Look back at the United States World Junior Championships over the last couple of decades and it reads like a list of hockey playing states. From Minnesota to Wisconsin to Michigan, this years teams has representatives from those states and a couple of different ones.
A bunch of years back the National Hockey League decided to put teams in Florida, Arizona, Carolina, and Atlanta at the time the leadership said it was make the sport grown and by the looks of this years United States WJC team it appears to have worked.
Eight members of the teams are from nontraditional hockey playing areas. Defenseman John Carlson, Colonia, NJ; Matt Donovan, Edmond, Okla; John Ramage, St. Louis, Mo; Tyler Johnson, Spokane, Wash; Philip McRae, Chesterfield, Mo; Kyle Palmieri, Montvale, NJ; Luke Walker, Portland, Ore; and Jason Zucker, Las Vegas (pictured above).
Sure there are reason why these players are coming from different areas. One reason is that they are sons are former NHLers, like Ramage and McRae, and their fathers played in the those cities and have decided to live their after their playing careers have ended. But with the other kids it looks like their love of the game continued to grow despite playing in an area that did not embrace the sport.
Did you ever think that you would see the day where the a kid from the bright lights of Vegas would be playing the WJC. I'm just waiting for the day when the half of the WJC team is from Sun Belt state, don't laugh, its coming.