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Wisconsin Athletics | December 19, 2016

Wisconsin's sophomore captain Luke Kunin named World Junior captain

MADISON, Wis. ÔÇô Wisconsin's sophomore captain Luke Kunin will reprise that same role with Team USA for the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship later this month.

Kunin, who leads the Badgers with 11 goals through this season's first 16 games, has already been captain for another version of Team USA.

The Chesterfield, Missouri, native captained Team USA to gold at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championship and scored six goals in seven games during the tournament.

Kunin, the 15th overall pick by the Minnesota Wild in the 2016 NHL Draft, spent 2013-15 with the U.S. National Team Development Program on the under-17 and then the under-18 team, taking part in various international tournaments.

He adds to a list of recent Badger captains for the Americans at the World Junior Championship, including Jake McCabe in 2013, John Ramage in 2011, Derek Stepan in 2010 and Ryan Suter in 2005.

Badgers have played a prominent role in all three gold medal runs for Team USA. Former UW head coach Mike Eaves led the 2004 team to the country's first medal at the event, with the help of Badgers Jake Dowell, Jeff Likens and Ryan Suter.

The 2010 team won gold with Stepan as captain, as well as John Ramage and Jake Gardiner on the roster, and Mark Osiecki as an assistant coach.

In 2013, McCabe led Team USA to gold, again with Osiecki as an assistant coach.

This year's World Junior Championship takes place in Montreal and Toronto from Dec. 26- Jan. 5.

The players are currently in the midst of training camp through Dec. 20 at HarborCenter in Buffalo, New York. An additional camp in Oshawa, Ontario, runs from Dec. 20-24. The U.S. will play pre-tournament games Dec. 21 against Switzerland at the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa, Ontario, and Dec. 23 against the Czech Republic at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario.

The 27-man roster will be cut down to 23 before the event begins. The final team is expected to be named by Dec. 24.

The United States will open up group play against Latvia on Dec. 26 at 2:30 p.m. CT at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, where they will play all of their group games. The rest of the five-team group consists of Canada, Russia and Slovakia.

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