A couple of former MSU hockey players have earned the honor of pulling over the red, white and blue jerseys this spring.
Justin Abdelkader and Jeff Petry were both selected to represent Team USA in the upcoming 2014 IIHF World Championships located in Belarus.
Justin Abdelkader played for the Spartans for three years, scoring a total 44 goals and dealing out 51 assists in 124 career games. Abdelkader is best known for scoring the National Championship-clinching goal with 18.9 seconds left in the third period for the Spartans back in 2007 against Boston College. Abdelkader decided to forgo his senior season with MSU so he could play with the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL.
Abdelkader will be making his third appearance in international play as a member of Team USA. He helped lead Team USA to a bronze medal finish in the 2007 World Junior Championships as well as being a part of the World Championship tournament in 2012. In 15 international game appearances, he has one goal and five assists.
As for Jeff Petry, he was a defenseman for the Spartans from the 2007-08 season to the 2009-10 season. He had 67 points throughout his playing career at MSU. Petry currently plays for the Edmonton Oilers.
This marks the third career international appearance for the Oilers’ defenseman. Petry was a member of last year’s bronze medal winning team at the World Championships. He also had a strong showing at the 2012 World Championships recording five points in eight games that year.
Both Petry and Abdelkader have started to emerge as key components to their respective NHL teams in the last few years. Abdelkader is a strong defensive forward that plays very aggressive. He led the Red Wings in hits for the second straight season. He may not put up as many points as other forwards, but he will give it all nearly every shift.
Petry led the Oilers in both hits and blocked shots this season. Petry had the second most average ice time on his team this season. It shows that his coach trusts him to do well while he is on the ice throughout the game.
Superstars on the rosters of national teams during the World Championships are rare compared to the Olympics. Quite a few of the world’s best hockey players opt to not play in the World Championships because they would rather take a break after a long NHL season, while others that would have a strong chance to make the team are still participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This opens up the roster for non-superstars, but very strong players, such as Abdelkader and Petry.
Both Petry and Abdelkader may not light up the score sheet, but they will both be key factors if Team USA hopes to bring home a medal again this year.
Max Benoit is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports