Adam Clendening has represented Old Glory well in the past but his dream of playing for Team USA in his backyard in the mother of all amateur hockey tournaments is over.
The 18-year-old defenseman from Niagara Falls was among the final seven cuts made by U.S. Under-20 National Team coach Keith Allain on Wednesday morning.
Clendening, a freshman at Boston University, learned of his fate about 15 minutes before USA Hockey unveiled its 22-man roster for the IIHF World Championship on Facebook. Clendening, who helped the U.S. capture back-to-back gold medals at the Under-18 world championships the past two seasons, was understandably crushed when he talked to The News late Wednesday morning en route to his parents' home for Christmas.
"Yes, there's obviously disappointment. You hope to make the team," said Clendening, who didn't record any points in two tune-up games with the Americans this week after leading all defensemen in scoring at last year's IIHF Under-18 tournament with 10 points. "For me it's a tough time to elaborate on that right now."
Clendening will return to BU on Sunday, the day Team USA begins its title defense against Finland at 8 p.m. at HSBC Arena.
Besides Clendening, the other cuts included defensemen Philip Samuelsson (Boston College), the son of former Penguins blueliner and Stanley Cup champion Ulf, and Jamie Oleksiak (Northeastern); and forwards Connor Brickley (Vermont), who was selected in the second round last June by Florida and is the nephew of former Bruin Andy Brickley, Rocco Grimaldi (U.S. Under-18 team), Matt Nieto (Boston U.) and Brandon Saad (Saginaw, Ontario Hockey League).
The final U.S. roster includes: goalies Jack Campbell and Andy Iles; defensemen Brian Dumoulin, Justin Faulk, Derek Forbort, Nick Leddy, Jon Merrill, John Ramage and Patrick Wey; and forwards Nick Bjugstad, Ryan Bourque, Chris Brown, Mitch Callahan, Charlie Coyle, Jerry D'Amigo, Emerson Etem, Chris Kreider, Jeremy Morin, Brock Nelson, Kyle Palmieri, Drew Shore and Jason Zucker.
"There's a great combination of experience and talent on this roster," Team USA General Manager Jim Johannson said. "The fact that these decisions were so hard is a testament to where hockey has come in the United States."
Clendening's odds of making the final roster became slightly more difficult once the Chicago Blackhawks loaned defenseman Nick Leddy to the squad. Leddy has spent time with the Blackhawks and their minor-league team in Rockford.
In fact, Leddy was among the final cuts for Team USA last year. Leddy didn't pout as he honed his skills at the University of Minnesota to the point that the Blackhawks liked what they saw out of him last summer at their development camp and signed him to a deal.
"There's always more opportunities [to represent your country]," said Clendening, who has a goal, nine points and a plus-4 rating in 17 games at BU. "This is the younger year out of the two you get to make the team. I have another year. You use this as kind of a motivating tool and try to get better."