Two NAHL players will make their way to the international stage over the holidays, as goaltenders Marco Weiser of the Alpena IceDiggers and Dainis Vasiljevs of the Kenai River Brown Bears were selected to represent their countries at the upcoming World Junior Championships.
Weiser will play for his native Austria; Vasiljevs for Latvia.
Widely considered the most prestigious Under-20 showcase in the world, the tournament will take place from Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan.
“I was extremely excited when I found out I made the team,” said Weiser. “Austria has only been to the World Juniors three times in the past 20 years, so it’s a great honor to be selected.”
“We’re really excited for Marco,” said Alpena head coach Jack Fritsche. “This is a tremendous opportunity to play on the biggest stage junior hockey has to offer.”
Weiser, who holds a 9-11 record to go along with a 2.78 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage in 20 appearances with the Ice Diggers this season, is excited to face off against the world’s best young stars.
“We get to play Russia and Sweden - two teams that were in the final four last year - so that should be great,” he said. “They’re two very talented teams with some great players.”
Wieser, who was named NAHL Goalie of the Week earlier this month after backstopping the IceDiggers to back-to-back shutout wins over Traverse City, has been impressed with the level of play in the NAHL.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I came here to play because it’s faster and more difficult. The ice is smaller here, so things happen faster out there and you have to be more prepared than on the big ice.
“I came here because I heard this was a great league and it would help me improve and move towards my goals as a player. It’s been a great so far.”
In six appearances with the Brown Bears, Vasiljevs has a 2-3-1 record to compliment a 2.89 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.
Defenseman John Ramage, a member of the St. Louis Bandits’ 2007-08 Robertson Cup championship team, will patrol the blue line for the U.S. World Junior squad. He’s currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin (WCHA).