September 27, 2022


Nate Leaman, who will coach the United States at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, said that while back-to-back titles at the event would be a great feat, it’s certainly not the driving force behind his team’s bid to repeat as champions .

“I think it’s always out there, over your head and in the cloud,” Leaman said. “But we didn’t win last year talking about it every day. We won the gold medal by preparing and working and that’s our focus right now. We’re going to play well in the tournament if we prepare well for the tournament. And that’s all our focus.”

The 2022 WJC will be held August 9-20 at Rogers Place in Edmonton. The tournament was originally scheduled for Dec. 26-Jan. 5, but was postponed after four days of play when the United States, Czech Republic and Russia had to forfeit qualifying round play after players tested positive for COVID-19. December match results will not count when the tournament resumes.

The United States will join Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Austria in the qualifying round in Group B. Group A will feature Canada, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Latvia.

All games from the tournament will be broadcast live in the United States on the NHL Network.

The United States has won the WJC five times (2004, 2010, 2013, 2017, 2021), but has never won back-to-back titles.

Canada was the last team to win back-to-back tournaments, winning five in a row from 2005-09.

Lyman enters his 12th season as the head coach at Providence College. He has reached the Frozen Four twice and won the NCAA Championship in 2015.

Four players from the 2021 squad are on the roster for the 2022 WJC: forwards Brett Berard (New York Rangers) and Landon Slagert (Chicago Blackhawks), and defensemen Brock Faber (Minnesota Wild) and Tyler Kleven (Ottawa Senators). Forward Matty Beniers (Seattle Kraken) and defenseman Jake Sanderson The (Ottawa Senators) also participated in the 2021 WJC and played in the tournament in December, but will not play when the tournament resumes, each opting to prepare for their NHL team’s training camp.

“We didn’t discuss who’s not here … that didn’t come up at all,” Leaman said. “I’m proud of the lads we’ve got, they all want to represent their country. They’re playing for their country and I think they’re going to be a really ruthless bunch.”

Leaman discussed the upcoming tournament, expectations for his team and which players could make an impact in a Q&A with NHL.com.

How hard of a job was it to narrow down that roster and how important is it to have four returnees?

“We had our 2023 WJC team going at the same time as the 2022 WJC camp (July 24-August 3), so a lot of these guys were actually here for the 2023 team. We only brought 28 for our team, but having the two teams was really good because there were some guys that you could see as belonging to our team. It was an interesting process. It was a difficult process running two camps, but I think it was good to have that other team and be able to As far as the returning players, they’ve played in the tournament and had success in the tournament, so they’re going to be the leaders of our team.”

Will goaltending be the biggest question mark entering the tournament? And who can be the first right now?

“I think we have two guys in Kaidan Mbereko (2023 draft eligible) and Andrew Oke (2023 draft eligible) who both showed up to camp. These two guys were playing in our exhibition games in Edmonton before the tournament started. So we will determine more after these games.”

Is there a player who surprised you during development camp?

“Goaltender Andrew Oke definitely surprised us. I don’t think any of us knew much about him. He’s been really positive and he’s played pretty good hockey up to this point with Saginaw in the Ontario Hockey League. So for a guy who was one of the latest additions to our camp when we knew [goalie] Drew Comeso (The Blackhawks) wouldn’t be here, that’s a real positive.”

Do you have any idea who you might have in the center and could you provide a front six between the forwards?

“Our five centers will probably consist of Dominic James (Blackhawks), Logan Cooley (Arizona Coyotes), Thomas Bordeleau (San Jose Sharks), Charlie Strammel (2023 draft eligible) and Redmond Savage (Detroit Red Wings). We did a lot of mixing and matching with the line combinations. A top six could consist of Bordeleau, Matthew Kniss (Toronto Maple Leafs), Matt Coronato (Calgary Flames), Cooley … Carter Mazur (Red Wings), Maki Samoskevics (Florida Panthers) and Slaggert are in that mix as well.”

The United States will repeat as world junior champions if…

“We’re relentless. I just think this is going to be a team that’s going to come together as a team, play as a team and not back down for anything. They just keep coming and coming and coming.”

You are entering your 12th season as the head coach at Providence. Do you consider yourself a lifelong college coach? Or are you open to other opportunities?

“I’m always listening. Like I said last year, you’re always inspired by the highest level.”

Photos: Mike Caples, USA Hockey





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