Come Christmas, most members of the Michigan hockey team will have three letters on their mind – G, L and I.

By then, Michigan will be in full preparation for the annual year-end Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena.

But for a trio of Wolverines, three other letters will be at the forefront – U, S and A.

Sophomore Chris Summers and freshmen Max Pacioretty and Matt Rust were named last night to the United States roster for the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championships, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in the Czech Republic.

Even though their sweaters will be red, white and blue, the Wolverines know they’ll be showcasing two additional colors during the tournament – maize and blue.

“Aside from representing our country, I want to be able to represent Michigan with Chris and Matt,” Pacioretty said.

Michigan coach Red Berenson is used to losing some of his top under-20 talent for the GLI, a tournament Michigan hasn’t won since 1996.

While Berenson never discourages players from playing for their national teams in tournaments as big as the World Juniors, the absences certainly make his job more difficult.

“There was a year that we had a player that didn’t want to go and I convinced him that he should go,” Berenson said “It would be a good experience for him and it was OK for Michigan, and we won the GLI then. That was a long time ago, but since then, we haven’t won it.”

Berenson knows firsthand how valuable experience in the World Juniors and other premier tournaments can be. Berenson took a semester off as a freshman at Michigan to play for the Canadian team at the World Tournament. Even today, Berenson is glad his coach, Al Renfrew, and then-Athletic Director Fritz Crisler encouraged him to participate in the tournament.

Summers and Rust have experience playing internationally from their time as members of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Pacioretty played internationally three summers ago as a member of the Under-18 Select Team, coincidentally in the Czech Republic.

The list of absentees from the GLI isn’t limited to the trio skating for the Stars and Stripes. Freshman Carl Hagelin has a spot on Sweden’s roster.

Even though the United States and Sweden are on different sides of the bracket, the mere possibility of playing his teammate on a world stage brings a smile to Rust’s face.

“Carl’s the type of kid that will start talking to you in the middle of the game,” Rust said. “He’ll just strike up a conversation.”

Notes: After a monster month in November, two members of Michigan’s top-line received conference awards. Senior captain Kevin Porter was named the RBC Financial Group CCHA Player of the Month. The nation’s scoring leader posted 18 points in nine games, a span in which the Wolverines posted an 8-1-0 record.

Porter’s freshman linemate, Max Pacioretty, was named the CCHA Rookie of the Month. The Montreal Canadiens’ first-round pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft posted 10 points in Michigan’s nine November games.

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