Former Colorado Thunderbird Marek Hejduk (No. 22) is headed to Michigan, where he'll spend the next two seasons with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program. Photo by Keiana Naiman
For the third consecutive year, Colorado will be represented on the roster of the U.S. National Under-17 Team.
Parker native Marek Hejduk is among 23 players born in 2004 selected to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP) beginning this fall and will participate with the U17 team for the 2020-21 season.
NTDP is for high-performance players who will spend two-years in the full-time residency, held at the NTDP facility in Plymouth, Michigan, where they receive on- and off-ice training designed to prepare them to represent the U.S. on national teams.
Hejduk, the son of 2003 Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy award winner and former Colorado Avalanche player Milan Hejduk, and Erie native Jeremiah Slavin were two of 49 players scheduled to participate in the selection camp at the USA Hockey Arena from March 18-22.
However, the tryouts were canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the team was selected by USA Hockey staff and other scouts.
Hejduk joins Team USA after a successful tenure with the Colorado Thunderbirds club program, where his twin brother, David, helped the Thunderbirds to the 2019 USA Hockey Youth Tier 14U National Championship tournament.
The 5-foot-9, 146-pound forward recorded four goals and six assists in 13 games for the U15 team and also had one assist while playing two games with the U16 team, according to EliteProspects.com.
NTDP teams play games against squads from the United States Hockey League, the North American Hockey League and Minnesota Elite League.
Hejduk will also have a chance to represent the U.S. as the Under-17 team participates in three international tournaments, beginning with the 2020 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in November.
Aspen native and goaltender Kaidan Mbereko was part of this season's Under-17 team while former Thunderbird forward Ty Smilanic, from Elizabeth, was a member of the team for the 2018-19 season.
Other NTDP alumni from Colorado include Littleton native J.D. Corbin, Parker native Jared Fiegl, Englewood native Geoff Paukovich, 2018 Olympian and Highlands Park native Troy Terry.
This year’s U17 squad includes players from 17 states, with a team-high eight from Minnesota. Seven players are from Michigan, while the rest of the roster hails from New Jersey, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
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