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Colorado Avalanche draftee, DU defenseman and goalie with ties to Centennial State to compete in 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships

By SportsEngine staff, 08/08/22, 11:00AM MDT


Hub exclusive: Sean Behrens, selected by the Avs in the second round of the 2021 NHL draft, and Aspen's own Kaidan Mbereko were named to the to 2022 U.S. National Junior Team.

Sean Behrens and Kaiden Mbereko are keeping Colorado hockey in the spotlight.

Both were among the 25 players chosen by USA Hockey to fill out the 2022 U.S. National Junior Team just days before the squad is to face Germany in the opening round of the 2022 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. The event runs from Aug. 9 to Aug. 20 in Edmonton, Alberta.

The team was announced Aug. 7.

Behrens, a 5-10, 176-pound defenseman from Barrington, Illinois, was selected by the Avs in the second round of the the 2021 NHL draft (61st overall). He was an alternate captain for Team USA at the IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship in 2021 and helped the University of Denver win the 2022 NCAA title. He finished his first year with the Pioneers (2021-22) with 29 points (three goals, 26 assists). He also was a member of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program from 2019 to 2021.

Aspen's own Mbereko, a 5-11, 183-pound goalie, also played two years with the NDTP, where he finished 11-4-0-2 overall record with two shutouts, a 3.06 goals-against average and an .878 save percentage in 23 games in 2021. He also boasts an 18-13-3 overall record with an .898 save percentage from his first year with the USHL's Lincoln Stars. Mbereko played with Team USA in the IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship and committed to play college hockey at Colorado College.

The duo are part of a roster that includes 17 of the 25 players named to the team in December 2021 before the tournament was postponed. View the entire roster here.

“We had some spots to fill from December and we filled them in well. These are hard decisions, but we believe these are the 25 best players to achieve our goal," John Vanbiesbrouck, general manager of the 2022 U.S. National Junior Team and the assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, said in a release. 

The players aren't the only Centennial State connection on this year's squad. Colorado College head coach Kris Mayotte is an assistant coach for U.S. squad looking to extend its medal dominance in the event. Team USA medaled in five of the last six tournaments, including winning goal in 2021. 

Team USA's first preliminary round game against Germany is Aug. 9 at Rogers Place at 8 p.m. and can be seen on NHL Network.

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