Last week, the Michigan hockey team learned that junior Mike Cammalleri was invited to try out for a chance to play on Team Canada at the World Junior Championships this December.
Yesterday, the Wolverines learned that they would be losing two more players during the World Junior Championship tournament, this time to the U.S. Team.
Michigan defenseman Mike Komisarek and forward Dwight Helminen confirmed yesterday that they have been named to the U.S. Team for the 2002 World Junior Championship, to be held in Prague. The two said they hadn”t heard from the U.S. coaches, but that Michigan coach Red Berenson informed them during practice.
“I think (the U.S. coaches) will call each player individually,” Komisarek said. “But coach (Berenson) just told me today out on the ice.”
The official announcement will not be made until tomorrow when the full roster is released.
Komisarek, a sophomore, will be playing on the U.S. Team for the second consecutive year.
“I think anytime you have a chance to represent your country it”s a great opportunity,” Komisarek said. “Last year was a great experience playing against the top players in the world it doesn”t get any better than that.”
Komisarek has taken on a bigger offensive role for the Wolverines this season. Currently ranked third on the team with 14 points (six goals and eight assists), Komisarek has already scored two more goals than he did all of last year and is two points away from tying his total from the 2000-01 season.
Helminen, a freshman, played with the U.S. Under-18 National team last year and currently leads all Michigan freshmen with six goals this season. The center has come on strong of late after a slow start.
“I”m looking forward to this opportunity,” Helminen said. “There are a lot of guys who work really hard to earn a spot on this team, and it”s an honor.”
Said Berenson of Helminen: “Dwight has quietly been a very consistent freshman from day one. He”s earned our trust as a penalty killer, is a good two-way player, and puts the puck in the net when he gets the chance.”
Tryouts for the team were held this past summer in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Team Finland was brought in to compete against the U.S. players for one week.
“We had a week of tryouts and then a week of scrimmages against Finland,” Komisarek said. “They made some cuts there, and from that point on they just said they would follow each player”s progress with their teams.”
Training camp, which will be held at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, will get underway on Dec. 16 and last for three days. At that point, the team will leave for the tournament, which begins on Dec. 25.
The two will miss the Great Lakes Invitational held at the end of December at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, and could possibly be out for Michigan”s two-game series against Notre Dame on Jan. 4 and 5.
Although its difficult for Michigan to cope without some of its best players, Berenson feels that playing in this tournament is a positive experience for his players.
“It makes you feel like you are playing in the Stanley Cup Finals, only with kids your own age, and for your country,” Berenson said.