By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — Mirco Mueller has been a top performer for the Everett Silvertips this season. The coaches in his native Switzerland took notice.
The rookie Everett defenseman will represent his country at the highest level of international junior hockey as he was selected Friday to represent Switzerland at the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships. The under-20 tournament takes place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia.
“It feels good,” Mueller said. “I’m very happy to be chosen for the team and I’m excited to play in Russia.”
Mueller was Everett’s first-round pick in this year’s Canadian Hockey League import draft (11th overall). The 17-year-old from Winterhur has two goals and 10 assists in 26 games with the Tips, and he’s assumed the role of Everett’s No. 1 defenseman since captain Ryan Murray suffered his shoulder injury.
Switzerland is in a group with Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Latvia.
“That’s fantastic for me and my development,” Mueller said. “I’m just very excited to play against the best nations in the world and the best players. It will be a very fantastic experience.
“We should have not a bad team,” Mueller added. “We’ve got some pretty good players playing here in North America, as well as some very good Swiss players playing pro. I think we have a chance for the quarterfinals, that would be our goal probably.”
Mueller already has five games of experience playing with Switzerland’s U-20 team. Nevertheless, it’s an honor for a 17-year-old to be selected for a tournament that’s primarily for 19-year-olds.
“There’s one thing we forget about him because he doesn’t play like a 17-year-old, but he’s a young kid,” Everett coach Mark Ferner said. “So great for him. We pretty much knew there was a good chance he would play there, and it’s a credit to Mirco.”
Mueller departs Dec. 10 for Switzerland’s pre-tournament preparations. That means he will miss Everett’s final three games of the first half, as well as at least three games at the start of the second half.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.