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University of Minnesota hockey players all over for international play

It's a busy time for both the Gopher men's and women's teams having players, commits and alums participate in international play.

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The end of 2014 has been a time for international hockey that continues through the beginning of 2015. Several players throughout the University of Minnesota men's and women's programs, including recruits, have been wearing a USA sweater or representing their country. Here's a quick recap of what they have either done or will do.

World Juniors

Three Gophers - Hudson Fasching (Buffalo Sabres) and Ryan Collins (Columbus Blue Jackets) for the United States and Leon Bristedt for Sweden - are playing in the U-20 World Junior Championship, missing this weekend's Mariucci Classic. Both countries advanced to the medal round of the tournament in Montreal and Toronto, which runs until January 5th.

Sweden and Bristedt went an undefeated 4-0 in Group B. Bristedt is pointless with a penalty playing on the Swedish fourth line. When he's stepped up in his role the freshman has played well such as a final minute shift against Russia keeping the puck pinned in the offensive zone with a one-goal lead.

Fasching, who has a goal and two assists in 4 games, and Collins have been helping the Americans. Although Collins has been Team USA's 7th defenseman out of 7, Fasching has been placed in a key role. His line with Michigan's Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) and either JT Compher (Michigan/Sabres) or Sonny Milano (Plymouth - OHL/Blue Jackets) has been one of Team USA's best, if not the best so far in the WJC.

Larkin, who is leading the tournament with five goals, and Fasching's chemistry could be put to the test against one another after the World Juniors. The next time both likely suit up in college action will be when Minnesota and Michigan meet up January 9-10 in Ann Arbor. Interested in seeing that go down.

Collins has had some opportunities in limited time, such as when the freshman went one on one with presumptive 2015 first overall pick Connor McDavid during the Canada game and stood his ground.

For the Gophers back home preparing for the second half, watching their teammates has been fun. Some players have international experience. Others don't. They all enjoy watching hockey (and talking about what is going on when watching hockey) in addition to playing. Being away and watching did give redshirt sophomore Connor Reilly something to chirp at Fasching when the sophomore comes back from international duty.

"It's kind of weird. I didn't realize he was always sticking his tongue out when he scores a goal," he said Wednesday, prefacing it with the fact watching his teammates on TV is a little awkward.

The United States, second place in Group A, next plays tomorrow (January 2) afternoon in Montreal against Group B third place Russia. Sweden will face Finland in Toronto in a rematch of the 2014 gold medal game. Only the US game will be on NHL Network.

World Junior A Challenge

A trio of players with Minnesota commitments helped Team USA win gold at the World Junior A Challenge on December 20th. Waterloo forwards Tommy Novak (River Falls, WI) and Tyler Sheehy (Burnsville, MN) and Sioux City defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf (Edina, MN) were all members of the all-USHL squad that went up to Kindersley, Saskatchewan and finished the six team (Canada split into East and West teams) tournament undefeated.

Both Novak and Sheehy have signed Letters of Intent with Minnesota and are expected to come in for 2015-16.

The WJAC final, which was against the same Denmark team that made the medal round at the World Juniors, saw Novak score the overtime winner for the Americans 4:56 into the extra session for a 3-2 victory.

Novak finished second in the tournament with 7 points (3G-4A) in 4 games and was named to the All-Tournament team.

Sheehy finished with 3 points (1G-2A). Zuhlsdorf had a pair of assists in a game against Canada East and was named Player of the Game for his efforts.

Watching the Challenge, it was impressive to watch how Sheehy and Novak worked together. The two played on the same power play unit together with Waterloo teammate Brock Boeser (Burnsville, MN/uncommitted) and their chemistry shined through on the international stage.

In addition to the World Junior A Challenge, Novak and Zuhlsdorf, along with fellow Minnesota commit Brent Gates, Jr. (Green Bay Gamblers), will be among the 40 players participating in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Dubuque, IA on January 13th. All 3 players are draft eligible for the first time in 2015. (If you were wondering, Sheehy was passed over in 2014.) Novak was named an "A" player (projected to go in the first round) by NHL Central Scouting.

4 Nations Cup (U17)

Minnesota commit Ryan Lindgren, playing for the US Under-17 team, participated in the 4 Nations Cup last month. The 5'11", 194 lbs defenseman had an assist in the tournament, which saw the US win twice against Switzerland and Slovakia and fall to Russia twice.

USA Hockey Women's Winter Training Camp

Before the season resumes Sunday at Ridder Arena for Minnesota (16-1-2, 11-1-2 WCHA) four current Gopher women's hockey players participated in USA Hockey Women's Winter Training Camp December 27-31in Blaine, MN.

Junior forward Hannah Brandt, sophomore forward Dani Cameranesi, junior defenseman Milica McMillen and redshirt sophomore defenseman Lee Stecklein were among the 40 players named to the camp. The players were split into two teams for a series of practices and three intra-squad scrimmages.

In addition to the current Gophers, Minnesota alums Megan Bozek and Anne Schlepper were there as well. Those two, along with Stecklein, played for Team USA in the 2014 Olympics.

Nations Cup

Two other Gopher alums - Kelly Terry and Sarah Davis - will skate for Team Canada in the 2015 Nations Cup January 3-6 at BLZ Arena in Füssen, Germany. Terry, who, like Davis, finished her 4 year career in 2014, will be Canada's captain.

U-18 Women's World Juniors

Four future Gophers will play in the U-18 Women's World Juniors.The tournament runs from January 5-12 in Buffalo, NY.

Forward Sarah Potomak will return for three-time defending champion Canada while defenseman Patricia Marshall, forward Sophie Skarzynski and forward Alex Wolken are suiting up for Team USA, which is being coached by University of Minnesota associate head coach Joel Johnson. Potomak, who led all players in scoring in 2014, and Skarzynski each played a year ago.

All four played for their respective countries in August when the Canadian U-18 team took 2 of 3 games from the Americans in Calgary. The two teams will meet in the first game January 5th.


Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter --