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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Connor Clifton impresses for U.S.

Sunday, 08.04.2013 / 9:37 PM

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / World Junior Evaluation Camp blog

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- While he didn't do anything that showed up on the score sheet, defenseman Connor Clifton, a 2013 fifth-round pick (No. 133) of the Phoenix Coyotes, certainly made his presence known for USA White in Sunday’s game against Sweden.

Clifton was a strong presence in the defensive zone, blocking shots, being physical and having a smart stick in the passing lanes.

"The big thing I noticed about Connor was his work ethic," USA White defenseman Patrick Sieloff told NHL.com. "He's a guy that's going to get in your face. He likes to make that hit if it's there. He's going to be an agitator. He keeps it simple but he's got that mean streak to him."

It's interesting Sieloff would say that about Clifton, because Clifton told NHL.com he's tried to model his game after Sieloff. Clifton saw a lot of Sieloff during their time with the United States National Team Development Program.

"He is a great role model," Clifton said. "His play, I think I play kind of like him. Both of us like to get in the game physical-wise."

Clifton will take his game to Quinnipiac University in the fall, where he hopes to continue using his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame to his advantage.

"My positional play is part of my game," Clifton said. "My defensive game and my physicality."

While it's only been one day, coach Don Lucia liked what he saw Sunday.

"He's got good feet, can get around the rink," he said. "He's got a pretty wide body [and] he's another one of those guys that can move the puck."

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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory