2014 World Championships: Former Badgers Gardiner, Smith, McCabe to play for USA

Jake McCabe got his feet wet in the NHL this season and now gets to play for Team USA. - Bruce Bennett - Getty Images

The trio of former Badgers named to Team USA extends a streak of 34 World Championships for the Wisconsin men's hockey team.

Three former Wisconsin men's hockey players will get another opportunity to don the red, white and blue for the United States. It was announced on Tuesday that Jake McCabe, Jake Gardiner and Craig Smith have been named to the initial U.S. Men's National Team roster for the 2014 IIHF Men's World Championship that will take place May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus.

According to a release from Wisconsin athletic communications, 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.

The Team USA nod for McCabe is a special one given the fact he played for the Badgers this past season. After wrapping up a junior season in which he registered eight goals and 25 points in 36 games and was named a first-team West All-American, McCabe signed a 3-year entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres.

McCabe made his NHL debut April 3 in St. Louis and ended up notching one assist in seven games for the Sabres, who recently wrapped up their season over the weekend.

A native of Eau Claire, Wis., McCabe is no stranger to the United States uniform. McCabe spent two seasons in Ann Arbor playing for the U.S. NTDP prior to coming to Wisconsin and won a gold medal at the 2011 U-18 World Championships.

McCabe also captained 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.

Also making his debut on the Men's National Team roster is Gardiner, who recently completed his third NHL season as a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs. This past season Gardiner scored 10 goals and notched 31 points in 80 games.

A 2011 second-team All-American at Wisconsin, Gardiner -- like McCabe -- also won a World Junior Championship. Gardiner helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the 2010 tournament.

No stranger to the World Championships,  Smith will be making his fourth appearance in the event. During the 2013 tournament Smith registered four goals and 14 points in 10 games, helping Team USA earn a bronze medal.

Smith 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.

For more hockey coverage, follow Andy on Twitter --
You can also reach Andy via e-mail (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)

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