Penn State men’s hockey defenseman Cole Hults became the first Nittany Lion to be named to the United States’ World Junior preliminary roster on Tuesday afternoon.
Freshman @Hultsy3 is 1-of-10 defenseman named to the @usahockey preliminary roster for the 2018 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. becoming the first-ever Nittany Lion to attend camp! #WeAre #HockeyValley
— Penn State Men’s Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) December 5, 2017
This is a huge honor for Hults, a freshman from Stoughton, WI, but it doesn’t mean he has made the final roster yet. The preliminary roster features ten defenseman; the final roster will only carry eight. Hults will attend camp alongside some of the best players in Division I hockey, including Big Ten rivals Josh Norris (Michigan) and Casey Mittelstadt (Minnesota).
Over the course of the next few weeks, Hults and the rest of the roster will be evaluated and cuts will be made. Hults will compete with fellow Big Ten defensemen Quinn Hughes (Michigan) and Ryan Lindgren (Minnesota).
The freshman has shined in his first season in Hockey Valley, scoring two goals and ten assists through 18 games of his rookie campaign. If he makes the final roster, the World Juniors will begin on Tuesday, December 26 with round-robin play. The United States and Canada will play a game at New Era Field, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, on December 29.
The World Junior Championships are the biggest amateur tournament in international hockey, so making the team would be a massive opportunity for the Penn State defenseman.
For now, Hults and the No. 18 Nittany Lions will play their final series before their month-long winter break this weekend against Robert Morris. Game one of the series begins at 7 p.m. Friday and will be played at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.