Head Coach Nick Conway has announced a squad of eighteen players to travel to Lille, France for Champions Challenge II, July 2-10.
“It is enormously beneficial to have qualified for Champions Challenge II as it provides our team with another opportunity to compete against excellent non-continental opposition from Europe and Asia, providing an ability to expand out hockey horizons,” said Conway.
The event comprises teams ranked fourteenth through twenty-fourth in the world. Eight teams will be split into two pools for three days of round robin action. The teams will them advance to a crossover quarterfinal round to determine the playoff teams. The winners move on to the semi-finals and finals, while the losers will continue to play to determine final placement.
Teams will play six matches over the nine-day event. Pool A features: USA, China, Austria and the Czech Republic and Pool B features France, Ireland, Russia and Scotland.
The Men's Team recently completed a test series with Trinidad and Tobago in Moorpark, CA. The series finished with three wins for USA.
“Overall, when we played well we were proficient and indeed dominant for periods,” said Conway. “Our resilience has grown significantly and to come from behind and win the first three games is a testament to the growth within our group. Fortunately, we have time to work on fixing up the defensives lapses prior to the Champions Challenge II.”
Ranveer Kundi (Glendora, CA), Andrew Zayac (Columbia, MD) and Michiel Dijxhoorn (Tampa, FL) gained international experience during the series, playing in their first international competition with the Senior Team and earning their first cap. Joining the squad in France will be rookie Dijxhoorn, who gained selection to the team at the 2011 California Cup.
“Michiel is a fantastic addition to our team,” said Conway. “He has a great demeanor and handles himself well both on and off the field. He has a good hockey brain and is adapting to our way of playing very quickly. He is a great ball handler and very hungry for success at the International level, attributes that are both required and welcomed.”
The traveling team will depart for Lille, France on June 28 for pre-tournament training. They will compete in a training match against France on Wednesday, June 29 prior to the start of the tournament. Nick and the team have high expectations and are looking to achieve a top four finish.
“The format for the tournament is such that the crunch match is on July 7. Winning this match determines 1-4 and 5-8 placements. Playing well through the pool phase will be important to providing a foundation for success on July 7 and beyond.”
The following athletes have been named to the 2011 Champions Challenge II travel squad: Jarred Martin (Albany, NY), Michiel Dijxhoorn (Tampa, FL), Jon Ginolfi (Moorpark, CA), Will Holt (Camarillo, CA), Steven Mann (New York, NY), Pat Cota (Camarillo, CA), Rob Schilling (Moorpark, CA), Tom Sheridan (Ridgewood, NJ), Liam Walsh (Rockport, WA), Shawn Nakamura (Thousand Oaks, CA), Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura, CA), Kevin Barber (Camarillo, CA), Sean Harris (Moorpark, CA) Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, CA), Moritz Runzi (Boston, MA), Ian Scally (Thousand Oaks, CA), Andy Sheridan (Ridgewood, NJ), Pat Harris (Moorpark, CA)
The schedule is as follows:
- USA vs Czech Republic, Saturday, July 2 @ 1:00pm
- USA vs China, Sunday, July 3 @ 1:00pm
- USA vs Austria, Tuesday, July 5 @ 1:00pm
- Quarterfinals, Thursday, July 7
- Semifinals, Saturday, July 8
- Finals, Sunday, July 9