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Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 3:14 PM

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

U.S. players feel the history in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- It doesn't take long upon arriving in Lake Placid to see all the reminders of the 1980 Winter Olympics. That includes the Olympic Center and the ice sheet in what now is known as Herb Brooks Arena, which hosted the most memorable moment in North American sports history, the "Miracle on Ice" game.

"Everybody knows where you were in 1980," U.S. coach Phil Housley, who was 15 when the United States memorably beat Russia, told "I skipped school that day to watch that game."

The aura that hovers around that ice sheet is easy to feel for Housley as well as the players taking part in this week's USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp.

It's the first time since 2007 the camp has been held on the Olympic-size ice sheet in Herb Brooks Arena, because the tournament has been in North America the past five years. The players here this week all were born nearly 15 years after the Miracle happened, but they all know the stories.

"Every day your first steps out on the ice you think about it," defenseman Andy Welinski, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, told "It's something people are never going to forget. It's always in the back of your head when you step out on the rink."

Forward Steven Fogarty, a New York Rangers prospect, said he certainly appreciates his surroundings.

"When you see these signs about this is where it happened, it's really special," he told "To think that something so great in history happened in the same building we're skating in is so cool. … It's really special to be thinking I was skating on the same ice as those guys."

Goaltender Jon Gillies, who grew up about four hours southeast in Concord, N.H., played in a tournament in Lake Placid as a youngster, but still appreciates every chance he has to stand in the same crease legends Jim Craig and Vladislav Tretiak stood in.

"It's kind of surreal you get to experience this," he told "I played on this ice when I was younger and that's a memory I treasure."

Playing on a legendary surface certainly has provided an extra boost of motivation for most players.

Phoenix Coyotes prospect Connor Murphy said, "It still has that kind of feel that you go out there and you have that extra jump in your step because you know you're playing on that ice."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 2:53 PM

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

Goalies getting extra work at development camp

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- John Gibson has started the past two games in net for the United States with Garret Sparks serving as his backup. That's left Jon Gillies and Anthony Stolarz to spend extra time with goalie coach Joe Exter.

For Stolarz, the Philadelphia Flyers' 2012 second-round pick, that could be the best thing that's happened to him.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder had a 2.84 goals-against average and .920 save percentage with Corpus Christi of the North American Hockey League last season, numbers that become even more impressive when you consider Stolarz said working with Exter is the first time he's had a real goaltending coach.

"I never really had a goalie coach," Stolarz told "Throughout the week, coach Exter has been working with me. I've learned more this week than the entire year I was in Corpus. He's been a very big help to me."

Exter said the raw talent Stolarz possesses is obvious.

"Anthony is coming along and learning how to use all this strengths and turn that into being a solid goaltender," Exter told

Gillies, a 2012 third-round pick of the Calgary Flames, came to camp a more polished prospect after spending the past two seasons with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League.

"I think Jon is very well-grounded fundamentally as a goaltender," Exter said.

The pair has worked together in the past, and Gillies said this camp has about continuing to refine his technique.

Next is getting into a game, which could happen Saturday against Finland. Coach Phil Housley wouldn't comment on a starter, but with Saturday's game being the final one of the camp, the two goalies and forward Jimmy Vesey are the only players not to get into the past two games.

"We want to try to get everybody some work," Housley told "That's the main part about being here."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 2:45 PM

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

Vesey ready to show his skills

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- One day after his team's 10-2 rout of Sweden, U.S. coach Phil Housley had a small group of players on the ice for a short practice Friday.

With a lot of ice time during the National Junior Evaluation Camp, Housley said being able to keep most of the team off the ice, giving them a full day of freedom from workouts or video, was the best plan.

"We were trying to look through our schedule and since we didn't have a lot of practice time after the first three games when we had everybody out there, certainly the way they played [Thursday], they got rewarded with a day off," Housley told

The team will reconvene Saturday for the final day of the camp, capped by a game against Finland. Housley said he and his staff still are undecided on the look of the lineup, but said there are a few players he would like to see more of in game situations. Among them are forward Jimmy Vesey and goalies Anthony Stolarz and Jon Gillies. They're the only three players to not get into one of the past two single-squad games, against Sweden and Finland.

Vesey, a left wing taken by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft, will play against Finland. He had 48 goals and 91 points in 45 games for the South Shore Kings of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, but the Boston native knows playing in this week's camp is a major step up in competition.

"It's been a good experience playing against such high-end guys," he told "I'm coming out of a low level competing in the [EJHL]. Just to see how they [other players] prepare and how fast and strong they are out there, I think it's going to give me confidence going forward."

Housley said he's liked what he's seen from Vesey so far in practice, but is hoping there's even more when the game starts.

"I think he's got to carry his game to another level and we've talked about that," Housley said. "Certainly he's very gifted offensively. Hopefully he can bring that to the table [Saturday]. He'll get a nice opportunity to play against Finland."

Vesey said his goal entering camp was to make an impression on the USA Hockey management staff, and plans to continue doing that Saturday.

"I'm just trying to work as hard as I can in practice and show the coaches I can contribute once I get in the lineup," he said. "They expect me, if I'm going to be on the team, to contribute offense, so I'm just going to show that I have a good presence in the offensive zone and I can bury the puck."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 11:12 AM

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

Thursday loss 'teaching moment' for Sweden coach

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg said Thursday's 10-2 loss to the United States was a perfect teaching moment for his team.

After what Ronnberg viewed as a solid first period, the game turned when Vincent Trocheck scored 1:31 into the second to make it 3-1. Just 21 seconds later, Alex Galchenyuk scored to make it 4-1. The U.S. team scored six times in the second, and added two goals in the third.

"We have to look at it, we have to see what happened, [and] we have to deal with it," Ronnberg told after his team's morning skate Friday. "It happened, and on one hand we played against a really good team, but we were playing with this frustration for two periods, the second and third. We have to deal with that. We have to rely on our system even if they are leading 3-1. We have to still be consistent in our system and continue to play after our system. We didn't [Thursday], and it's a good example for us of what happens if we go away from the system. If we stick to the system, we would be harder to play against for the U.S."

Ronnberg said the loss Thursday was something his team earned. He said he hasn't been particularly happy with the way his team has played despite a 5-1 win against a U.S. split squad Monday and an 8-2 rout of Finland on Tuesday.

"It was the perfect teaching moment and something to learn from," Ronnberg said. "The worst thing as a coach is if you come away easy. Two games here, against U.S. and Finns, we have come away easy because we haven't played that good and still had easy wins on the scoreboard. I don't think the scoreboard has reflected our games. It's hard to convince the players the game isn't good enough when you win 9-2."

Ronnberg said what he's looking for from his team Friday against Finland is discipline.

"It's discipline to staying to the game plan," he said. "Discipline staying out of the [penalty] box. Those are two things that are real important."

Ronnberg said goaltender Oscar Dansk, who injured his right knee Tuesday against Finland, is questionable for Friday's game. He sat out Thursday, with top 2013 NHL Draft prospect Alexander Wennberg, a center by trade, dressing in Dansk's gear as the backup goalie.

"He has been in the net for fun a couple times and he thought it was a good thing for him," Ronnberg said. "We thought, 'Why not?'"

Despite the lopsided score, Ronnberg said he never thought about bringing Wennberg into the game.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 10:18 AM

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

Finland back on the ice

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- After a much-needed day of rest, Finland coach Harri Lindell had his team on the ice for a short spin Friday morning, ahead of an afternoon game against Sweden.

Finland had played three games over the previous three days, losing to a split-squad U.S. team Monday, to Sweden on Tuesday and to the full-squad U.S. team Wednesday.

"We really needed that [day off] because it was a tough start to the season," Lindell told "Now that we have relaxed, now it's important today to have the right mental toughness again because playing three games in a row, then having a day of rest, then all of a sudden you need to battle again -- battle really hard. That's why we had a half an hour on the ice this morning, and having some one-on-ones, two-on-twos, to make sure that we are ready."

In Tuesday's 8-2 loss to Sweden, Finland played well at the start and had a 2-1 lead in the first minute of the second period. Things fell apart from there, however.

Lindell said one of the places he's looking to improve is puck control, especially in the neutral zone. And getting a power-play goal wouldn't hurt, either -- Finland is 0-for-11 in three games, and didn't have a power-play chance against Sweden.

"We need to play better on the power play, but we haven't had that many power-play chances," Lindell said. "And we really need to improve the game in the [neutral] zone. We have lost too many pucks there. Our puck control hasn't been that good. We have to focus on that."

Lindell said Richard Ullberg will start in goal Thursday. He allowed five goals on 24 shots in Monday's 5-1 loss to USA Blue. Lindell said Ullberg likely will be his top goalie for the 2013 World Junior Championship, and wants to see how he performs against Sweden, last year's tournament champion.

"We are thinking about him for the World Junior Championship," Lindell said. "These are tough games. … He didn't play against Sweden before so we need to see him."

Lindell also said Miikka Salomaki, a Nashville Predators prospect, will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury. Salomaki skated Friday morning with the team, but Lindell said it wasn't worth risking further injury by playing him now. Lindell said there's a chance Salomaki could play Saturday against the United States.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Friday, 08.10.2012 / 9:54 AM

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

Senators: Zibanejad staying in North America

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Mika Zibanejad got a short taste of hockey and life in North America last season, after the Ottawa Senators picked him No. 6 at the 2011 NHL Draft.

This season, he'll be on this side of the Atlantic far longer.

Ottawa Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray told that Zibanejad will spend the 2012-13 season in North America, either in the NHL with the Senators or with the club's American Hockey League affiliate, the Binghamton Senators.

"He's staying no matter what," Murray said. "Whether its Ottawa or Binghamton, we're not sending him back. So he's here."

Zibanejad, currently here with Team Sweden for the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp, started last season in Ottawa, but was returned to his Swedish team, Djurgardens, in late October.

"We wanted to keep him, that was the intent," Murray said. "Just the longer it went, you could see with him the loss of confidence. The NHL is a tough league for anybody, especially an 18-year-old kid coming from Europe for the first time. I thought he played pretty well. He had some good games. I think it was the right thing to do to send him back. Hopefully that comes through in the next couple years."

Zibanejad, who scored the overtime goal in the championship game at the 2012 World Junior Championship, remains eligible for the 2013 tournament. Murray said there's a chance the Senators could let Zibanejad play in the tournament. It's a similar situation they faced last year with goalie Robin Lehner. The Senators opted to keep Lehner in Binghamton rather than release him for Team Sweden.

"For the World Juniors, obviously then that's not a decision we have to make today," Murray said. "He's obviously on their team. … We'll just have to do what we think is right for him. Is he playing 18 minutes a night in Ottawa? Is he playing 23 minutes a night in Binghamton? Who knows? Potentially he will be back playing in this tournament, but if I had to put odds on it I wouldn't even know where to place the odds."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 10:07 PM

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

Gostisbehere stole the show for Team USA

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Most of the attention Thursday was focused on U.S. defensemen Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba, but it was another blueliner who stole the show in Team USA's 10-2 rout of Sweden.

Shayne Gostisbehere, a 2012 third-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, scored a pair of power-play goals and had an assist. He also played solid defensively, which U.S. coach Phil Housley was quick to point out.

"His all-round game was good," Housley said. "His defense is getting better throughout the whole week. The stick is definitely good. He can skate it out of trouble. He moves the puck quite well. He's improving all week, and I think he played excellent tonight."

Gostisbehere, who had 22 points in 41 games to help Union College reach the Frozen Four last season, has had a memorable summer. Start with the NHL Draft in June, when even he was surprised to hear his name called with the 78th pick.

"I wasn't expecting third [round]," he told "I was expecting more fourth or fifth. It was a big surprise for me."

He also got his first experience at a professional development camp last month, and now he's still a big part of the evaluation process for USA Hockey.

"Make new friends and play well and play for your country," Gostisbehere said of his expectations for this week's National Junior Evaluation Camp. "I wasn't hoping (to just make the cut). I went through it, tried my hardest and thankfully it turned out well for me."

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, Gostisbehere isn't going to intimidate anyone in the defensive zone, but he has performed well in camp by outsmarting bigger, stronger forwards.

"It's using your stick first," he said. "Use your body as your last form of defense. Use your stick first and keep everyone in front of you and you won't have any problems."

He certainly didn't appear to have any problems against Sweden.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 7:46 PM

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

Lineup changes put charge in U.S. power play

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The biggest beneficiary of the lineup changes for the United States on Thursday might have been the team's power play.

Inserting defensemen Seth Jones, Jacob Trouba and Mike Reilly against Sweden paid immediate dividends when the extra-man unit scored Team USA's first two goals and went 4-for-5 in a 10-2 win.

Without those three Wednesday, the U.S. team went 0-for-3 with the extra man in a 5-2 win against Finland.

Shayne Gostisbehere, who partnered with Trouba on one unit, had a pair of power-play goals. Reilly, who was paired with Jones on a second unit, set up a pair of extra-man goals.

"With Reilly and Jones on the one unit and Trouba and Gostisbehere on the other unit, it brought a lot of offense from our defensive side of the puck," U.S. coach Phil Housley said. "They really created and were the quarterbacks. It made a big difference, especially early. We got two power-play goals early which really helps us get off to the right start."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 7:35 PM

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

Gibson's play big part of U.S. win

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- It's not often a goalie is one of the stars of a 10-2 game, but U.S. netminder John Gibson was a big part of Team USA's win over Sweden on Thursday.

Gibson, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, stopped 35 of 37 shots, including a number of outstanding saves. There was a strong glove stop with 2:20 left in the first period with the game tied 1-1, and a spectacular lunging glove save to deny William Karlsson on a shorthanded attempt midway through the second.

Gibson helped hold Sweden to 1-for-7 on the power play, with the only goal coming when it had a five-on-three advantage.

"It wouldn't have been 10-2 without John," U.S. defenseman Jacob Trouba told "He played great. He had some sweet saves and he was there to back us up whenever we made a mistake."

U.S. coach Phil Housley said, "In the second period when we really needed saves, he made a glove and a pad save that kept the game out of reach for Sweden and was a big-time difference-maker. His game has come a long way this week. It's great to see everybody improving, but John certainly provided us with solid goaltending."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Posted On Thursday, 08.09.2012 / 6:22 PM

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

USA defeats Sweden 10-2

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Mario Lucia, Jacob Trouba and Sean Kuraly scored in the third period as the United States finished its rout of Sweden 10-2 in a game at the National Junior Evaluation Camp.

Shayne Gostisbehere led the U.S. team with a pair of goals and an assist, and Jacob Trouba, J.T. Miller, Tyler Biggs and John Gaudreau each had a goal and an assist.

John Gibson had an excellent game in net, further solidifying his position as the team's No. 1 goalie for the 2013 World Junior Championship.

Mika Zibanejad and Joachim Nermark had the goals for Sweden. Niklas Lundstrom let in all 10 goals as his team had no backup. Oscar Dansk was out with a knee injury, and Alexander Wennberg, a center projected to go in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft, dressed as the emergency backup goaltender.

Back with more from the locker rooms.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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