2014 IIHF World Junior Championship: Nic Kerdiles expected to play key role

Wisconsin center Nic Kerdiles leans in for position vs. Finland. - Bruce Bennett (Getty Images Sport)

Wisconsin's Nic Kerdiles is penciled into Team USA's top line for the WJC, and is expected to be a point producer for the Americans.

One year after being left off the roster, Wisconsin sophomore Nic Kerdiles has fully entrenched himself as an integral part of Team USA's quest for gold at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships in Malmo, Sweden.

Due in large part to his NCAA-mandated 10-game suspension last season, Kerdiles was left home when the U.S. captured a gold medal in Russia, a team captained by Wisconsin defenseman Jake McCabe. USA Hockey management didn't feel Kerdiles had enough game action leading up to the tournament, unfortunate, especially considering Kerdiles' pedigree as one of the top 1994-born forwards in the world.

This season is different, however. Kerdiles is paired up with Boston University center Danny O'Regan and Miami winger Riley Barber on USA's top forward line. While the team still has one more forward cut before they finalize the roster, it most certainly will not be Kerdiles.

A native of Irvine, Calif., Kerdiles' game has continued to grow during his time in Madison. The Sophomore center currently leads the Badgers in scoring this season with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 14 games. Kerdiles has been especially good of late, notching nine points in his last five games, which includes four multi-point games.

No stranger to a U.S. uniform, Kerdiles spent two seasons at the National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., before coming to Wisconsin to play for the Badgers. During his time at the program, Kerdiles won two gold medals at the U-18 World Championships. After being left home last year, this is Kerdiles' final go-round to win gold at the most prestigious junior tournament in the world.

"It's my last chance so I want to make this team and want to help this team achieve a gold medal, which is what we've set out to do," Kerdiles told SB Nation last week.

The IIHF U-20 World Junior Championships have become appointment television for Wisconsin hockey fans. Since 1978, 48 Badgers have donned the colors of their home countries at the tournament. Kerdiles will become No. 49 when he puts on the red, white and blue sweater Thursday as the U.S. opens the tournament vs. the Czech Republic.

"I'm going to enjoy the spotlight of playing in a tournament on TV and having all my family and friends able to watch," Kerdiles said. "It's going to be a fun time."

This year all Team USA games will be broadcast on the NHL Network and also streamed online at NHL.com.

2014 IIHF World Junior Championship TV Schedule

Thurs., Dec. 26 Czech Republic 11:30 a.m. ET
TV: NHL Network
Stream: NHL.com
Sat., Dec. 28 Slovakia 7:30 a.m. ET
TV: NHL Network
Stream: NHL.com
Sun., Dec. 29 Germany 9:00 a.m. ET
TV: NHL Network
Stream: NHL.com
Tues., Dec. 31 Canada 11:30 a.m. ET
TV: NHL Network
Stream: NHL.com
Thurs., Jan. 2 Quarterfinals TBD
Sat., Jan. 4 Semifinals TBD
Sun., Jan. 5 Medal Games TBD

Wisconsin Badgers to play in the WJC

Nic Kerdiles (USA) 2014
Jake McCabe (USA) 2013 (Gold)
John Ramage (USA) 2010 (Gold), 2011 (Bronze)
Derek Stepan (USA) 2010 (Gold)
Jake Gardiner (USA) (Gold)
Ryan McDonagh (USA) 2009
Cody Goloubef (Canada) 2009 (Gold)
Kyle Turris (Canada) 2008

Jamie McBain (USA)

2007 (Bronze), 2008
Blake Geoffrion (USA) 2007 (Bronze), 2008
Jack Skille (USA) 2006, 2007 (Bronze)
Jake Dowell (USA) 2004 (Gold), 2005
Jeff Likens (USA) 2004 (Gold), 2005
Ryan Suter (USA) 2003, 2004 (Gold), 2005
Dany Heatley (Canada) 2000 (Bronze), 2001 (Bronze)
Brad Winchester (USA)

2000

David Tanabe (USA) 1999
Matt Doman (USA) 1999
Dustin Kuk (USA) 1998
Dan Tompkins (USA) 1995
Jim Carey (USA) 1993
Mark Strobel (USA) 1993
Brian Rafalski (USA) 1992 (Bronze), 1993
Chris Tucker (USA) 1992 (Bronze)
Sean Hill (USA) 1990
Jason Zent (USA) 1990
Barry Richter (USA) 1989, 1990
Rodger Sykes (USA)

1989
Rob Mendel (USA) 1988
Paul Ranheim (USA) 1986 (Bronze)
Scott Mellanby (USA) 1986 (Silver)
Mike Richter (USA) 1985, 1986 (Bronze)
Gary Suter (USA) 1984
Marty Wiitala (USA) 1984
Tony Granato (USA) 1983, 1984
Jim Johannson (USA) 1983, 1984
Ernie Vargas (USA) 1983
Pat Flatley (Canada) 1983 (Bronze)
Tim Thomas (USA) 1982, 1983
Chris Chelios (USA) 1982
Charlie Lundeen (USA) 1982
John Johannson (USA) 1981
Pat Ethier (USA) 1980, 1981
Brian Mullen (USA) 1980, 1981
Lexi Doner (USA) 1980
Todd Lecy (USA) 1980
Peter Johnson (USA) 1979
Ron Griffin (USA) 1978
Scott Lecy (USA) 1978

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