Four members of the Boston College hockey team - Steve Santini, Ian McCoshen, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Thatcher Demko - were named to the 26-man preliminary roster for the United States' team in the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships. The tournament gets underway on December 26 in Malmo, Sweden, and runs through the gold medal game on January 5.
The US will need to make three cuts - likely two forwards and one defenseman - to get down to their final 23-man roster. This makes Demko pretty much a lock to make the team, though he will likely see limited time behind starter Jon Gillies of Providence College and Anthony Stolarz of the OHL's London Knights. McCoshen seems extremely likely to make the team as well. Fitzgerald and Santini both have an excellent chance, but may potentially be bubble players depending on their camp performance.
The good news is that a) this is an incredible honor for the players selected and b) you can't beat the kind of exposure that comes from having your best players representing the national team. Last year, Johnny Gaudreau captivated hockey fans across the nation as one of the top players for the US team that won the gold medal in Russia. Chris Kreider was a member of the 2010 US team that also won gold.
The bad news is that BC will be shorthanded for, at the very least, their holiday tournament in Pittsburgh. BC plays Bowling Green on Friday, December 27, then either Robert Morris or Penn State in the final or consolation game the following day.
The Eagles play Notre Dame in Frozen Fenway Episide 39 on Saturday, January 4 - meaning players on national team duty will likely miss this game as well. The quarterfinals - which the US is a virtual lock to make, with 8 of 10 teams advancing - will be on Thursday, January 2. It would be an awfully quick turnaround to come back from Sweden and play in Boston the ensuing Saturday. If the US advances to the semifinals, those will be held on Jan. 4. The final is on Jan. 5. Notre Dame's Tommy DiPauli has also been named to the preliminary roster, so the Irish may be a man short.
Also representing Hockey East on the preliminary roster is Matt Grzelyck and Danny O'Regan from BU, Brett Pesce from UNH, and the aforementioned Gillies. Boston College assistant coach Greg Brown will be on the US's coaching staff, led by head coach Don Lucia of Minnesota.
Unsurprisingly, Michael Matheson was not selected to Canada's roster, despite being one of the top NHL prospects in his age group. Canada's roster tends to consist of players from the Canadian Hockey League.
The World Junior championship is the world's premier hockey tournament for players under 20 and has become increasingly popular in the last decade as a showcase of elite NHL prospects.