MUSKEGON, MI - Seven Lumberjacks have been selected to represent their country in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, a competition featuring the best 2002-born players in the world. The tournament runs from August 5-10 with this year’s host being the Czech Republic.
Muskegon forwards Danil Gushchin, Alex Gaffney, Jack Williams, Tanner Kelly, and Jan Lasak; defenseman Hank Kempf; and goaltender Nick Malik will all participate in the event. Gushchin will represent Russia in the competition, Gaffney, Kelly, Williams and Kempf will represent the United States, Lasak will represent Slovakia and Malik the Czech Republic.
“Seven players is a very good showing,” said head coach Mike Hamilton. “We’re very proud so many Lumberjacks were selected to represent their countries on one of the biggest stages. We look forward to watching how the tournament unfolds and getting all this talent to Muskegon very soon.”
Gaffney was tendered ahead of last season and played in 57 games for Muskegon. Alex netted 13 goals and nine assists in his rookie USHL season.
Gushchin was drafted with Muskegon’s second-round selection in the ‘18 Phase I draft and went on to have arguably the best USHL season among 2002-born players. Danil racked up 16 goals and 20 helpers in 51 games. Among 2002s, Gushchin led the USHL in both points and goals.
Williams, Kelly and Kempf were all called up from the Jacks’ affiliate list during the season, with each seeing increased playing time as the season wore on. The trio combined to appear in 23 regular-season games, tallying eight points. Williams led the way, scoring three goals and three assists in 11 contests.
Williams played in all eight playoff games as well, contributing two goals and an assist.
Lasak and Malik have yet to see the ice for Muskegon, but were drafted in this year’s USHL draft. Lasak was selected in the ninth round of the Phase II draft while the Jacks grabbed Malik in the 11th round.
All four of the American players are committed to play NCAA hockey. Gaffney will attend Harvard, Kelly Michigan State, Kempf Cornell and Williams Northeastern.