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Sports

Bjork named to preliminary World Junior roster

| Wednesday, December 9, 2015

As the No. 18 Irish prepare for their final game of the first semester — a rivalry game against No. 3 Boston College on Thursday — one member of the team got some good news this week in his search for a spot on Team USA.

Irish sophomore Anders Bjork, a left wing from Mequon, Wisconsin, was named to Team USA’s World Junior Championship preliminary roster Monday, and he will continue to work towards making the final roster over the coming week.

At his weekly press conference, Irish head coach Jeff Jackson discussed what Bjork needs to do before the final rosters are announced during the break.

Irish sophomore left wing Anders Bjork carries the puck during Notre Dame’s 3-2 win over Northeastern on Nov. 12 at Compton Family Ice Arena. Bjork has scored five goals and recorded 10 assists on the season.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish sophomore left wing Anders Bjork carries the puck during Notre Dame’s 3-2 win over Northeastern on Nov. 12 at Compton Family Ice Arena. Bjork has scored five goals and recorded 10 assists on the season.

“I think they [the US coaching staff] already have a pretty good idea based on the summer camp,” Jackson said. “I think that [Bjork’s] performance in the summer helped him, and I think he’s had a decent first half. I think they’re looking at him as a depth player, like a third or fourth line guy that maybe has the potential, if somebody was to get hurt, to maybe step up and play on one of the first two lines.

“So I think they look at him as being a little bit more of a utility guy that can kill penalties. I don’t think he’ll be a powerplay guy, just based on the other guys they have. He’s still gotta make that team, and they’ll probably be there Thursday night watching, because they have a lot of candidates between Anders and Boston College. I think they’re still evaluating this week before they get to the camp next week.”

The summer camp Jackson mentioned refers to Bjork’s participation in USA Hockey’s National Junior Team’s evaluation camp, which took place in Lake Placid, New York, in early August. So far this season for Notre Dame, Bjork ranks second on the team with 15 points on five goals and 10 assists.

Before his spot on the preliminary roster was announced Monday, Bjork said it had been a challenge to remain focused on his team while also trying to earn his spot on the world juniors team.

“It’s been on my mind a little bit,” Bjork said last Wednesday. “I try to keep it off my mind and just focus on winning games and contributing to our team, but, I mean, I think about it every once in a while. Just talking to other people, they tell me to focus on winning games and things like that, which I’ve been trying to do. Just be the best I can for our team and everything else will work out.”

While Bjork was named to the preliminary 29-man roster on Monday, the final 23-man roster is expected to be announced by USA Hockey before Christmas. The team still has a training camp from Dec. 14-18 in Boston and then from Dec. 19-23 in Vierumacki, Finland, in order to finalize the roster.

Bjork will also participate in two exhibition games for Team USA before the final rosters are released. The first will be Dec. 18 against Massachusetts, the team Bjork and his Irish teammates swept at Compton Family Ice Arena over the weekend, and the second will be Dec. 22 against Team Finland in Vierumacki.

If Bjork makes it onto the final roster, he will participate in the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.

Bjork still has one more game with the Irish, a trip to Boston College on Thursday, before closing out the first half of the season and reporting to training camp for Team USA on Monday.

Notre Dame coordinator of hockey operations Nick Siergiej and equipment manager Dave Gilbert will also join Team USA’s staff for the tournament. Siergiej was named the squad’s video coordinator while Gilbert will hold the same position he does with the Irish.

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