Shane Pinto makes U.S. World Junior final roster and signs point toward a big role
One thing is for certain: Shane Pinto will play for the U.S. World Junior Championship team.
That became official Monday afternoon when the U.S. announced its 23-man roster, revealing that the UND rookie forward had, indeed, made the team.
Signs are pointing toward another, thing, too: Pinto may play a large role for the American squad, which opens the under-20 tournament on Thursday against rival Canada in the Czech Republic.
During USA's final two exhibition games, Pinto centered USA's top line.
During Monday's exhibition game, Pinto centered Nick Robertson and Oliver Wahlstrom, who has played for the New York Islanders this season, on the top unit. On Sunday, Pinto centered Boston University's Trevor Zegras, a top-10 NHL draft pick, and Wahlstrom on USA's top line.
Pinto, of Franklin Square, N.Y., showed during the first half of the college hockey season that he can handle a large role.
The second-round pick of the Ottawa Senators played in UND's top six, scoring a team-leading eight goals and 14 points in 17 games for the No. 1-ranked Fighting Hawks.
Pinto had six goals in his last six games before leaving for USA's camp.
Pinto will be the first to play for the Americans at the World Juniors since Brock Boeser and Nick Schmaltz during the 2015-16 NCAA national championship season.
He won't be the only UND player there, either. Jacob Bernard-Docker is on track to be on Canada's final roster, which is expected to soon be revealed. Bernard-Docker, a sophomore defenseman, is in the Czech Republic with Canada's team. He's the only college player still with Canada.
That means Pinto and Bernard-Docker will miss UND's exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 Team on Saturday in Plymouth, Mich., and a regular-season series against Alabama Huntsville on Jan. 3-4 in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
They are expected to return for a home series against Omaha on Jan. 10-11.