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Bulldogs defensemen Kaiser, Kelley invited to World Junior Summer Showcase

Hermantown's Plante auditioning for Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

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Wyatt Kaiser (5) of Minnesota Duluth takes the puck from Massachusetts forward Anthony Del Gaizo (27) during an NCAA Frozen Four semifinal game on Thursday, April 8, 2021, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Clint Austin / File / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Minnesota Duluth sophomore defensemen Wyatt Kaiser and Conner Kelley are among the 44 players invited to take part in the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase this summer in Plymouth, Michigan.

Scheduled for July 24-31 at USA Hockey Arena, the showcase will also include teams from Finland and Sweden. The showcase is a chance for federations to evaluate players for the 2022 World Junior Championship, set for Dec. 26, 2021-Jan. 5, 2022, in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.

Both Kaiser and Kelley were key components for the Bulldogs on the blue line as freshmen in 2020-21 during the run to the NCAA Frozen Four.

Kaiser, who doesn't turn 19 until the end of July, was an NCHC All-Rookie team selection last season after posting 10 points, all assists, in 28 games. He was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the third round, No. 81 overall, in 2020.

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Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin (center) talks with freshmen defensemen Wyatt Kaiser (left) and Connor Kelley during a late October practice at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. (Clint Austin / 2020 file / News Tribune)

Kelley finished his freshman season strong, going from rotating into the lineup as the seventh defensemen to getting top-four minutes. He posted three goals and two assists in 25 games.

USA Hockey invited 16 defensemen, including Grand Rapids native and incoming St. Cloud State recruit Jack Peart, who had 11 goals and 24 assists as a senior for the GRHS Thunderhawks in 2020-21.

Plante auditioning for Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Hermantown's Zam Plante is one of 40 players who will take part in a three-game series to determine the final Team USA roster for the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

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Hermantown’s Zam Plante handles the puck during a game against Duluth East on March 8, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / File / News Tribune)

Plante had been taking part in the USA Hockey Boys Select-17 Camp in Amherst, New York. The three games will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday and the final U.S. Under-18 National Team roster will be selected after those games.

The 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup is scheduled for Aug. 2-7 in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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Plante scored 29 goals and 32 assists in 20 games as a sophomore at Hermantown High School in 2020-21.

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