These notes originally ran in USA Hockey's December 24 World Junior Championship notebook, found here.
A record 22 players named to this year's U.S. National Junior Team roster have spent time in the United States Hockey League, the only Tier I junior hockey league in the United States. In addition to the 17 players who spent time in USA Hockey's National Team Development Program that plays in the league, this year's roster includes several other notable ties to the USHL:
Last season forward Tanner Laczynski (Shorewood, Ill./Ohio State University) was named to the All-USHL Second Team while Jack Ahcan (Savage, Minn./St. Cloud State University) was tabbed USHL Defenseman of the Year and a All-USHL First Team selection after helping the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders claim the Anderson Cup regular-season championship. Two seasons ago, Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn./Boston University) helped the Sioux Falls Stampede claim the 2015 Clark Cup while being named 2015 USHL Rookie of the Year and a All-USHL First Rookie Team and All-USHL Third Team selection.
USHL ties are also shared by this year's staff, as general manager Jim Johannson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) spent five years as the general manager of the Twin Cities Vulcans where he led the Vulcans to the 2000 USA Hockey Junior A National Championship in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Head coach Bob Motzko (St. Cloud, Minn./St. Cloud State University), played in the USHL for Dubuque Fighting Saints (1980-81) and Waterloo Black Hawks (1979-80) before coaching the North Iowa Huskies (1986-91) and Sioux Falls Stampede (1999-01). Twice named USHL General Manager of the Year, his all-time USHL coaching record stands at 165-143-14 (W-L-T). In addition, two assistant coaches skated in the USHL as Kris Mayotte played for the Sioux City Musketeers (2001-02) and Grant Potulny (Grand Forks, N.D./University of Minnesota) played for the Lincoln Stars (1998-00) where he helped the squad claim the Anderson Cup as the team’s MVP in 1999-2000.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.