Penn State hockey’s Cole Hults released by U.S. National Junior Team

Penn State men’s hockey defenseman Cole Hults will not be playing with Team USA at the World Junior Championships this week.

The Nittany Lion freshman was released by the U.S. National Junior Team last week, and the final 23-man roster was announced Sunday. Hults practiced with the team at its camp in Columbus, Ohio, but did not skate in either of its pre-tournament games last week, a 14-0 victory over Belarus and a 3-1 win against Sweden.

The tournament opens Tuesday in Buffalo, with the U.S. facing Denmark at 8 p.m. at KeyBank Center.

The American roster includes seven current Big Ten players, among them Wisconsin forward Trent Frederic. The No. 15 Nittany Lions host the No. 13 Badgers when they return to action Jan. 5-6 at Pegula Ice Arena, and Frederic likely would miss that series. The World juniors runs through Jan. 5, when the bronze- and gold-medal games will be played.

Hults has played in all 20 games this season for the Nittany Lions (11-7-2), posting two goals and 12 assists. The Los Angeles Kings’ fifth-round draft pick’s 14 points ranks fifth among the nation’s freshman defensemen, and his dozen assists is tied for fifth among all Division I freshmen.

Penn State entered its winter break on a three-game win streak, and is unbeaten in its last eight.

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