Wisconsinâ€™s rich tradition at the international hockey level continues this year, as a trio of Badgers were announced as part of the first 15 members of Team USA for the 2014 IIHF World Championships. Jake McCabe, Jake Gardiner and Craig Smith all will don the USA shirt in Minsk, Belarus from May 9-25.
All three also happen to be NHLers as of today, with McCabe signing with the Buffalo Sabers after this past season in college. Gardiner is a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, while Smith is a forward with the Nashville Predators.
The trio have also all represented Team USA at various levels, but for Gardiner and McCabe this is the first at the highest level. Smith has been to three previous World Championships, while McCabe captained Team USA to a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championships and Gardiner earned a gold in the 2011 World Juniors.
For the two full-time NHLers and former Badgers, theyâ€™ve experienced good success individually this season.
Garidner is in his third NHL season and had 10 goals and 35 points in 80 games played, while Smith (a Badgers from 2009-11) recorded a Predators-best 24 goals and was third on the team with 52 points in 79 games played.
With three players on this roster, the Badgers have been represented on Team USA for the 34th straight World Championships, dating back to 1978. During the Olympic years of 1980, 1984 and 1988 there were no World Championships, yet Badgers were still members of Team USA for those three Olympics.