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UMD men's hockey: Four Bulldogs receive invite to USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp

Camp will be used to evaluate rosters for the rescheduled 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship in August and the upcoming 2023 tournament in December and January.

Minnesota Duluth plays Denver in regional final game in Loveland
Minnesota Duluth forward Dominic James (17) skates with the puck against Denver defenseman Mike Benning (20) during the NCAA regional championship game on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Four current Bulldogs and one former are among the 60 players who have been invited to USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp scheduled for July 24-Aug. 3 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.

Rising juniors Blake Biondi and Wyatt Kaiser, rising sophomore Dominic James and incoming freshman Isaac Howard will take part in the summer camp that will be used to evaluate players for the upcoming IIHF World Junior Championship tournaments in August and December.

Former UMD defenseman Connor Kelley, who has transferred to Providence, will also take part.

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The summer WJC tournament set for Aug. 9-20 in Edmonton, Alberta, is the rescheduled 2022 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, that was canceled four days in after multiple games were canceled and forfeited due to a COVID-19 outbreak among numerous teams. The 2022 World Juniors in August will be a whole new tournament — the reset button was hit — and not a continuation of the debacle last winter.

USA Hockey hopes to announce a new U.S. National Junior Team roster for summer tournament by Aug. 3. Kaiser and James were part of the original team back in December, while Kelley was cut in the leadup to the tournament.

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The 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship is also slated to take place in Canada on Dec. 26, 2022-Jan. 5, 2023 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick. The USA roster for that tournament is expected to be announced in mid-December.

James — a native of Plymouth, Michigan — had a goal against Finland in a pre-tournament loss to Finland. Kaiser had an assist in a preliminary win over Slovakia.

Minnesota Duluth Miami Men's Hockey
Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin talks to Minnesota Duluth forward Blake Biondi (7) and Minnesota Duluth defenseman Wyatt Kaiser (5) during a media timeout on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, at Amsoil Arena in Duluth.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

James, who centered a line that included Biondi, used a strong first semester in 2021-22 to play his way onto the original 2022 U.S. WJC roster. He finished with six goals and 12 assists in 39 games for UMD.

Biondi, a winger out of Hermantown, had 17 goals and 11 assists in 42 games for UMD last year while Kaiser, a defenseman, totaled two goals and 17 assists in 34 games.

Howard will join the Bulldogs in the fall after playing for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program the previous two seasons. He’s considered a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft in early July.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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