April 15, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- With the NHL regular season completed, USA Hockey announced today the first 15 players of the 2014 U.S. Men's National Team that will compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus.
Among the first 15 are three former Badgers, including 2014 CCM American Hockey Coaches Association First-Team All-American defenseman Jake McCabe (Eau Claire, Wis.), who after playing this season for Wisconsin, played seven games with the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. McCabe will be joined by Toronto Maple Leafs' defenseman Jake Gardiner (Minnetonka, Minn.) and Nashville Predators' forward Craig Smith (Madison, Wis.).
McCabe, who posted one assist in seven games played with the Buffalo Sabres, finished his Wisconsin season with eight goals and 25 points in 36 games played. A U.S. National Development Team Program product, McCabe has enjoyed great success on the international stage, captaining the 2013 U.S. World Junior Team to the gold medal for the third time in World Junior Championship history. He was selected to the media all-star team at the event after ranking third among tournament defensemen with three goals and six points and sitting second among all players with a plus-9 for the event. He also won a gold medal at the 2011 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
Gardiner, a second-team All-American in 2011, makes his first appearance on the national team. Like McCabe, Gardiner boasts a gold medal from the world junior championship, winning his in 2010. Now a defenseman with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Gardiner just completed his third NHL season, scoring 10 goals and 31 points in 80 games. He played at Wisconsin from 2008 until 2011.
Smith is a world championship veteran and will make his fourth appearance with the squad. Smith has been one of the stars for Team USA at recent events, helping the team to the bronze medal in 2013 by posting four goals and 14 points in 10 games. He contributed two assists in four games in 2012 and three goals and six points in seven games in 2011.
He just completed his third season with the NHL's Nashville Predators, leading the team with 24 goals and ranking third on the squad with 52 points in 79 games played. He posted 76 points in 82 games while at Wisconsin from 2009-11.
At least one Wisconsin alumni has skated in every world championship dating back to 1978. There were no world championships held during the Olympic years of 1980, 1984 and 1988, though Badgers competed during all three of those Olympic Winter Games.