Kreider, Bourque near World Jr. return
Gold-medalist Rangers prospects named to Team USA's preliminary roster
• Bourque Watch
Rangers prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque are one small step away from returning to the World Junior Championship tournament to defend the gold medal they won with Team USA last season.
On Tuesday, Kreider and Bourque were among the 29 players named to USA Hockey's preliminary roster for the 2011 World Junior Championship tournament at Buffalo, which begins later this month.
The Americans will follow that up with a game on Dec. 21 at Rochester, where they will meet the Czech Republic junior team and conclude pre-tournament play against Norway on Dec. 23 at Jamestown, N.Y.
The first three exhibition games will help determine the final roster for the World Juniors, which run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. Four of the 17 forwards named to the preliminary roster on Tuesday will have to be cut, and the final roster is exepcted to be announced on Dec. 22 before the final pre-tournament game.
Kreider has scored five goals and 11 points in 16 games with Boston College this season. Last year, as an 18-year-old, he led Team USA and ranked third overall with six goals at the World Juniors. He went on to win the Hockey East title and the NCAA championship with the Eagels, becoming the first player to win a World Junior gold, conference championship, and national championship in the same year.
Bourque also represented the Rangers at the 2010 Traverse City (Mich.) Prospects Tournament in early September. Kreider was ineligible for the tournament under NCAA rules.
The two Blueshirts prospects childhood friends, having grown up playing youth hockey together in their hometown of Boxford, Mass.
The World Junior Championship is the premiere international tournament for players under age 20. The Rangers have been well-represented over the years, including last year, when Bourque, Kreider, and current Rangers rookie Derek Stepan won gold for Team USA at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Other Rangers prospects on preliminary rosters for their respective countries are 2010 Rangers draft pick Jesper Fasth of Sweden and 2009 fifth-rounder Roman Horak of the Czech Republic, who played in last year's tournament.
Fasth plays for Jonkoping HV-71 of the Swedish Elite League, while Horak has scored 14 goals and 32 points in 26 games for the Chilliwack Bruins of the Western Hockey League.