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Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 4:45 PM

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

Finland-Sweden tied 1-1 after one period

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- After 20 minutes here at the Herb Brooks Arena, Finland and Sweden are tied 1-1.

Finland carried the play in the early part of the first period, but Sweden took advantage of back-to-back penalties on Finland's top defense pair of Olli Maatta and Rasmus Ristolainen to score the game's first goal.

Early in the two-man advantage, Mika Zibanejad skated the puck into the Finland end and dropped a pass for Viktor Arvidsson. He ripped a shot from the left circle that zipped past the glove of Finland goalie Janne Juvonen at 8:32.

Finland had a chance 39 seconds later when Artturi Lehkonen was awarded a penalty shot after being pulled down by William Karlsson, but Sweden goalie Oscar Dansk easily stopped Lehkonen's low shot with his right pad.

The Finns did even the score in the final minute of the first period as Robert Leino banged a loose puck in the slot past Dansk with 50 seconds left.

More to come after two periods.

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

Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 3:50 PM

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

Finland-Sweden lineups

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Here are the lineups Finland and Sweden will put on the ice for Tuesday's game at the Junior Evaluation Camp.

Worth watching is the top Finnish defense pair of team captain Olli Maatta, a Pittsburgh Penguins 2012 first-round pick, and Rasmus Ristolainen, a candidate to be picked in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

After this morning's practice, coach Harri Rindell wasn't sure if he was going to keep his two best defensemen on the same pair or break them up to spark other players.

Also worth keeping an eye on is Joel Armia, the Buffalo Sabres' 2011 first-round pick. Among those in attendance is Sabres owner Terry Pegula.

One change to the initial roster: Finland has scratched Nashville Predators prospect Miikka Salomaki and replaced him with Toni Kallela. Salomaki was listed as left wing on a line with Robert Leino and Joel Armia. No reason was given for the lineup change.

For Sweden, Mika Zibanejad will start at right wing on the second line, with Jeremy Boyce Rotevall on the left side and Joachim Nermark in the middle. Zibanejad, a 2011 first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, scored the overtime goal that gave Sweden the gold medal at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Oscar Dansk, a 2012 second-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, will get the start in net for Sweden.

Defenseman Oscar Klefbom, an Edmonton Oilers' 2011 first-round pick, will serve as team captain.

FINLAND

Toni Kallela - Robert Leino - Joel Armia

Miro Aaltonen - Teuvo Teravainen - Juuso Ikonen

Matti Lamberg - Saku Salminen - Markus Hannikainen

Artturi Lehkonen - Alexander Barkov - Nico Nyberg

Olli Maatta - Rasmus Ristolainen

Esa Lindell - Ville Pokka

Joonas Valkonen - Aleksi Salonen

Heikki Liedes

Janne Juvonen

Richard Ullberg

SWEDEN

Pontus Aberg - William Karlsson - Filip Forsberg

Jeremy Boyce Rotevall - Joachim Nermark - Mika Zibanejad

Emil Lundberg - Victor Rask - Viktor Arvidsson

Jakob Lilja - Alexander Wennberg - Max Gortz

Oskar Sundqvist

Hampus Lindholm - Oscar Klefbom

Rasmus Bengtsson - Jonatan Nielsen

Mikael Vikstrand - Tom Nilsson

Linus Arnesson

Oscar Dansk

Niklas Lundstrom

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

Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 2:24 PM

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

New year, new result for Biggs

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- A year ago at this time, Tyler Biggs already was on his way home from USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp.

A first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs just weeks earlier, Biggs admittedly was nervous when he arrived, and didn't think he showcased himself in the best way.

"I think last year I was pretty nervous," he told NHL.com. "The '92s [1992-born players] were a pretty special group of guys. Although they didn't do as well last year, you could see what they did at under-17s, under-18s the years before at NTDP. Going into that, I think I was a little bit nervous."

With a year of experience, Biggs said he felt better prepared for this year's camp and believes it showed in his play. He had one goal in three games but said his comfort level was far higher.

"A year under my belt, coming with the guys that I know already, I think I had a big compete level [and] it just carried over," he said.

Coach Phil Housley was impressed, especially with how the 6-foot-2, 205-pound right wing used his size to his advantage.

"We understand he's a big guy and big guys need a little bit more time," Housley told NHL.com. "He's working hard, he's competing, he's starting to win battles. He certainly has to raise his level of play. We need him to be on the puck first. That's what we're going to be watching the next couple days. … He got better every day. And that's a good sign."

Next for Biggs are training camp with the Maple Leafs in September and a season with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. Biggs had nine goals and eight assists last season at Miami University, but decided to move on after school ended.

"I think it was more my choice of moving on from the college experience," he said. "I think it was a great path for anyone and I would recommend it to anybody. But at that point in my career I think it was time to move on. … I got better at a lot of things from Miami University, so I was pretty fortunate to go there, [but] at this time in my career I thought it was time to move on and see how far I could go."

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

Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 1:56 PM

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

Housley happy with first small-group practice

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The first single-squad practice for Team USA here at the National Junior Evaluation Camp lasted about an hour Tuesday, and was filled with what coach Phil Housley called "teaching moments."

After trimming the initial 45-player roster to 34 early Tuesday morning, Housley and his staff had the players on the ice for about an hour and used the time to continue to install the systems and style of play he wants to see from the team that eventually will head to Russia for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"I thought it went really well," he told NHL.com. "We're just trying to hammer in some of our system play still. They played three games in three days, mentally they're tired. We had a meeting at 7 a.m. to make the cut-down to the number we have right now, so we didn't really want to do anything very, very physical. Just wanted to incorporate some team concepts."

It wasn't always perfect, as Housley at one point stopped the drills and screamed at the players for about 10 seconds. After that, the crispness and speed went up, which is what the coach wanted.

"We talked about that before practice, that we didn't want to be out there long, but we wanted to get something accomplished," he said. "I understand they played three games in three days and they're tired. But if we worked at the things we wanted to accomplish we were going to get off early. I needed a little more urgency. They were a little down. It wasn't very long what we did, a lot of teaching moments. I'm glad they responded the way they did."

Team USA has off the rest of Tuesday then returns to play Finland on Wednesday. Housley wouldn't comment on what his lineup for the game will look like, but it's possible John Gibson will get the start in goal. Gibson, one of three returning players from last year's U.S. WJC team, played one game at last year's tournament -- a 23-save effort in a 4-1 loss to Finland.

All four goalies survived the initial cut -- Gibson, Jon Gillies, Garret Sparks and Anthony Stolarz. And with four games coming, all four could get one full game. However, Housley wasn't ready to commit to that plan.

"I'll leave it up to [goalie coach] Joe Exter," Housley said. "We'll have a conversation about. Certainly Gibson is going to see some work, and Sparks, and we'll see what happens after that point. We have to give our guys some work and see where they're at."

Other players who made the cut were the two youngest players at the camp -- defenseman Seth Jones and forward Ryan Hartman, both of whom are expected to be first-round picks at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Jones -- who had a spot on the 2012 WJC team until a shoulder injury in the final exhibition game sidelined him -- especially has been impressive.

"I realized why he was going to be on the team last year," Housley said.

At this early stage, Housley said he wasn't ready to start pointing out individual players. He said the 34 who remain in Lake Placid all have made positive impressions.

"These guys left an impression on us, that's why they're here," he said. "They earned it. That's not to say the guys we let go ... we're going to continue to track those players, [but] I'm really focused on the guys that are here. They certainly left an impression on our coaching staff and evaluation staff, [and] we're rewarding them."

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

Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 10:30 AM

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

Finland looking for more power

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- With one game under its belt, the Finnish team here at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp is feeling pretty good about itself.

Finland rallied from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits late in the game before losing to the USA Blue squad 5-4 on a goal with 35 seconds left.

"The first game we played a good game, but we had a few bad plays there and we couldn't win the game," Finland captain and 2012 Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick Olli Maatta told NHL.com. "I thought we were a better team, but we didn't win the game."

One issue was a power play that went 0-for-7, failing to convert on a pair of two-man advantages. Coach Harri Rindell had his team spend extra time working on the power play at Tuesday's morning skate ahead of an afternoon game against Sweden.

"The power play, we got five-on-three two times and we didn't score," he told NHL.com. "Those international games, you need to score there."

Otherwise, Rindell said he's pleased with what he's seen from his team, especially in Monday's game.

"I was very happy when watching the attitude, the mental toughness, because we were back 3-1, we were back 4-3, and we came back and that's not the case very many times against North American teams," he said. "So the mental toughness the guys showed from the start of the game was very good."

No word on what the Finland lineup could look like, but one interesting defense pair could be Maatta and Rasmus Ristolainen, a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft. The pair was together Monday and could stay a unit against Sweden.

"We're going to see if it continues," Rindell said. "We don't know if that's the right decision, to have our two best defensemen together. Maybe during the tournament we're going to change just to see how they're working if they're not playing together. For now, they're our first [defense] pair."

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

Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 8:04 AM

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

USA Hockey makes first cuts

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp ended Tuesday morning for 11 prospects, among them two 2012 first-round draft picks.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Jordan Schmaltz and Phoenix Coyotes forward Henrik Samuelsson were among those released as the roster was cut from an initial group of 45 to 34.

"The first three days of camp have been impressive and we have been pleased with the players' level of competition," said Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations and the general manager of the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team. "The players being released today are still among those being evaluated for the team in the coming months. For the players retained, this week's upcoming international games in Lake Placid give us an opportunity to further assess their skills."

Also sent home were forwards Adam Reid (free agent), Alex Broadhurst (Blackhawks), Logan Nelson (Sabres) and Brian Hart (Lightning), and defensemen Brian Cooper (Ducks), Joakim Ryan (Sharks), Robbie Russo (Islanders), Connor Carrick (Capitals) and Mike Paliotta (Blackhawks).

The smaller group -- which now consists of four goalies, 11 defensemen and 19 forwards -- will practice Tuesday and play its first international game Wednesday, against Finland.

Here's a look at the trimmed-down roster:

GOALTENDERS-- John Gibson (Ducks), Jon Gillies (Flames), Garret Sparks (Maple Leafs), Anthony Stolarz (Flyers)
DEFENSEMEN-- Shayne Gostisbehere (Flyers), Matt Grzelcyk (Bruins), Garrett Haar (Capitals), Seth Jones (2013 Draft eligible), Jake McCabe (Sabres), Connor Murphy (Coyotes), Mike Reilly (Blue Jackets), Patrick Sieloff (Flames), Brady Skjei (Rangers), Jacob Trouba (Jets), Andrew Welinski (Ducks)
FORWARDS-- Cole Bardreau (free agent), Tyler Biggs (Maple Leafs), Colin Blackwell (Sharks), Reid Boucher (Devils), Travis Boyd (Capitals), Thomas Di Pauli (Capitals), Steve Fogarty (Rangers), Alex Galchenyuk (Canadiens), John Gaudreau (Flames), Ryan Hartman (2013 Draft eligible), Nicolas Kerdiles (Ducks), Sean Kuraly (Sharks), Mario Lucia (Wild), Stefan Matteau (Devils), J.T. Miller (Rangers), Stefan Noesen (Senators), Blake Pietila (Devils), Vince Trocheck (Panthers), Jimmy Vesey (Predators).

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

Posted On Monday, 08.06.2012 / 9:15 PM

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

Lucia stars, but mixed results for U.S. squads

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- For the first time since arriving in Lake Placid on Friday, the 45 campers invited by USA Hockey to this week's junior evaluation camp got to skate against competition from another country on Monday, as the USA Blue team faced Finland and USA White skated against Sweden.

In the opener, USA Blue's Mario Lucia, a 2011 second-round pick of the Minnesota Wild, capped a hat trick with the game-winning goal with 35 seconds left in a 5-4 win. Sean Kuraly had a goal and an assist, and Alex Galchenyuk, the third pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, had a goal for USA Blue. John Gibson played the first half of the game, allowing one goal on 11 shots. Jon Gillies replaced him in the second period and stopped six of nine shots.

Posted On Monday, 08.06.2012 / 7:46 PM

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

Camp under way

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp got into full swing Monday, with split squad exhibition games against Finland and Sweden.

We'll have reports on those games a bit later. For now, take a minute to familiarize yourself with some of the top junior talent that is using the week-long camp as the first auditions for shots at the 2013 World Junior Championship, which runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2013, in Ufa, Russia.

Among the 45 players U.S. coach Phil Housley is evaluating are just three players from last year's team that finished seventh in Alberta.

Sweden will have seven players from last year's team that won the gold medal, including Mika Zibanejad, who scored the championship-winning overtime goal against Russia. Finland's team is led by Alexander Barkov, a top candidate to be taken in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

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

Posted On Friday, 08.03.2012 / 11:45 AM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

Stanley Cup goes hunting with Bernie Nicholls

Over the years, the Stanley Cup has traveled thousands of miles, but it may never have visited a smaller town than West Guilford, Ontario, hometown of Los Angeles Kings coaching consultant Bernie Nicholls.

A player for nine seasons in Los Angeles, Nicholls grew up in the town of roughly 100 people on his family's hunting farm, where his father and brothers have been leading hunts for bears, deer and moose for more than 50 years.

So when Nicholls finally had his day with the Cup on Wednesday, it only seemed fair he take it hunting at the Nicholls family camp.

"My dad makes canoes and we have a great picture of me holding the Cup out in the lake in the canoe," Nicholls told NHL.com. "We do a lot of hunting. I had my bow and it [the Cup] stood in the tree stand beside me. My dad has been there since 1961. I remember walking through the bush when I was 5 years old following my dad. I've hunted my whole life. I always had a passion for that."

For residents of the small town, located about 10 miles from Halliburton, Ontario, where Nicholls played junior hockey, it was a remarkable finish to a memorable 12-month run for the former Kings great, who ranks in the top five in team history in goals, assists and points. After staying involved with the club through alumni events, Nicholls spent parts of last summer lobbying L.A. general manager Dean Lombardi for a position with the team. While nothing came of the discussions with Lombardi, Nicholls was honored Dec. 10 on Kings Legends Night. Ten days later, Darryl Sutter replaced Terry Murray as Kings coach and brought Nicholls aboard as a consultant.

"For the last couple of years I've tried to do things with [the Kings]. It just didn't work out," said Nicholls, who was coached by Sutter while playing with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1994-95 season. "When Darryl took over, I thought if I asked him for an opportunity that he would let me come."

For a player who scored more than 1,200 points with six teams in a 20-year career, the return to the Kings rekindled Nicholls' hopes of bringing the Cup to the family hunting camp.

"When I retired we thought the dream was over," he said. "Playing, you think about it all the time. This year when I went to L.A., with the run they had, it made a dream come true for a community. Not only me and my family."

That remarkable Kings run to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history helped to realize a dream for a small, tight-knit Ontario town. But Nicholls still slightly was dismayed to find that he wasn't the first person to take the Cup hunting. Apparently Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, another avid outdoorsman, did the same after his team won the Cup in 2009.

"I heard Dan had it in a tree stand too. He had it fishing and everything," Nicholls said. "I may send Dan a picture. He would appreciate it."

Posted On Thursday, 08.02.2012 / 9:14 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Sabres sign defenseman Biega

The Buffalo Sabres announced Thursday they have signed defenseman Alex Biega to a one-year, two-way contract.

Biega was Buffalo’s fifth-round pick (No. 147) in the 2006 NHL Draft. He played for the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League last season and recorded 23 points in 65 games.

Biega has appeared in 126 career AHL games over two seasons. Biega also played four seasons of college hockey at Harvard.

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