Meet Michigan's New Fab Five Set for the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistDecember 21, 2021

Meet Michigan's New Fab Five Set for the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship

0 of 5

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    In the early '90s, five freshmen made history for the University of Michigan's men's basketball program.

    This year, a new Fab Five from Michigan's hockey program is set to make waves at the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

    The hockey Wolverines lead the Big Ten with a 7-3-2 record through 12 games and are sending five players to the World Juniors for the second time in the program's history. 

    In 2005Mike Brown, T.J. Hensick, Matt Hunwick, Al Montoya and Kevin Porter skated to a fourth-place finish with Team USA in Grand Forks, North Dakota. This year, the target for Michigan's players is gold, but not everyone will be able to win. Three Wolverines players will be skating for the United States, while two will be suiting up for Canada.

    We nearly had a Fab Seven: for the second straight year, forward Thomas Bordeleau is unable to participate due to COVID-19 issues, while defenseman Jacob Truscott was one of the final cuts from the U.S. roster.

Owen Power: Team Canada

1 of 5

    Drafted: 1st overall, 2021 (Buffalo Sabres)

    Tale of the Tape: 6'5", 214 lbs., defence, shoots left 


    • IIHF World Championship gold medal (2021)
    • USHL defenseman of the year (2020)


    Why He's Special

    With great size and maturity that goes beyond his years, Power showed he's ready for prime time when he won gold with Canada's senior men's team last April. At just 18, he quickly moved up the ranks from a spare part to playing top-line minutes as the Canadians recovered from a tough start to capture the tournament championship in Latvia.

    As a first overall pick in the NHL draft, Power defied convention by electing to stay in college for another season, looking for the full experience after a year of virtual classes and fan-free games and a chance to compete for a national championship. Michigan was forced to pull out of the 2021 Frozen Four Tournament because of some positive COVID-19 tests.

    Power did not receive permission to participate from the Wolverines' staff. Now 19, this will be his first and only appearance at this event.

    Expect to see Power anchor the Canadian blue line, playing big minutes in all situations.

Matty Beniers: Team USA

2 of 5

    Drafted: 2nd overall, 2021 (Seattle Kraken)

    Tale of the Tape: 6'1", 175 lbs., forward, shoots left


    • IIHF World Championship bronze medal (2021)
    • World Junior Championship gold medal (2021)
    • World U18 Championship bronze medal (2019)


    Why He's Special

    A native of the Boston area, Matty Beniers patterns his game after Bruins icon Patrice Bergeron—a cerebral two-way center who's just as good at preventing scoring chances as he is at creating them.

    As an 18-year-old, Beniers made a solid impression on USA's gold medal-winning team at last year's World Junior tournament, collecting three points in seven games. He then signed on as the youngest member of the U.S. men's team in Latvia, where he picked up two points, a bronze medal and a wealth of knowledge from veteran teammates like Brian Boyle and Justin Abdelkader.

    Beniers is one of six returnees from Team USA's championship 2021 World Junior roster.

Luke Hughes: Team USA

3 of 5

    Drafted: 4th overall, 2021 (New Jersey Devils)

    Tale of the Tape: 6'2", 186 lbs., defence, shoots left


    • World U17 Championship silver medal (2020)


    Why He's Special

    The youngest brother of current NHLers Quinn and Jack Hughes, Luke is already the tallest. Checking in at 6'2", the 18-year-old has made a smooth transition from the U.S. National Team Development Program to the NCAA. 

    Luke follows in Quinn's footsteps at Michigan and is destined to link up with Jack in the not-too-distant future. In July, he was drafted by the New Jersey Devils, the same team that made Jack the first overall pick in 2019 and recently signed the 20-year-old to an eight-year, $64 million contract extension.

    A foot injury prevented Luke from joining Team USA for the U18 Championship last April, but it hasn't hampered his strong skating this season. The World Junior tournament will be his first real opportunity to show his stuff on the big stage.

Kent Johnson: Team Canada

4 of 5

    Drafted: 5th overall, 2021 (Columbus Blue Jackets)

    Tale of the Tape: 6'1", 165 lbs., forward, shoots left


    • Big Ten All-Freshman Team (2021)
    • First-team All-BCHL (2020)
    • BCHL leading scorer (Brett Hull Trophy) (2020)


    Why He's Special

    Kent Johnson is part of that new breed of hockey player who can bring fans out of their seats with their skill and creativity. A sublime puck-handler and playmaker, he won't hesitate to try a lacrosse-style goal or some other audacious move.

    Johnson is also an excellent skater and shows good defensive responsibility.

    Like Hughes, Johnson will be taking part in his first major international tournament at the World Juniors, though he'll be suiting up on the Canadian side. He did not take part in Canada's selection camp earlier this month but has now joined his teammates as they prepare for the tournament in Banff, Alberta. He's expected to be ready to go when pre-tournament games begin on December 23.

Mackie Samoskevich: Team USA

5 of 5

    Drafted: 24th overall, 2021 (Florida Panthers)

    Tale of the Tape: 5'11", 190 lbs., forward, shoots right


    • USHL Clark Cup championship (2021)


    Why He's Special

    A Fab Five freshman along with Luke Hughes, Mackie Samoskevich is also part of a hockey family. The Connecticut native's twin sister, Maddy, is currently playing hockey as a sophomore at Quinnipiac, where she's following in the footsteps of older sister Melissa.

    An offensive-minded forward with good hands and great wheels, Mackie was part of a strong Chicago Steel team in the USHL. There, he won a league championship in 2021, as well as briefly crossing paths with Owen Power in the 2018-19 season before the two became teammates again at Michigan.

    Samoskevich has 11 points in his first 19 games with the Wolverines. At the World Juniors, he's projected to be a depth forward with Team USA.