It has not been a stellar first half for Trent Frederic by his lofty standards, but on the heels of what may have been his best weekend of the season, he received a coveted invitation.
Frederic, a University of Wisconsin men's hockey center, was one of 28 players named Tuesday to the preliminary U.S. roster for the World Junior Championship.
The final, 23-player American team will be named after a training camp in Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 15-19, and two pre-tournament games.
"It was my goal to make that team," Frederic said. "I missed out last year, so I've been looking forward to this for a while, and it's finally coming up here."
If Frederic is named to the team, he could miss the Badgers' first games back after the semester break, Jan. 5-6 at Penn State.
The World Juniors, for players under the age of 20, runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Buffalo, New York.
Frederic leads the Badgers with eight goals and is tied for the team lead with 16 points through 19 games. But after winning the Big Ten rookie of the year award last season, he has been frustrated by scoring outages as a sophomore.
Last week at Minnesota, however, Frederic scored in each game and had what UW coach Tony Granato said was his best series of the season.
"He was in attack mode," he said. "When he got the puck, he said, 'I'm getting it to the net somehow.' He made some great plays offensively on Friday; probably deserved more than the one goal.
"Saturday, he got the one that tipped in (off his shin pad) ... because he had worked so hard all series long. I think that's a compliment to him. When you get a break like that, it's because you paid a price and worked throughout the series to deserve it."
Frederic said his play has been trending upward of late.
"Maybe the numbers aren't the same as last year, but I think I've gotten better and I'm playing good," he said. "I'm excited, and I think I'll be rolling in, feeling good about my game right now."
Frederic, a former player for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, is following a path to the World Juniors that's similar to one traveled by fellow St. Louis-area native Luke Kunin.
Kunin, who played for UW in the last two seasons, didn't make the World Junior team as a freshman but did as a sophomore, earning a gold medal as team captain last season in Canada.
Frederic, 19, participated in the evaluation camp in the summer of 2016 but wasn't named to the team.
"I got to watch them win it all and had a bunch of friends on the team, so it was pretty cool," Frederic said. "I got to watch it; hopefully I can experience it this year."
If he makes the final roster, he would be the 54th Badgers player to compete in the World Juniors.
Stoughton native Cole Hults, a defenseman at Penn State, also made the preliminary roster.
Jim Johannson, who played for UW from 1982 to 1986, is Team USA's general manager. The team is being coached for a second straight season by St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko.