EDITORIAL NOTE: The official roster on the USA Hockey website incorrectly listed goaltender Tyler Parsons as from Chesterfield, MO. He is in actuality from Chesterfield, MI. This article, originally written based off the error, has been edited accordingly.
Local fans of international hockey may have gotten some disappointing news late last week (for real though, Buffalo? Again?), but some more exciting news came down the pipe earlier today that concerns the immediate future.
USA Hockey released their preliminary roster choices for the 2016 U-20 World Championships, aka the World Juniors, and included in the 29 teenagers chosen are FOUR (4) players from the St. Louis area. Among them are forwards Clayton Keller (Swansea, IL/US U-18/2016 draft), Ryan MacInnis (St. Louis, MO/Kitchener Rangers-OHL/Arizona Coyotes), and Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, MO/London Knights-OHL/2016 draft), as well as goaltenders Luke Opilka (St. Louis, MO/Kitchener Rangers-OHL/St. Louis Blues)
and Tyler Parsons (Chesterfield, MO/London Knights-OHL/2016 draft). Those five kids equal the total the entire "State of Hockey" Minnesota contributes, so may I humbly tell our friends at Hockey Wilderness "naa-naa-naa-naa-boo-boo!" Never mind, we're still one short of Minnesota's contribution of players. Please accept our dearest apologies oh benevolent overlords of Northern Midwestern hockey.
After failing to land the hosting rights to the 2018 tournament, this is thus far one of the highest points in St. Louis' emergence as a youth hockey region. It's unclear how many will make the final cut -
Parsons' inclusion in particular was a bit of a surprise and it wouldn't be hard to see him as the the odd man out among 4 goalies - but the message from World Juniors coach Ron Wilson and the rest of USA Hockey is clear: St. Louis has fully arrived as a reliable hockey region. (If only Canadian fans would be willing to drive further south than Buffalo.)
The camp will be held in Boston between December 15-18, after which USA hockey will name the final 23 will celebrate by seeing Star Wars together before flying to Helsinki, Finland for this year's tournament. The United States quest for a 3rd gold medal in 7 years will begin on the traditional Boxing Day, December 26th, and will surely start with a bang as they face off against arch rival and defending champion Canada.