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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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Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 8:00 PM

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

Ducks prospect Karlsson stars in Sweden's win

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- A year ago, William Karlsson made Sweden's team for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship as a fourth-line player who wasn't expected to see a lot of ice time.

He had had a goal and an assist in six games, and by the time Sweden had won the gold medal, he was playing on the second line and was a key contributor to the team's championship.

Karlsson, a 2011 second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks, kept that strong play going through the second half of his season in Sweden, and it carried into Sweden's game against Finland on Tuesday at Herb Brooks Arena -- he had a hat trick in an 8-2 win.

Teammate Viktor Arvidsson scored a pair of goals, and Filip Forsberg had a goal and two assists. Pontus Aberg and Max Gortz also had a goal each, and goalie Oscar Dansk stopped 23 of 25 shots.

Robert Leino and Juuso Ikonen scored for Finland. Goalie Janne Juvonen allowed eight goals on 39 shots.

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Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 7:49 PM

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

'New journey' starts for Sweden

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg isn't ready to completely forget about the 2012 World Junior Championship, but he said the time to celebrate that gold medal is long past.

"It's a new journey," he told NHL.com. "We have started a new journey. This is a new team. We are chasing another gold. We have to take confidence from last year, but we also have to understand how much hard work was behind the gold."

That hard work has started, including an 8-2 win against Finland on Tuesday here at Herb Brooks Arena. William Karlsson, one of six players at this week's Junior Evaluation Camp who was a part of last year's gold-medal win, had a hat trick in the victory.

Ronnberg could have brought more players from last year's team, but said he's using the mix of returnees and new players as a test to see who still can perform at the high level set last year.

"We want to see how we play together as a team," he said. "We want to set the standard or norm for this team starting with the hard work and then with the way we should play our tactics. And then we want to see all the players individually, how they play, and see if we can find any new players for [2013] World Juniors."

Rather than impress on his players that last year's gold medal doesn't necessarily earn them a spot on the team that will go to Russia as defending champions, Ronnberg said he'd have no problem taking all of those players with him.

"I don't work that way," he said. "I want to work close to my player. I want them to play good. I'm working with another perspective, I want them to make the team, I want them to be a big part of the team. I want the guys coming back to have a huge impact on my team."

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

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Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 5:28 PM

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

Sweden holds 5-2 lead over Finland after second

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Finland started the second period with the same pressure it ended the first with, but after 40 minutes, Sweden holds a big lead.

Teuvo Teravainen made a great juggling play to keep a puck in the Sweden zone and found a cutting Juuso Ikonen for the 2013 NHL Draft-eligible forward's third goal in two games, making it 2-1 just 55 seconds into the second.

That was the lone highlight for the Finns, as Sweden went ahead with a pair of goals 59 seconds apart. First Viktor Arvidsson scored his second of the game from in close at 4:45, and then at 5:44, William Karlsson ripped a shot from the dot in the left faceoff circle to put Sweden ahead.

Max Gortz took advantage of a Finland turnover at 11:48 to make it 4-2, and then at 14:09, Pontus Aberg scored up high on Finland goalie Janne Juvonen to make it 5-2. Sweden has been trying to shoot high on Juvonen all game, as the netminder -- listed at 6-feet tall -- has been dropping into his butterfly far too early.

Back with more after the game.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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