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POSTED ON Friday, 02.11.2011 / 4:27 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

U.S. continues to roll at Five Nations

Blake Pietila's second-period shorthanded goal snapped a 1-1 tie and sparked the U.S. to a 3-1 victory against the host Czech Republic on Friday at the 2011 Five Nations Tournament.

The U.S. improved to 3-0, with its final game coming Sunday against Finland.

"This was a tough win against a hard-working Czech team," U.S. coach Ron Rolston told USA Hockey's website. "We found a way to win, and I'm extremely proud of our guys."

Pietila, who plays for the U.S. National Team Development Program, is No. 112 on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term ranking of North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft.

Travis Boyd passed to Pietila, who broke in alone, deked to his backhand and deposited the puck behind the Czech goalie Patrik Bartosak.

Reid Boucher and Nicolas Kerdiles also scored for the U.S., and goalie John Gibson, Central Scouting's top-rated netminder, picked up the win.

For more on Gibson's season, take a look at this profile Mike Morreale wrote on him earlier this season.

Rocco Grimaldi assisted on Boucher's goal, giving him a team-leading 8 points.

In three games at the tournament, the U.S. has outscored it's opponents 19-7.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.10.2011 / 1:35 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

U.S. 2-0 at Five Nations

The U.S. won its second straight game at the Five Nations Tournament early today, blasting Russia 10-4 in a game played in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.

Rocco Grimaldi, who had a hat trick in the Team USA's opening-game win yesterday, had 2 more goals plus an assist in the win. Grimaldi is No. 25 on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term ranking for the 2011 Entry Draft.

At just 5-foot-6 and 163 pounds, Grimaldi doesn't let anything get in his way, as staff writer Mike Morreale learned earlier this season when he talked to Grimaldi.

Cole Bardreau and Reid Boucher each had 2 goals and an assist, and Tyler Biggs, No. 5 on Central Scouting's list, had a goal.

Matt McNeely, No. 5 on Central Scouting's mid-term ranking of North American goaltenders, picked up the win in net.

"It is not often we beat a quality opponent like Russia 10-4," said Scott Monaghan, senior director of operations for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program. "Our challenge now is to come prepared to play the host country, the Czech Republic, on national television tomorrow."

The U.S. next faces the host Czech Republic on Friday.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 02.09.2011 / 1:33 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Ducks bolster defense with Beauchemin

Many general managers believe you never can have enough experienced defensemen, and you certainly can put Ducks GM Bob Murray in that group.

Murray today brought Francois Beauchemin back to Anaheim, a move that bolsters their defensive depth with a big, strong, experienced, puck-moving defensemen who can play big minutes.

Beauchemin has just 12 points in 54 games with the Leafs this season, but he had been used in more of a defensive-oriented role. He's a minus-4, but was second on the team with 23:45 of ice time per game, including 2:48 per game shorthanded.

Beauchemin's durability should take some of the ice-time pressure off the Ducks' top-four defenders, Lubomir Visnovsky, rookie Cam Fowler, Toni Lydman and Paul Mara, all of whom average more than 20 minutes per game.

And while Beauchemin's offensive numbers might be down, he does have a strong shot from the point, one that allowed him to score 8 goals in 61 games in 2005-06, and in his four previous seasons with the Ducks, he had 21 goals and 88 points in 234 games.

He also has a Stanley Cup ring to his credit, which he won while putting up 4 goals and 8 points in 20 playoff games en route to the 2007 championship.

To get Beauchemin, the Ducks had to surrender top defense prospect Jake Gardiner. The 17th pick of the 2008 Entry Draft, Gardiner has been fine-tuning his play at the University of Wisconsin. Now in his third season, he has 30 points in 30 games this season, and he also has a gold medal to his credit from the 2010 World Junior Championship.

Gardiner is renowned for his skating and speed. At 6-foot-1 and 173 pounds he needs to get bigger and stronger, but with top-end skating skills, he's a definite prospect.

In Joffrey Lupul, the Leafs receive a top-six forward who's just 27 and has scored at least 20 goals three times in five full NHL seasons.

However, Lupul has been plagued by back problems and a blood infection that limited him to just 23 games last season and kept him out of action until this past December. He has just 5 goals in 26 games -- and 1 goal in his last 14 -- but if healthy, the talent clearly is there.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.01.2011 / 12:25 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Don't miss these Draft profiles

With all the attention paid the last couple weeks to the 2011 All-Star Game, just want to make sure all the Entry Draft profiles we've been writing here don't get lost, because there's been some pretty neat stuff going up.

In case you missed Tomas Jurco's unbelievable puck wizardry at the Top Prospects Game skills competition, Jurco emptied his bag of tricks for NHL.com's cameras. Also, Mike Morreale caught up with Tomas and got him to explain how he developed his amazing skills.

Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers is on pace to score at a level no OHL defenseman has reached in 15 years. But he asks that you please don't label him an offensive defenseman. He's working to do much more with his game.

And let's not forget the masked men. In this case, U.S. National Team goaltender John Gibson, who is looking to follow in the footsteps of another USNTDP goalie, Jack Campbell. Gibson has the size and skill that made Campbell a desirable prospect.

There's a lot more at NHL.com's Entry Draft website, and we're always adding more, so click back often.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 11:44 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

The fight of the night

The only fight of the night came late in the second period, when Duncan Siemens and David Musil dropped the gloves. The all-WHL play started with Siemens and Sven Baertschi getting tangled along the wall in the Team Cherry end. Siemens threw Baertschi into the glass and then shoved him in the head when they fell to the ice. Siemens then shoved Ryan Nugent-Hopkins when he skated over, and that's when Musil jumped into the fray.

"We had talked after the game and he (Musil) said he saw me, Baertschi and Hopkins down there and he said uh-oh I better get down there," Siemens told NHL.com. "We both had been out on the ice for a while. I had been being a little bit of a pest all game, so when I saw him coming down, there's no turning back no matter how tired you are. I knew when he looked at me what he was thinking. And I had asked him earlier in the game."

This time Musil engaged, and while there weren't a ton of punches thrown, it was the talk of the post-game press conference.

"Great show of team play there," said Nugent-Hopkins. "Baertschi was getting cross-checked in the head and I stepped in to separate the two. Musil saw that happening and he just stepped in and fought Siemens."

Siemens' Saskatoon Blades and Musil's Vancouver Giants only play once a season, so there was no pre-existing bad blood between the two, and there was only mutual respect afterward.

"I have a lot of respect for David Musil," said Siemens. "He's a good competitor."

Team Cherry coach Don Cherry, who knows how to enjoy a fight, certainly enjoyed that scrap. And even managed to get a shot in of his own, at Musil's father, veteran NHL defenseman Frantisek Musil

"That was Musil's second fight, eh? Did better than his old man," Cherry said with a laugh.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 9:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Wild finish to Top Prospects Game

It's all over here at the Air Canada Centre, as Team Orr opens things up here in the third period for a 7-1 victory. The Saint John Sea Dogs were all over this one, as Jonathan Huberdeau and Zack Phillips had a goal and an assist each for Team Orr.

We'll have more from all the players and the coaches in a bit, so stay tuned.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 7:11 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

In goal tonight

Brandon Wheat Kings goalie Liam Liston will start in goal for Team Orr, with the Owen Sound Attack's Jordan Binning ton replacing him about halfway through the game.

The Victoriaville Tigres' David Honzik will start in net for Team Cherry, with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens' Christopher Gibson set to replace him halfway through.

We're about 10 minutes from puck drop here. Check back for in-game updates.

EDIT: The game sheet was wrong, as Christopher Gibson started for Team Cherry. Honzik will replace him midway through the second.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 1:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Clark, Gilmour meet the media

Team Orr coach Doug Gilmour and assistant Wendel Clark met with the media this afternoon following their practice. And while no one can reach the bombast level of Don Cherry, Gilmour and Clark were interesting in their own ways. Here are a few highlights from each man:

WENDEL CLARK

How much fun is it to be involved in this game? "I think it's great. You get to watch the kids, the raw talent before they get drafted, so you see the excitement, the energy and the raw talent and they get to play together with their peers throughout Canada."

Does this bring back memories from when you were in your draft year? "They never had this when I was going through. These guys get to see each other throughout the league and that's a lot of fun. They get to compare each other. It's an honor for them to be here for the three days. It's not really an All-Star game. They're trying to get drafted and get to the next level. The intensity is going to be a lot higher."

What's your message to the kids? "Do what got you here, don't change anything. Anything in sports, it's do what got you there, play hard, have fun. Take it all in. These are some of the fun things. Sometimes kids come and forget to take it all in and they remember 10 years later. Come here, work hard, take it all in and have fun with it. These are the stepping stones not all kids get to do."
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 12:27 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Team Orr lines and pairings

Doug Gilmour's Team Orr just finished their morning skates, and it was a little more brisk of a pace than Team Cherry's skate. Here are the line combinations that were used, from left to right:

Sven Baertschi-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Zack Phillips
Lucas Lessio-Shane McColgan-Daniel Catenacci
Boone Jenner-Vladimir Namestnikov-Jonathan Huberdeau
Brandon Saad-Colin Jacobs-Vincent Trocheck

Unlike Team Cherry, Team Orr looked more set in their defense pairings:

Dougie Hamilton-Stuart Percy
Reese Scarlett-David Musil
Nathan Beaulieu-Xavier Ouellet

And in goal were Jordan Binnington and Liam Liston. Each goalie will play half the game, but who starts and who finishes remains to be decided.

Gilmour and assistant coach Wendel Clark also spoke this morning, and I'll have those highlights in a bit.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 11:34 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Don Cherry speaks

Don Cherry never is shy about having an opinion, whether it's on the famed Coach's Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada, or this morning at the Air Canada Centre following Team Cherry's practice prior to tonight's Top Prospects Game.

Here are a few highlights from Cherry's meeting with the media:

Still have fun doing this? "We still have a lot of fun. When you see a goaltender like that Owen Sound guy (Jordan Binnington) stand on his head, it reminds me of (Roberto) Luongo (in 1997). I remember him with Bobby Orr, we were in Maple Leafs Gardens and we outshot them 17-1 and we were losing 1-0. To see these guys coming up, you think of 2003 in Kitchener and (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Dion) Phaneuf and Marc-Andre Fleury, to see them … it's still a lot of fun."

What's your message to the kids? "We told them you can never, ever drop (in the rankings). But you can … and I go back to Dan Cleary. Dan Cleary when he came, he was from Belleville, Newfounland, not many people knew him. He had a hell of a game and he jumped like you couldn't believe. The big thing is, everything's got to be quicker because everybody is good here. You see them against their peers and the whole deal. There are going to be 200 guys here watching you. If you're a banger, you have to bang -- you have to do your thing. If you just grab your wing and go back, it doesn’t do you any good. That's why you see sort of an open-ice game."
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Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1