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Posted On Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 8:43 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

USA goalies impress against Finland

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- John Gibson stopped 12 of 13 shots in just over 35 minutes of action Wednesday in Team USA's 5-2 win against Finland. While it's assumed the starting job for the United States at the 2013 World Junior Championship is Gibson's to lose, the Anaheim Ducks prospect isn't ready to put himself in any spot in the lineup just yet.

"Obviously I've had conversations with the coaching staff, but regardless of what's said I want to play my best and not really think about No. 1 or whatever," Gibson told NHL.com. "I just want to go out and play and earn my spot."

His best save came midway through the first period, when Finland's Robert Leino got loose on a shorthanded breakaway, but Gibson got his pads on Leino's shot.

Gibson was replaced by Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Garret Sparks with 4:49 left in the second period and he stopped nine of the 10 shots he faced. The only puck to get past Sparks was with two minutes left in the second when Miro Aaltonen beat him between his pads on a mini-break.

He recovered to make a nice save on Buffalo Sabres top prospect Joel Armia early in the third when the U.S. team led 3-2, then in the final minute he did the splits to stop a drive by Finland captain and Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick Olli Maatta on a five-on-three Finland advantage.

U.S. coach Phil Housley said he was happy with how both his netminders played.

"For the most part the goals that they got we sort of gave it to them," he said. "As far as our goaltenders, they're making stops at the right time. Both of them made key stops when they were in the net at times in the game where we needed a big save."

With the U.S. team playing again Wednesday, it's expected Jon Gillies and/or Anthony Stolarz will get the chance in goal. With two games left to evaluate the 34 players at camp, Housley has said he wants to get every player an opportunity in a game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 8:31 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Finland ready for some rest

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- After three games in three days, Finland coach Harri Lindell is looking forward to getting his team some rest.

"We need that, absolutely," he told NHL.com after his team's 5-2 loss to the United States on Wednesday. "We need it. Let's see if we can find something special for the team to get their thoughts away from hockey and just relax."

Finland lost 5-4 to a U.S. split squad Monday, then was routed 8-2 by Sweden on Tuesday.

Lindell said despite the loss Wednesday he was happy with how his team played.

"This game was a very tough game because it was the third game in three days," he said. "It was a great team we were playing against. … We were trying to be mentally prepared

for this game, [and] I think we got a response there."

One place the Finns didn't respond was on special teams. They went 0-for-4 with the man advantage, including a power play 20 seconds into the game and another that was called with 0.6 seconds left in the first period.

That performance came after they went 0-for-7 against the USA Blue team Monday and didn't have a power play against Sweden.

Compounding the problem Wednesday was a stretch of four minutes midway through the first that saw the Finns down a man for all but six seconds.

Lindell said he hopes the time off cures those issues as well as allows him to get forward Miikka Salomaki back in the lineup.

The Nashville Predators' 2011 second-round pick was expected to play a top-two-line role for the Finns, but was a late scratch from Tuesday's game and didn't play Wednesday due to what Lindell said was an upper-body injury. Lindell said it's not a serious injury, but he found no need to risk making it worse at this time of year. He said there's a chance Salomaki could play Friday against Sweden or Saturday against the United States.

"If it was a playoff game or a championship game, he could play," Lindell said. "We don't want to risk him because he's important player. There will be a good chance he can play one or two more games."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 6:09 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

U.S. defeats Finland, 5-2

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The United States wrapped its 5-2 win against Finland with a pair of goals 1:05 apart in the third period.

Nicolas Kerdiles scored from the right side off a Tyler Biggs rebound at 14:59 to push the U.S. lead to 4-2. Moments later, Stefan Noesen was stopped twice in front of the Finland net, but he scored on his third chance to close the scoring at 16:04.

Garret Sparks made the lead stand up, with his best saves coming when he stopped Joel Armia on the doorstep with 13:40 left, then in the final minute when he did the splits to stop an Olli Maatta blast with the Finns skating on a five-on-three advantage.

Things got chippy in the game's final seconds when Finland's Heikki Liedes was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for a hit from behind on U.S. defenseman Connor Murphy.

We'll have more in a bit from both locker rooms.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 5:25 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

U.S. leads Finland 3-2 after two periods

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Sean Kuraly, a San Jose Sharks 2011 fifth-round pick, scored his team-high fifth goal of the camp to put the U.S. ahead.

Kuraly led a rush with linemates Mario Lucia and Stefan Noesen. Lucia fired a shot on net that Finland goalie Richard Ullberg stopped, but Kuraly pounced on the rebound, spun to create space for himself and fired a shot past Ullberg at 6:28.

Calgary Flames prospect John Gaudreau put the U.S. up 3-1 when he scored off the rush at 16:14, but Finland answered at 18:00 when Miro Aaltonen scored his second of the game. He had a mini-break, deked goalie Garret Sparks to the ice and slipped the puck between his pads to make it 3-2.

Sparks, a Toronto Maple Leafs seventh-round pick in 2011, replaced John Gibson in goal with 4:49 left in the period. He'll likely play the remainder of the game as coach Phil Housley uses the final period as a chance to evaluate one of the three candidates who will serve as Gibson's backup in Russia.

More after the third period.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 4:43 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Team USA and Finland tied 1-1 after one period

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The U.S. opened the scoring but Finland answered with a late goal to send the teams off tied 1-1 after 20 minutes here at Herb Brooks Arena.

Stefan Matteau banged in a loose puck in the crease to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead at 15:00 of the period, but Miro Aaltonen snapped a shot past U.S. goalie John Gibson from the high slot at 18:16 to make it 1-1.

Each team had chances to take control earlier in the first. The U.S. went 0-for-3 on the power play, including a four-minute span midway through the period that saw the Americans up a man for all but six seconds.

Finland had a shorthanded chance with 6:35 left when Robert Leino got loose on a breakaway, but Gibson denied him with his right pad.

Finland had a power play just 20 seconds into the game but couldn't take advantage. The Finns will have another power play to start the second as J.T. Miller was whistled for slashing with 0.6 seconds left in the first.

More after the second period.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 3:36 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Barkov on top line for Finland vs. USA

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Finland will have a bit of a different look when it faces the United States here at Herb Brooks Arena on Wednesday.

Top 2013 NHL Draft prospect Alexander Barkov will center the top line, with Toni Kallela at left wing and Buffalo Sabres top prospect Joel Armia on the right side. Barkov is the youngest player on the Finnish team, but he already has experience playing in Finland's top league, SM-liiga, as well as with Finland's team at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Robert Leino, who centered the top line in Tuesday's 8-2 loss to Sweden, will be on the third line, skating with Artturi Lehkonen and Markus Hannikainen.

Richard Ullberg, who allowed five goals on 22 shots in Monday's split-squad game against USA Blue, will start in net.

Missing from the lineup for the second straight game is Nashville Predators prospect Miikka Salomaki. The 2011 second-round pick was a late scratch from Tuesday's game against Sweden.

You can check out the U.S. lineup here.

Here's how the rest of the Finland lineup will look as the team plays its third game in as many days:

Toni Kallela - Alexander Barkov - Joel Armia

Miro Aaltonen - Teuvo Teravainen - Juuso Ikonen

Artturi Lehkonen - Roberto Leino - Markus Hannikainen

Heikki Liedes - Nico Nyberg - Matti Lamberg


Olli Maatta
- Rasmus Ristolainen

Esa Lindell - Ville Pokka

Joonas Valkonen - Niklas Tikkinen

Mikko Lehtonen - Aleksi Salonen


Richard Ullberg

Janne Juvonen

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 12:34 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Housley ready for first look at trimmed-down team

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The U.S. will play its first game Wednesday since trimming the initial 45-player roster to 34, and coach Phil Housley said he's looking forward to seeing how the 22 players who suit up against Finland fare in game competition.

It's the first of three games the U.S. will play this week -- they'll play Sweden on Thursday and have a re-match with Finland to close the camp Saturday.

"We're just trying to get every look we can right now because we only have three games left," Housley told NHL.com. "We're going to try to use those three games to evaluate the guys."

Among the players he'll be watching are his goalies, John Gibson and Garret Sparks. Housley said Gibson will start, but he was unsure if he would play the whole game or split time with Sparks.

Gibson, who was the backup on last year's World Junior team, played just one game in Alberta -- coincidentally, it was against Finland. However, Housley said that had nothing to do with Gibson getting the start today.

"Last year was last year," he said. "This is a new, fresh year. We're going in to give him some work. Both our [1993-born] goalies are solid as well as our '94s. We're going to give those guys … everybody is going to be playing."

One of the top lines could be the trio of Sean Kuraly centering Mario Lucia and Stefan Noesen. That trio combined for four goals and three assists against Finland in a split-squad game Monday.

While their offensive output was nice, Housley said he liked what the trio did besides scoring.

"I thought they played terrific away from the puck," he told NHL.com. "A lot of their chances came off good defensive plays that had back pressure, or making the nice little play on the wall and following up the play. Especially the third goal, Lucia makes a nice play on the wall, gets up the ice, beats his man and gets an odd-numbered situation. Those types of things are great. Our play away from the puck is going to be stressed, it's going to be important."

Another interesting trio could be the line of Alex Galchenyuk with John Gaudreau and J.T. Miller. Galchenyuk and Gaudreau have flashy offensive skills, and Miller will have a chance to bring some power to that line.

"I think he [Galchenyuk] is getting more comfortable as the week goes on," Housley said. "Gaudreau, these are guys that have to think alike and hopefully J.T. can add to that line."

We had a look at the lineup earlier here. After playing games the last two days, including Tuesday's 8-2 loss to Sweden, Finland opted not to skate Wednesday morning, so their lineup won't be announced until later.

The puck drops at 4 p.m. ET.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 12:12 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Scoring, winning nothing new for Lucia

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Mario Lucia led the U.S. with a hat trick Monday in a split-squad game against Finland.

Being the top scorer on a winning team is nothing new for Lucia, a left wing taken by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Last season, Lucia led the British Columbia Hockey League with 42 goals (in just 56 games) as he helped his Penticton Vees team to a league-best 54-4-2 record. That included a remarkable 42-game win streak that started Nov. 11 and ended with the last game of the regular season. They then went 12-2-1 in the playoffs to win the league championship.

"I don't think I'll ever be part of anything like that ever again," Lucia, who was third in the league with 94 points, told NHL.com. "The season was unbelievable, everything from my billet family to the team to the coaching staff to our fans -- everything was perfect. We obviously had a lot of Canadians and Americans put together, so you'd think there'd be a little bit of a rivalry, but it was the closest team I've ever been on. That's what I think pushed us through that winning streak and into the playoffs. The closest teams always seem to do well."

Two of the players Lucia was closest with in Penticton are with him this week in Lake Placid -- defenseman Mike Reilly and center Steven Fogarty. Reilly, a 2011 fourth-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, led BCHL defensemen and was eighth in the league with 83 points; Fogarty, a 2011 third-round pick of the New York Rangers, was ninth in the league with 82 points.

"I've known them pretty much my whole life," Lucia said. "It's good to have buddies here you want to make the team. You push each other to get better every day, and we did that up there [Penticton]. That season helped us get a lot better. We worked hard every day. We had so many good players in practice and that's where I think we benefited the most. We had hard practices and we worked hard in the weight room and everything is falling into place now. Hopefully we all make the team."

Lucia has done a good job of that with his play on a line with center Sean Kuraly and right wing Stefan Noesen. That trio combined for four goals and three assists Monday against Finland, and will be together again today against Finland.

Lucia and Kuraly were linemates last season at the World Junior A Challenge in Langley, B.C., and the strong play they showed there has been evident in Lake Placid.

"We had some chemistry up there, we did well up there," Lucia said. "That chemistry has stuck. … He's gritty, he works hard. He's got a good shot and he's quick. He's battling, he gets the puck out of the corners, and he can make things happen with his big body."

Coach Phil Housley said he's been impressed by how the trio has performed so far.

"I thought they played terrific away from the puck," he told NHL.com. "A lot of their chances came off good defensive plays that had back pressure, or making the nice little play on the wall and following up the play. Especially the third goal -- Lucia makes a nice play on the wall, gets up the ice, beats his man and gets an odd-numbered situation. Those types of things are great."

After the camp ends, Lucia will prepare for his first season at Notre Dame. First he'll spend some time at home in Minnesota. He won't be able to attend the Wild's training camp, but he's certainly paid attention to the team's big offseason.

"Hopefully they'll have a good, prosperous season this year with [Zach] Parise and [Ryan] Suter coming in," he said. "Hopefully that'll be good for the fans, get the Minnesota Wild back on track. … Hopefully I'll be able to play for the Wild someday."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 9:31 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

U.S. team's projected lineup vs. Finland

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- With its first game Wednesday against Finland, the U.S. took the ice at 9 a.m. for a quick morning skate that featured only the 22 players skating in today's game.

Here are the line combinations and pairings U.S. coach Phil Housley put together:

Mario Lucia - Sean Kuraly - Stefan Noesen

J.T. Miller - Alex Galchenyuk - John Gaudreau

Tyler Biggs - Stefan Matteau - Steven Fogarty

Thomas Di Pauli - Cole Bardreau - Ryan Hartman

Nicolas Kerdiles


Jake McCabe
- Connor Murphy

Matthew Grzelcyk - Garrett Haar

Shayne Gostisbehere - Andy Welinski

Brady Skjei


John Gibson

Garret Sparks


That leaves 12 players sitting out: forwards Colin Blackwell, Reid Boucher, Travis Boyd, Blake Pietila, Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Vesey; defensemen Seth Jones, Mike Reilly, Patrick Sieloff and Jacob Trouba; and goaltenders Jon Gillies and Anthony Stolarz.

The Kuraly line could be one to watch. Against Finland on Monday, that trio combined for four goals and three assists, including a hat trick by Lucia.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 8:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Ducks lead camp with six prospects

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Twenty-six NHL teams have at least one prospect in attendance at this week's National Junior Evaluation Camp, but none has more than the six members of the Anaheim Ducks organization who started the week here.

Forward Nicolas Kerdiles, goalie John Gibson, and defensemen Andrew Welinski and Brian Cooper from the United States, and defenseman Hampus Lindholm and center William Karlsson from Sweden took part in the camp, and with the exception of Cooper -- cut from the U.S. team Tuesday -- will play in the remainder of the exhibition games.

"We've drafted kids that we like and we've had our fair share of picks in the top three rounds in the last two years," Ducks director of amateur scouting Martin Madden told NHL.com. "They've continued to develop and are doing well within their own countries' system. It's encouraging for us, for sure."

Lindholm, whom the Ducks took with the sixth pick of the 2012 NHL Draft to the surprise of some, had an assist in Sweden's 8-2 win against Finland on Tuesday. Madden said he's liked what he's seen from the 6-foot-3, 195-pound blueliner.

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Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season