In keeping with a long line of success for the Wisconsin men’s hockey program, three former Badger skaters were selected to the 2014 U.S. National Hockey team Tuesday.
Jake McCabe, Jake Gardiner and Craig Smith were three of the first 15 players chosen to wear the Red, White and Blue this year. They will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus.
McCabe, the most recent Badger to make it to the NHL ranks, conceded his final season of eligibility and joined the Buffalo Sabres in April after earning first-team All-Big Ten honors as the assistant captain with Wisconsin in the 2013-2014 season. This past season as a junior McCabe was fifth on the team in scoring, picking up 25 points with eight goals and 17 assists to his credit. After competing in his final game in Cardinal and White, which was a 5-2 loss to North Dakota March 25, he chose to forgo his last year in pursuit of NHL dreams and inked a three-year entry level deal with the Sabres. He played in seven games for the Sabres and picked up an assist.
Gardiner’s last season with Wisconsin was the 2010-2011 campaign. He has since played three seasons as a defenseman in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs where he has 65 points on 17 goals and 48 assists.
Smith is making his fourth appearance with national team. In 2013, he was a key member of the U.S. National team that took a bronze medal in the World Championships, posting 14 points in 10 games.
In the NHL, Smith has played three seasons with the Nashville Predators and led the team with 24 goals this season. Smith, similarly to McCabe, left Wisconsin early to pursue a career in the NHL and left the Badgers after only two seasons, but in just two years he tallied 76 points.
2014 will mark the 47th consecutive year that at least one former Badger will compete in the World Championships.