EAST LANSING, MICH. -- Michigan State sophomore defenseman Michael Ratchuk (Buffalo, NY) is among the 45 players currently participating in the 2007 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. Participating players are candidates for the 2008 U.S. National Junior Team that will compete in the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2007-Jan. 5, 2008, in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic.
The camp, which began on Friday, Aug. 3, features practices and eight international scrimmages, with a split squad of the best American players under the age of 20 facing off against Sweden and Finland. The evaluation camp runs through Saturday, Aug. 11. All practice sessions are open to the public and tickets to the international games are available through the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid.
Ratchuk, a product of the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP) in Ann Arbor, is participating at the camp for the second consecutive summer. The mobile, puck-moving defenseman recently completed his freshman campaign with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) and served 28 PIM. He helped the Spartans to the National Championship in April.
Twenty-one Spartan players have participated in the IIHF World Junior tournament, most recently junior Justin Abdelkader, who helped the US to the bronze medal last winter in Sweden. Other noteworthy former Spartans to participate are Kelly Miller and Mike York, who each made three World Junior teams, and current NHL'ers Rod Brind'Amour, Bryan Smolinski, Adam Hall, John-Michael Liles, Jim Slater, and David Booth.
John Hynes, Ratchuk's coach while at the USNTDP, will serve as head coach of the 2008 U.S. National Junior Team. Hynes will be assisted by Yale coach Keith Allain, who was an assistant coach of both the 2006 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team and the 2006 U.S. Men's National Team. Joining the coaching staff for the Evaluation Camp are former Yale head coach Tim Taylor, Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson, and Saint John's University (Minn.) head coach John Harrington.
The 2007 US National Junior team will be announced in early December, with the players reporting for camp late in the month.