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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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."

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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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Posted On Thursday, 08.02.2012 / 5:16 PM

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

Lightning sign KHL defenseman Korobov

The Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday signed defenseman Dmitry Korobov to a two-year, two-way contract. Terms were not disclosed.

Korobov, 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, played in 82 games with Dynamo Minsk of the Kontinential Hockey League during three seasons, recording two goals and 20 points with 46 penalty minutes.

Korobov played in a career-high 39 games last season, scoring one goal and establishing career highs for assists (10) and points (11).

Korobov, 23, was not chosen in the NHL Draft.

The Tampa Bay Times reports restricted free agent goalie Jaroslav Janus will play in Europe this season. He has not yet signed with a team.

Janus, 22, was 23-8-2 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 34 games last season for Norfolk in the American Hockey League.

Assistant general manager Julien BriseBois told the newspaper the Lightning are still interested in working with Janus, a 2009 sixth-round pick.

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Posted On Thursday, 08.02.2012 / 9:21 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

Justin Williams gets his day in the sun

8:50 a.m.: Justin Williams arrived at his offseason home in Ventnor City, N.J., with the Stanley Cup in tow.

It's the second time Williams will spend a day with the Cup, and for this year's celebration, he's got some interesting plans.

The day is starting with some time with family and friends, followed by a pontoon boat ride on the bay.

There also will be a street hockey game with some friends, some time at City Hall, and a party and autograph session at Caesar's in Atlantic City.

Justin Williams' brother-in-law and his girlfriend of six years, Dana, were sipping champagne and orange juice out of the Cup when Pat dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring and proposed. (Photo: NHL.com)

10:10 a.m.: Every marriage proposal is a memorable one, but when you do it with the Stanley Cup as a backdrop, well, that's a tough one to beat.

On a boat ride with family and friends, Justin Williams' brother-in-law and his girlfriend of six years, Dana, were sipping champagne and orange juice out of the Cup when Pat dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring and proposed.

Dana, of course, said yes.

"This is for life," Williams said. "We're a part of the story they're going to tell forever. I'm happy to be a part of it and I'm happy Kelly and I were able to accommodate her brother."

Pat said the plan was months in the making.

"I was thinking the Cup is going to be there, and Justin said, 'OK,' " Pat said.

"I'm just glad she said yes," Williams said.

1:05 p.m.: Playing like a mix of Jacques Plante and Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams backstopped his team to an 8-4 win in a road hockey game on a community tennis court.

Playing without a mask -- shots were kept low, of course -- Williams did his best impersonation of his Conn Smythe-winning teammate.

Williams might not have a future in net, but he impressed his teammates.

"He's got some new bruises, they match his eyes," said longtime friend Nick Bayley. "He didn't wear a mask, so we're going back to the days you didn't have to wear a mask. He just did what he had to do, which was stop the ball."

The only other injury was to Craig Williams, Justin's father, who was cut on the head by an errant stick.

"My team really gave it their all, blocking a lot of shots," Justin said. "My dad got a stick up high, but he stayed after it. My competitive juices come from both my parents, but as you saw he's a competitor."

Like the saying goes, "Because it's the Cup."

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Posted On Tuesday, 07.31.2012 / 4:06 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

Favorite son Emerson brings Cup to Waterford

In the lengthy hockey history of Waterford, Ontario -- located about 80 miles south of Toronto -- roughly 12,000 kids have played hockey in the local minor hockey system. Only one of them has played in the NHL. Monday afternoon, that prodigal son returned to Waterford with a very special guest.

Following a 13-year NHL playing career that ended with the Los Angeles Kings, Waterford's Nelson Emerson served as an assistant coach for three seasons before being named the team's director of player development in 2009.

After Emerson received the Cup on Monday from Kings assistant coach John Stevens, who enjoyed his time with the trophy a few miles away in Simcoe, Ontario, the town of Waterford welcomed the Stanley Cup for the first time.

The Cup's afternoon started at the fire department, where Emerson boarded the town's historic antique fire truck for a ride to the local arena. It was there that about 1,200 locals lined up for a moment with the Cup.

The gathering included former member's of Emerson's 1983-84 midget hockey team, which won the International Silver Stick and Ontario Minor Hockey Association titles. At Emerson's request, that iconic Waterford team reunited around the Cup, where they posed for photos and relived old times.

"That's Nelson," team captain Chris Miles told Jacob Robinson of the Simcoe Reformer. "Nelson knows he came from grassroots and he never forgets."

After an hour at the arena, Emerson enjoyed a private party at his cottage nearby, but his hometown certainly enjoyed a day it won't forget anytime soon.

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Posted On Tuesday, 07.31.2012 / 4:04 PM

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

Sabres re-sign Kaleta to multiyear deal

Patrick Kaleta signed a multiyear contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. The Buffalo News reports the deal is for three years, $3.825 million.

Kaleta, who was a restricted free agent, had five goals and five assists in 63 games for the Sabres last season.

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound forward is known more for his ability to antagonize than to score. He had 116 penalty minutes last season, most on the Sabres, and led the team's forwards with 139 hits.

In 267 career games with the Sabres, Kaleta has 26 goals, 24 assists and 434 penalty minutes.

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