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Jackson Blake makes initial U.S. World Junior Championship roster

The Fighting Hawks' freshman is UND's lone candidate to play at the world under-20 event, which will be held in Halifax and Moncton.

UND hockey vs. Manitoba - Oct. 1, 2022
A point-blank shot from UND forward Jackson Blake ricochets off the pads of Manitoba goalie Ross Hawryluk (34) in the third period of an exhibition hockey game at Grand Forks' Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Jackson Blake has had a big start to his college hockey career.

He's averaging more than a point per game through the first semester. He's playing right wing on UND's top line. He's producing on the power play. He's producing at even strength.

USA Hockey has taken notice.

Blake was named to the preliminary U.S. World Junior Championship roster Monday afternoon.

Blake will join the American squad for a camp in Plymouth, Mich., after UND's series this weekend at Western Michigan. That camp will be used to select the final 23-man roster.

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The Americans are bringing 18 forwards to the camp, which will run from Dec. 12-17. They will likely cut five of them and take 13 to the tournament, which is scheduled for Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Halifax, N.S., and Moncton, N.B.

The Americans open Dec. 26 against Latvia.

If Blake makes the final roster, he will miss UND's exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 Team on Dec. 31. His availability would be questionable for the Lindenwood series on Jan. 6-7. If the Americans play in the final, he would travel back to Grand Forks on the day of the series opener.

In the past, UND has sometimes used players in that situation; other times, it has not.

USA Hockey also had considered UND freshman forward Owen McLaughlin and sophomore defenseman Brent Johnson — they participated in the summer evaluation camp — but neither made the preliminary roster and won't be going to the World Juniors.

UND rookie forward Dylan James participated in Hockey Canada's summer camp as well, but he is not expected to be on Canada's squad.

Blake has 19 points in 17 games this season for the Fighting Hawks, ranking second among all National Collegiate Hockey Conference rookies behind Western Michigan's Ryan McAllister.

The fourth-round Carolina Hurricanes pick has a history of winning titles. He won both a prep state title with Eden Prairie and a United States Hockey League Clark Cup with the Chicago Steel in 2020-21.

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Team USA is coached by Rand Pecknold of Quinnipiac. Its assistants are Pat Ferschweiler (Western Michigan) and Reid Cashman (Dartmouth).

Ferschweiler will coach against Blake on Friday and Saturday in Kalamazoo before the two join forces.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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