In a shock to absolutely no one Rangers 2009 1st and 3rd round picks Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque were named to the 2011 USA U-20 World Junior Championship preliminary roster. Expect both to make the team and for Bourque to wear a letter for the tournament, possibly the Captain’s ‘C’ as he has for other tournaments for Team USA. Kreider and Bourque will be returning to the team hoping to repeat last year’s thrilling performance all the way to the Gold medal which including fellow Ranger Derek Stepan. The task of the repeat will not be easy as once again Team Canada is loaded with talent and looking to avenge last year’s disappointment, but team Russia is also one of the favorites as they showed in the Canadian Subway Super Series against the different Canadian junior leagues.
It was at this tournament last Chris Kreider turned around what was a disappointing early Freshman season at Boston College going from 5 points in 15 games to 6 goals in this tournament and 18 points in his last 23 games for the Eagles. So far this season Kreider has 5 goals and 6 assists in 16 games. Kreider is no stranger to being on a winner as he won gold in this tournament and the NCAA title last season. When announcing Chris Kreider the general manger of Team USA, Jim Johannson, said he has “unparalleled speed” and is “one of the best skaters in the game.” Those attributes were certainly on display when Kreider scored this goal last Saturday against BU while shorthanded.
As for Bourque he will be asked to be more of an offensive threat this year than the checking line player he was last season. The great thing about Ryan Bourque is that he can do both as he is a tremendously talented two-way player. Bourque is have a superb season in the QMJHL for the Quebec Ramparts putting up 16 goals 19 assists in just 24 games played. Look for this tournament to be a breakout for Bourque on the national stage in much the same way it was for Kreider, Stepan and others on the USA team a season ago.
The final roster will be announced Dec 23 with the tournament happening Dec 26-Jan 5 in Buffalo.