said tournament organizer Dmitri Efimov, Commissioner of the Russian Junior Hockey League. “We will be delighted to host the Waterloo Black Hawks in Russia, and with Russian Junior League champion Omsk Hawks in the tournament, no doubt that fans will love to see Russian and American ‘hawks’ face each other on ice this August.”
The Waterloo Black Hawks will compete in Group A along with teams from Belarus, Czech Republic, Norway, and the host Russia. Group B will consist of teams from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, and Sweden. Teams are scheduled to play each team within their respective group. The two clubs finishing with the best record in each group following round robin play will advance to the semifinal round.
"We have worked with Dmitri Efimov and the JCWC Organizing Committee for over a year, and been impressed by the professionalism of the Committee and the potential of this new international event," said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince. "We are privileged to attend, and particularly excited that the League will be represented by the 2011-12 Clark Cup Finalist Waterloo Black Hawks, one of our most storied Member Clubs. This promises to be a great hockey tournament, and just as importantly, an extraordinary travel and educational experience for the players. We're thrilled."
The 2012 Junior Club World Cup tournament rules allow for teams to have players born in 1991 or later, but the Waterloo Black Hawks will follow USHL roster regulations and have no more than four 1992 birth year players on the team for the event.
The Waterloo Black Hawks finished the 2011-12 USHL regular season with a 35-19-6 record (76 points) and a third-place finish in the Western Conference before advancing all the way to the Clark Cup Final series, in which they took the top-seeded Green Bay Gamblers to decisive Game Five.
Returning Black Hawks players from this past season scheduled to compete in the 2012 Junior Club World Cup include forward Taylor Cammarata, the 2011-12 USHL Rookie of the Year, and defenseman Ian McCoshen, both of whom are top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft. Veteran forward Vince Hinostroza and incoming forwards Zach Stepan and Kevin Duane, all top prospects for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft, will also be part of the team.
The Black Hawks are led by Head Coach and General Manager P.K. O’Handley, recently named the 2011-12 USHL GM of the Year. O’Handley is fifth all-time among USHL coaches with 464 regular season victories.
“This is an opportunity to give our players a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said P.K. O’Handley. “I look forward to using these games and this trip to not only make a better hockey team for the 2012-13 season, but to also help advance the development of our players as young men.”
Prior to the beginning of the 2012 Junior Club World Cup, teams will gather in Moscow, Russia for practices and the opportunity to tour the capital city of Russia. Teams are also scheduled to visit a local children’s hospital during the tournament as part of the charitable efforts for the event.
“JCWC 2011 was a great success and we are determined to make JCWC 2012 even better,” said Dmitri Efimov. “We want it to be not only a great hockey for the Waterloo Black Hawks and the USHL, but also fun and unforgettable cultural experience.”
Games during the tournament will be broadcast by Russian television network Russia-Sport. Distribution plans in the United States are still pending.
Participating teams from each country include:
Belarus – Dynamo Shinnik
Canada – Sudbury Wolves (Ontario Hockey League)
Czech Republic – HC Energie
Denmark – Junior National Team
Finland – HIFK **
Latvia – HC Riga
Norway – Junior National Team
Russia – Omsk Hawks **
Sweden – Linkoping HC **
United States – Waterloo Black Hawks
** League champion in 2011-12
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)