Team USA Hockey recently announced its roster for the 2023 IIHF World Championship, and the Blackhawks were represented on it twice. Forward Anders Bjork and goaltender Drew Commesso will both represent their country as the men’s national team competes in Finland and Latvia from May 12-28.
It’s safe to say the World Championship has lost some of its luster in recent years. It doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, which shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise. Many fans expect NHL players to compete for their country, but those players already endure regular seasons that are brutal enough as it is. Players in the league are worn out after their seasons end, and many have to nurse injuries that they had played through during the season. Luckily, this opens the door for young players like Commesso, as well as roster pieces like Bjork, to gain recognition for Team USA.
After being drafted in 2014 by the Bruins, Anders Bjork played three seasons at Notre Dame before signing with Boston and playing for the team for two years. He was dealt to the Sabres at the 2021 trade deadline. He spent two years with the Sabres, then in the final year of his contract, he was sent down to the Rochester Americans, the Sabres’ AHL affiliate. At the trade deadline this year, he was brought to Chicago in exchange for future considerations. Through the rest of the season, the winger played in 13 games for the Blackhawks, logging 8 points total.
Bjork, who was announced on the official Team USA roster Thursday, will be making his second appearance representing the team on a global stage. He last played in the World Championships in 2017, where he skated in five games without any points. He’ll hope to have a bit larger of an effect this time around, as he’s one of the more experienced players on the roster.
Drew Commesso is on the opposite end of the experience spectrum, as he signed his entry-level contract with the Blackhawks this spring. The 20-year-old goaltender recently completed his third season with the Boston Terriers, where this season he posted a .913 save percentage while appearing in 34 games. He’s expected to be with the Rockford IceHogs next season.
Commesso was announced as part of the team at the beginning of the week, and it’s his second time participating in the World Championship, although he didn’t see any game action when he was selected in 2021. There’s a decent chance he gets buried behind the other two goalies on the roster again, as both Casey DeSmith and Cal Petersen have been producing at a reasonably high level for several years.
Despite the somewhat diminishing prestige of the IIHF World Championship, two Blackhawks being selected to compete for the team is still a big honor. Both players will undoubtedly represent their team and country well, all while hoping to prove themselves on a global stage.
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