Two Fighting Irish players have been added to Team USA’s squad for the 2020 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, per Notre Dame Athletics.
USA Hockey has announced that Notre Dame players Jake Pivonka and Spencer Stastney will be part of the roster heading into the tournament, which starts on December 26 and delivers its gold medal final on January 5.
The competition consists of 10 nations split into two groups each featuring five teams. It takes place in the Czech Republic for the fourth time and Team USA is among the favorites to take home the gold next month.
Pivonka and Stastney’s inclusion brings the number of Notre Dame players to have participated in the tournament to 22.
Notre Dame’s director of hockey operations, Nick Siergiej, is also working with the team in a role similar to the one he operates in for the university, having done so when the nation captured bronze in Helsinki, Finland in 2016.
Pivonka is a sophomore forward who has played in 17 games this season, scoring four goals and assisting four others for eight points. He played 39 games in his freshman year and ended the term with two goals and eight assists for 10 points – both of his goals were match winners. The Illinois native skated for the US National Team Development Program for two years before joining the Irish in 2018. He was made the fourth-round draft choice – 103rd overall – by the New York Islanders in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Stastney, meanwhile, is a sophomore defenseman who has played all 18 games for Notre Dame this season. He has two goals and six assists, contributing to a total of eight points this season.
Having also played 39 games as a freshman, the Wisconsin native won four points via a single goal and three assists but his goal was the one that gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead in the 2019 Big 10 Championship game back in March, helping them win 3-2 against Penn State. He played for the US National Team Development Program from 2016 to 2018. And was drafted as the 131st overall pick by the Nashville Predators as part of the fifth round in 2018.
As it relates to the tournament itself, Canada is the +220 favorite. The nation has the most medals overall, as well as the most gold medals in junior history at 31 and 17 respectively. They ended a five-year gold drought in 2015 and won the tournament again in 2018.
Finland is also tipped to outshine all competitors and defend its title after claiming victory in British Columbia a year ago. The win marked their third in the last six years, which is pretty impressive when the fact that they only won gold twice before 2014 is taken into account.
If you’re keen on getting in on the betting action, go to onlinesportbetting.ca for all the online sports betting info you need. Finland is +700 despite all of the confidence in their ability to come out on top, while USA is +350. Russia is +475, Sweden is +625 and the Czech Republic is +1200.
Distant bets for the tournament include Slovakia at +6600, Switzerland at +6600, Germany at +10000 and Kazakhstan also at +10000.