Friday, April 15, 2011

Skille, Smith, Gardiner to represent USA at IIHF Men's World Championships

The United States squad that will compete in the 2011 IIHF Men's World Championships April 29 - May 15, in Kosice and Bratislava, Slovakia will have a major Wisconsin presence as two former Badgers (Jack Skille, Jake Gardiner) and one current member (Craig Smith) have been named to the roster.

Florida Panthers forward Jack Skille was named to the roster earlier in the week. The Madison native is no stranger to international competitions as he won a bronze medal with the United States World Junior team in 2007 and a gold medal with the USA U18 squad at the World Championships in 2005. A product of Verona high school and the United States National Team Development Program, Skille recorded 19 points in 62 games between the Chicago Blackhawks and after a mid-season trade, the Florida Panthers.

Looking for another puck moving defenseman that can skate, the United States added Toronto Marlies defenseman Jake Gardiner to the roster today. Gardiner recently finished up his junior season with the Wisconsin Badgers before signing a pro contract with Toronto. The Minnetonka, Minnesota native recorded 41 points in 41 games for the Badgers during his junior season and was named a second team All-American by the American Hockey Coaches Association. Gardiner won a gold medal for the United States during the 2010 World Junior Championships.

In somewhat of an eyebrow raising move, the team USA brass has also added current Wisconsin forward Craig Smith to the roster. The Madison native paced all Badger forwards in scoring this season with 43 points in 41 games including a team leading 19 goals. The Madison La Follette product is only one of two players not currently playing pro hockey to be named to the roster. Boston College forward Chris Kreider is the other. Smith represented his country in the World Junior A challenge in 2007 and 2008, winning a gold medal with the 08 squad when was named to the all tournament team.

Skille, Gardiner, and Smith will begin play on Saturday, April 30th when they kick off the tournament against Austria at 9:15 AM CST. The United States will also play Norway and Sweden in first round action.

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