HOUGHTON - Michigan Tech sophomore forward Blake Pietila has earned a spot on Team USA's final roster for the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.
The rosters were announced Sunday in Helsinki, Finland, where the team played pre-tournament games against Sweden (3-2 overtime win Thursday) and Finland (5-1 loss Saturday). Pietila scored the only goal in Saturday's loss.
Since the tournament runs Dec. 27 through Jan. 5, Pietila, whose 10 goals is twice as many as any Huskies teammate, will not be available for this weekend's 48th annual Great Lakes Invitational.
Michigan Tech forward Blake Pietila, who earned a spot on the Team USA roster for the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships, skates into the corner against North Dakota defenseman Nick Mattson in UND’s 4-1 win over the Huskies on Dec. 15. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
"I hope we lose Blake. I hope he gets the opportunity to represent his country," Tech coach Mel Pearson said following the Huskies' series against North Dakota. "It'd be a great honor for Blake and our program. We'd be very happy for him.
" He's maybe our best player right now, our best forward," Pearson added. "To lose him will be tough, but at Michigan we went through that a lot. We lost a lot of good players and other guys have to step in and they usually do and play well. We'll have the same situation at Tech."
Pearson, who was an assistant coach for 23 years at the University of Michigan, will face the Wolverines on Saturday for the first time since leaving Ann Arbor for Houghton. U of M will be without standout defenseman Jacob Trouba, an assistant captain on Team USA, who assisted on Pietila's goal against Finland.
See Friday's Daily Mining Gazette for a full GLI preview.
Pietila and Trouba will try to help the U.S. earn its third medal in four years at the WJC. Team USA won gold in 2010 in Saskatoon, Sask., but only won bronze in 2011 in Buffalo, N.Y.
The first WJC game for the U.S. is 8 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) Thursday against Germany, and the game, like all Team USA games during the tournament, will be broadcast on NHL Network (DirecTV 215, Dish 403) and be streamed live on NHL.com.
For updates on Pietila and Team USA, and the Huskies and the GLI, follow Stephen Anderson on Twitter (twitter.com/steander) and interact using the #USAWJC and #mtuhky hashtags.