By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
The World Junior Championships have begun in different International Ice Hockey Federation divisions across the globe, and in nearly every current and upcoming World Juniors event, you will find USPHL and NCDC players lining the rosters, proud to represent their home countries.
We’ll take a look at each player that our member organizations reported to USPHL media headquarters as playing in their respective WJC events. Keep an eye on USPHL and NCDC X accounts for updates on these players after their tournaments begin.
Sacha Rapchuk and Onrii Dalgity will suit up for Team Australia when the Division II Group B Championships begin Jan. 14 and run to Jan. 20, 2024, in Belgrade, Serbia. Rapchuk plays for the Atlanta MadHatters Premier team and is in his second season in the USPHL Premier (totaling 30 points in 47 games) and second year with Australia’s WJC team. Last year, he helped Australia win the Division III Gold Medal, which earned the Skating Roos passage into the Division II Group B tournament.
His longtime teammate in Australia, Dalgity currently plays for the MadHatters Elite team as a defenseman and he has two assists in 16 games. January will see his first WJC event.
Idaho Falls Spud Kings
Martin Crepinsek joined the Spud Kings from Celje, Slovenia, and he’ll represent his home country in the WJC Division I Group B tournament that starts Monday, Dec. 11 and runs to Dec. 17, and will be hosted by Slovenia in the city of Bled. The 2005-born Crepinsek led the Austria Under-20 League in goals with 29 last season, which also saw his second World Under-18 appearance for Slovenia. In 20 NCDC games, he has a 4-4-8 line.
Islanders Hockey Club
Jamie Eyre, an ‘04 from Morzine, France, will see his second IIHF tournament with Team France, and his first WJC, when they begin the Division I Group A tournament in Budapest, Hungary, on Dec. 10. That tournament wraps up Dec. 16. Eyre,j a defenseman with the IHC Premier team, has 33 points in 48 games these last two USPHL seasons, including traveling with the Islanders to the Nationals in Utica last year. He helped France win a Bronze medal in the 2022 World Under-18 Championships.
Two other IHC Premier players, Mees Van Wingerden and Makar Korotchenko, will represent Netherlands in the Division II Group A championships. This will be Van Wingerden’s third WJC event, and fourth IIHF event. In 2021-22, he won Bronze in the World Under-18’s and Silver in the World Junior Championship Division II Group B. He has 22 points in 52 Premier games and was also part of the IHC’s Nationals-qualifying team last year.
Korotchenko played largely in the USPHL Elite in 2022-23 before moving up to full-time duty in the USPHL Premier this year. He finished his time in the Elite with 51 points in 35 games and also played in the Elite Nationals last spring with the Northern Cyclones. In the Premier, he has 12 points in 20 Premier games.
Lake Tahoe Lakers
Ugnius Simbelis has played in 19 games with the Lakers, putting up four points. He will play in the Division II Group A tournament, which takes place in Dumfries, Great Britain, Dec. 11-17. He was with Lithuania last season as well for both the WJC Division II Group A and World Under-18 Division II Group A tournaments, winning Gold at the U18 level and Bronze in the WJC.
Ontario Jr. Reign
Matus Trnka, one of the Jr. Reign’s regular goalies this year, is headed to Belgrade in January to join Atlanta’s Sacha Rapchuk and Onrii Dalgity and others in the WJC Division II Group B. Last year, Trnka helped Australia win the Division III Gold Medal, earning them the promotion to this year’s WJCIIB event. He won all four of his games and registered a .955 save percentage and 1.00 GAA, the 2023 tournament’s best. He stands at 5-3-0-1 with a .925 save percentage for the Jr. Reign in his first North American season.
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
Ryu Shirozu will make his World Junior Championship debut with Team Japan between Dec. 10-16 in Budapest, Hungary, at the Division I Group A Championships. The ‘06 P.A.L. NCDC defenseman has played in eight games this year, after being picked up from the Ontario Hockey Academy of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL). He was a member of Team Japan’s championship-winning team last year at the World Under-18 Championships Division I Group A.
Dominykas Jurjevas will pull on the jersey of his home country of Lithuania when the Division II Group A WJC tournament opens in Dumfries, Great Britain, Dec. 11-17. He is enjoying another very strong season in the USPHL Elite with Potomac, as he currently has 39 points in 21 games this year and 82 points in 53 career games.
Rockets Hockey Club
Jonas Dobnig is competing in the Division I Group A championships running Dec. 10-17 in Budapest, Hungary. Austria played last season in the top 10 tournament and Dobnig, a third-year Rockets NCDC player, was awarded Fastest Skater in the preliminary rounds. This is Dobnig’s third time playing for Team Austria in the WJC, including twice in the top group. He also played for Austria in the World Under-18’s in 2021-22, putting up four points in four games. He has 53 points in 104 NCDC games.
Additionally, Jacob Carey, of the Rockets Premier team, is representing New Zealand in the WJC Division III Group A tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. Carey was a standout for last year’s Team New Zealand in the III-B tournament, which New Zealand won with the help of Carey’s nine points in five games, earning him Top Player Of the Team honors. A past player for A21 Academy in Canada, Carey currently has 15 points in 16 games for the Rockets. He’s also captained the New Zealand Under-18 Team last season.
South Shore Kings
Tyler Maxner, of the NCDC team, is suiting up for Team Japan at the Division I Group A Championships in Budapest, Hungary. This is Maxner’s second time representing the country where he was born (Fukuoka, Japan) in 2004, as he also played for Team Japan in the World Under-18’s in 2021-22. With the Kings, he has posted 15 points in 22 Premier games (in 2022-23) and four points in 24 NCDC games this and last season. He is off to a hot start with Team Japan in the current tournament, posting a 3-1-4 line in his first two games.
Mitch Jongmans is in Orange with Team Netherlands, in the Division II Group A tournament in Dumfries, U.K. A two-year Premier player for the Kings, the ’04 from ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, has produced 21 points in 59 games. He has the distinction of representing Holland in three different tournaments, the World Under-18’s (in 2021-22), the World Juniors (2022 and this year), and the Men’s World Championships (2023).
Five players from the Pics organization is playing in the international tournaments, three from their USPHL junior teams. From their Premier team, you have both Jelle Noblesse and Horaytio Roelefsen suiting up for Team Netherlands in the Division II Group A event in the United Kingdom. Noblesse is a younger player in the Under-20 WJC, an ‘06 from Sittard-Geleen, Netherlands. He has eight points in 20 Premier games this year. In his first IIHF tournament, he had five points in five games with the World Under-18’s last year, helping to win the Gold Medal for the U18’s. Horaytio Roelefsen is an ‘05 who joined Noblesse on the Under-18 gold medalist Netherlands team last spring. He has played in 10 Premier games and five Elite games this season for the Pics.
Also from the Elite team, Daniel Mordas is playing for Team Lithuania against his teammate Roelefsen in Dumfries, U.K. Mordas is an ‘07 who has played in 13 games for the Elite Pics this year and is in his first go-round with Team Lithuania. Also joining Team Lithuania from the Pics organization are 16U players Algirdas Jaras and Jokübas Spruntulis.
Jaras, an ‘07 who was drafted by the NCDC P.A.L. Jr. Islanders last spring, is in his first year with Team Lithuania’s U20 team, though he was with their U18 team last year, helping Lithuania win the Division II Group A Gold Medal. In addition to his regular time with the Pics’ THF 16U team, he’s also played in three Premier and one Elite game this season. Goalie Jokübas Spruntulis is an ‘08 playing in the Under-20 Championships and will certainly be a prospect to watch, as the Pics 16U team has churned out a lot of high-level talent including in the NCDC.
Justin Wen, an ‘04 born in Beijing but with extensive North American experience, will represent Team China in the Division II Group A event in Dumfries, U.K. Coming out of a few years with Gilmour Academy, he was signed to the Cherokee this year, where he has five points in 11 games. This year marks his first IIHF event with Team China.
Utica Jr. Comets
From the NCDC Utica Jr. Comets, Fuji Suzuki is enjoying his fourth time representing Team Japan, this time in the Division I Group A tournament in Budapest, Hungary. The ‘05 has been one of the Jr. Comets’ leading lights, putting up 25 points in 21 games so far this year (and 29 points in 36 career games). He first began representing Team Japan in the 2022 World Under-18 Championships. The next year, he returned to playing for the Under-18’s and made his Under-20 debut. He medaled in both events, Bronze in the World Under-18’s and Gold in last year’s II-B championships, earning the promotion to Group A this year. He racked up seven points in 10 career Under-18 games and he has four goals in seven career Under-20 games as of the morning of Dec. 11.
Two of the Oilers – a set of twins no less – are representing Team Great Britain at the World Under-20 Division II Group A Championships in their home country, while another is with Team Hungary. The Osborn twins, Dawson and Austin, are in their second USPHL Premier season and first in Vernal, Utah. Dawson has 15 points in 17 games so far this year, and 20 points in 51 career contests. Austin has 14 points in 17 games this season and 24 points in 46 games at the Premier level. Both helped Team GB earn the World Under-18 Division II Group A Bronze Medal last year and are both in their first WJC event.
For Team Hungary, Levente Hegedüs will be trying to help his squad get to the top 10 tournament next year, as Hungary is hosting the Division I Group A tournament this week. He has played in eight Premier games with the Oilers and earned an NCDC call-up to the Utah Outliers. He is in his second World Under-20 Championships, and he has also played for Team Hungary at the World Under-18 Championships and in Under-16 and Under-17 events as well, as far back as 2019-20.
Teito Ishigaki, of the NCDC team, is with Team Japan in the Division I Group A championships. An ‘05 native of Tokyo, Ishigaki is in his second year in the USPHL and first as a regular in the NCDC. He twice played in the World Under-18’s for Team Japan, taking home a Bronze medal last spring. He is in his first World Under-20 championships. He put up 58 points in 41 Premier games last year and he stood with four points in 17 games.