Well, folks, today is the day! Take two of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton, Alberta is about to take center stage. Die-hard hockey fans who cherish the game all year round can officially rejoice. But who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Enter Team USA.
The USA enters the 2022 World Juniors with sky-high hopes of winning a prestigious Gold Medal. They also enter play as defending champions, having previously won in 2021. Although the Americans boast an impressive roster of players, we are going to focus on three main players at the World Juniors slated to be difference-makers this time around. So, without further delay, let us read on and meet the cast.
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Logan Cooley, Center, NHL Rights: Arizona Coyotes
Batting first is Logan Cooley out of the University of Minnesota (NCAA). Talk about an elite, high-caliber talent donning the red, blue, and white at this year’s tournament. After being drafted third overall by the Arizona Coyotes at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Cooley will be looking to put on an absolute show in Alberta. As one of the team’s leaders and best players, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native will undoubtedly have his sights set on tournament MVP, among other accolades. But what exactly is it about this kid that makes him so special?
As a player, Cooley boasts a unique, extensive, and dynamic skill set. From puck-management skills to intelligence to puck distribution, there are not many prospects who can do what Cooley can on the ice. In addition, he is an excellent playmaker who always seems to visualize plays and outcomes before they transpire. This past season with the U.S. National Team Development Program saw Cooley skate in 51 games. During that time span, he tallied 27 goals and 48 assists for 75 points, which is good for a 1.47 point-per-game pace. Talk about a season to remember for one of Team USA’s most coveted youngsters. So keep your eyes glued to this player, hockey fans; he will be sure to dazzle at the World Juniors!
Matthew Coronato, Right-Wing, NHL Rights: Calgary Flames
Next up is one of the most valuable prospects in the Calgary Flames system; his name is Matthew Coronato. Let us start off by saying that the Flames were beyond thrilled to secure his services when he fell into their lap with the 13th overall selection at last year’s Draft. For those who don’t know much about the kid from Huntington, New York, this will come as a welcome treat. In addition, Coronato is also slated to be one of the brightest stars on an uber-talented Team USA.
When people think of Coronato, one thing comes to mind, offense. This is a player who loves carrying the puck and thrives on having the puck on his stick. Coronado can “zip it” around the ice with the best of them and has a lethal shot. He is an excellent stick-handler, dangerous on the rush, and will not hesitate to take pucks to the net. For an American team looking for some added jam and feistiness, Coronato fits the bill and then some. Do not let his 5-foot-10 frame fool you; this kid is going to be a player-and-a-half.
Luke Hughes, Defenseman, NHL Rights: New Jersey Devils
Rounding out our list of studs is 19-year-old blue-liner Luke Hughes. Born out of a hockey family alongside his brothers Jack and Quinn, Hughes enters the World Juniors as one of the single-most most talented players. After being drafted in the first round, fourth overall at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Hughes is looking to make this particular tournament his unofficial welcome party to the hockey world. He will also be able to boast bragging rights with his two brothers if he can bring a Gold Medal home to his hometown of Manchester, New Hampshire.
When you watch Hughes play, there is not much the University of Michigan product cannot do on the ice. He is slick, an effortless skater who loves carrying the puck and is not afraid to jump into the rush. To say Hughes eats, sleeps, and breathes the game certainly does not do this player any justice. Be prepared to see one of the finest defensemen in hockey go toe-to-toe with some of the best forward prospects in Alberta. In addition, it will not be long before you see him under the bright lights of the National Hockey League spotlight. This kid really is the real deal.
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