The 2017 World Junior Championship is fast approaching, and 5 BC players have a shot of making their country’s team. As training camps begin, here’s a look at the Eagles competing for roster spots.
Colin White is a fairly sure bet to make team USA. He was a member of the 2016 squad that won bronze and was also on the 2015 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship winning team. White, who has played 18 games this season, is third on the Eagles with 17 points so far. He leads the team with 10 goals and has been playing significantly better lately than he was at the beginning of the season. Team USA has a lot of talent on their preliminary roster, but between his skills and his experience White should not have a problem making the team.
Casey Fitzgerald has grown to be a much better player than many seemed to expect. He was picked up by Buffalo in last summer’s NHL draft after going undrafted in his first year of eligibility.Fitzgerald is tied for the lead among Hockey East defenders with 5 goals. Like White, Fitzgerald was a member of the 2015 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship gold medal team. With only 8 defenders invited to camp, Fitzgerald has good odds of making the team. He is competing against some highly skilled players, but his ability to stay strong on defense while also contributing on offense makes him a good contender for a spot, but he is definitely the most likely to return to BC in time for the Three Rivers Classic.
Joe Woll was a member of the 2016 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship bronze medal winning team, where he split playing time with Jake Oettinger (who is likely to be this team’s starting goalie). Woll played extremely well at the U-18 World Championship, registering a 1.34 GAA and .947 save percentage. His prior experience in international play along with some impressive goaltending at BC make a strong case for him to earn the backup spot, but he will need to have a strong camp to overtake Tyler Parsons for the spot.
Team USA begins practice tomorrow and should have a finalized roster by December 24.
Julius Mattila has played for Finland internationally starting with the U-16 team in 2012-13. Mattila has 7 points in 12 games this season. With only 2 forwards returning from last year’s team, how Mattila performs at camp could make or break his chances of making the final squad. He has struggled offensively in international play over the past couple years, but his experience playing for various Finnish national teams along with his familiarity with many Team USA players could work in his favor. He’s looked like he’s finally really settling in to NCAA play in recent games, which bodes well for him.
Jesper Mattila has been an important freshman defender for BC this season, playing hard on defense while also managing to score 2 goals and record 6 assists. Finland has 2 returning defenders who will almost certainly make the team, so Mattila will be competing with the 7 other newcomers for a spot. Like his brother, Mattila has been playing internationally for Finland since 2012-13. He was an alternate captain on his U-16 and U-17 teams. I would guess that he has a slightly better chance of making the team than his brother does, but I’m not an expert on Finnish hockey prospects so who knows.
Also of note - BC commit Eeli Tolvanen is trying out for Team Finland. He’s a highly touted recruit and it would be a surprise if he does not make this team.