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Another go at the gold

USA's Trouba thrilled he's in world juniors again

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Just to be clear right from the get-go: Jacob Trouba is enrolled in the University of Michigan's School of Kinesiology and not geography.

So when he is asked for a scouting report for Ufa, Russia -- the site of this year's World Junior Hockey Championship and a spot the Winnipeg Jets' 2012 first-round draft pick will soon be visiting as a member of Team USA -- Trouba has to make a small confession:

His knowledge of Ufa is about the same as most of the rest of us -- which, and we apologize for the wide-ranging assumption here, is probably diddly and squat.

"I know probably just as much as you do," Trouba chuckled when reached Tuesday in Michigan. "I'll have to wait and see what it's like. All I know is I'm looking forward to it."

(A quick aside for the curious: Ufa is the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan in Russia, has a population of just over 1 million and is approximately 1,400 kilometres east of Moscow. Here endeth the lesson.)

Trouba, drafted ninth overall by the Jets last June, is one of 27 players invited to Team USA's world junior championship selection camp, beginning Dec. 16 in Tarrytown, N.Y. He'll be one of three returning members from last year's squad, along with goaltender John Gibson and forward J.T. Miller. Avenging

First and foremost for those wearing the red, white and blue will be this: avenging last year's showing, when the Americans were sent to the relegation round for the first time since 1999.

"It's definitely exciting," Trouba said.

"It's something I had hoped to be a part of again. But just knowing it's here now is exciting and seeing the guys I'm going to be with and that it's that time of year is pretty cool.

"I've been waiting awhile to make up for what happened last year."

Trouba made Team USA last year as a 17-year-old and now, just like fellow Jets draft pick Mark Scheifele with Canada, is hoping that experience will have him better prepared this time.

"Last year, I was fighting for a spot at camp and then just fighting to make the team," Trouba said. "This year, I know what to expect going in, and so because I'm better prepared for it, I hope I can help the team be better prepared for it."

The Jets love Trouba's upside, given his mix of physical play, his offence and a growing reputation as a player with a nasty streak.

And while Jet brass have seen him a lot this season at Michigan, the progress reports from outside the organization have also been nothing but positive.

"He's been excellent," said Team USA GM Jim Johannson in a conference call Tuesday.

"He's taken on a large role as a freshman (at Michigan). But if you didn't have a game program, you'd never think he was a freshman. He's physically mature, he's playing at a high level, he can generate offence for you, he can play tough against the top players and he can deliver big hits in games.

"He's a guy who, as his game continues to grow with continued repetition and experience, everything just keeps getting better and he just keeps getting more and more of a full package."

And then there's this from ex-Jet Phil Housley, Team USA's head coach:

"I thought he had a great tournament last year and he had a good camp at Lake Placid and continued to improve his game. We're going to need to lean on some guys that have leadership qualities when the time gets tough or we face adversity."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

TROUBA TO UFA

Five quick hits about Jacob Trouba, expected to play a prominent role for Team USA at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Russia:

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 5, 2012 D3

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