December 27, 2016
by Andrew Podnieks
We can add their names to a pretty small list of NCAA players whom Hockey Canada has named to World Junior rosters over the years.
In fact, since Canada started a true national team in 1982, only 41 players have appeared at the U20 for Canada on loan from American colleges.
But among those 41 are some of the best players ever to play for Canada at the premier junior event.
Surely at the top of the list is Jason Botterill (University of Michigan). He is, quite simply, the most successful junior player of all time, the only one to have won three gold medals at the U20.
Right behind is Jonathan Toews (University of North Dakota). While he wasn’t much of a factor in Canada’s gold medal run in 2006 as a 17-year-old, he was a huge contributor to a second straight gold the next year.
Kent Manderville (Cornell) won back-to-back golds in 1990 and 1991, the former team being special because there were an all-time high of five NCAA players on the roster: Manderville, Jason Herter (North Dakota), Dwayne Norris (Michigan State), Scott Pellerin (Maine), and Dan Ratushny (Cornell).
The first U.S. collegians were Troy Murray (North Dakota) and James Patrick (North Dakota) in 1982, the inaugural year the team went to a national concept—and won gold.
Mike van Ryn and Mike Cammalleri (both Michigan), Paul Kariya (Maine) and Dany Heatley (Wisconsin) are other players who had great U20 careers and also became stars in the NHL.
Recent years have been less kind to NCAAers, though. The last time Canada won gold with a collegian in the lineup was 2009, when Wisconsin’s Cody Goloubef was on the team.
In all, there have been nine years since 1982 when Canada had no NCAA players, and those teams have been remarkably successful as well, winning gold in 2015, 2005, 1997, and 1988 and silver in 2010. There were three 4th-place finishes (2014, 2013, 1984), and the unpleasant disqualification in 1987.
Which universities have been most helpful to Canada over the years? The clear winner is North Dakota.
The Fighting Sioux (now named Fighting Hawks) have given Canada ten players over the years including current coach Brad Berry. The complete list includes Toews, Tyson Jost, Brad Bombardir, Greg Johnson, Jason Herter, Geoff Smith, Gord Sherven, Troy Murray, James Patrick, and Berry.
Cornell, Michigan, and Michigan State have all helped with six players and Wisconsin with five. Other colleges include Boston (3—Fabbro, Brandon Hickey, Daniel Bertram), Maine (2—Paul Kariya, Scott Pellerin), Colorado College (Jaden Schwartz), Denver (Matt Pettinger), and Minnesota-Duluth (Dylan Olsen).
And so we watch Jost and Fabbro this year. Can the NCAAers help Canada win gold as many have done before, or will Goloubef in 2009 remain the last collegian to bring home Canadian gold?