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2014 NHL Draft
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U.S. draft prospects take tournament title

Friday, 11.13.2009 / 3:36 PM / Prospects

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

"Yeah, I've been here awhile. If feels like home to me. I like to stay loyal to these guys. They've given me everything I've ever asked for. Why go away from a good thing?" -- Mark Carlson

It was a good month for American-born draft prospects in North America and abroad.

U.S. teams won the World Junior 'A' Challenge title as well as the Under-18 Four Nations Cup in recent tournaments.

It's the second straight World Junior 'A' title for the U.S. team. The team went 4-1, with their only loss coming in their opener, a 5-4 shootout against Canada East. The tournament -- this year held in Summerside, PEI -- was open to all players on teams outside the three Canadian Hockey Leagues -- the OHL, QMJHL and WHL.

The roster featured 21 of 22 players from the United States Hockey League, and 17 players are eligible for the 2010 Entry Draft.

In the title game, the U.S. team beat Canada West, 2-1. Matt Leitner, a draft-eligible center for the Fargo Force, scored the game-winning goal 50 seconds into the third period, and goaltender Eric Mihalik (Des Moines Buccaneers), who made 28 saves in the game, made the lead hold up.

Mihalik, a 6-foot, 180-pound native of Avon Lake, Ohio, who is also eligible for the 2010 draft, led all goalies in the tournament with a .940 save percentage and 1.50 goals-against average.

Shane Berschbach (Indiana Ice), who tied for the tournament lead with 5 goals and tied for third with 8 points, was named to the all-tournament team. Berschbach, headed to Miami University in the fall, also is draft-eligible.

"The team showed some great resiliency, not only tonight, but for the entire tournament," said coach Mark Carlson following the title game. "They continued to fight when trailing tonight and the coaching staff is extremely proud of their effort. It's a great feeling winning the championship for the second straight year."

The six-team tournament featured Canada West, Sweden and Russia in one group, and the U.S. Canada East and Belarus in another. The U.S. team went 4-1; their only loss was a 5-4 shootout defeat against Canada East.

At the Four Nations Cup, in Pori, Finland, the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 team won all three of its games, including a 3-2 defeat of Switzerland to clinch the title. In the previous two days, the U.S. team had beaten Sweden, 4-2, and Finland, 4-1.

"This was a good week for us," U.S. U-18 coach Kurt Kleinendorst said after beating Switzerland. "Playing three games in three nights is always tough. Switzerland battled hard the whole way tonight, but we did what we had to do to win. We're definitely happy to come out of this tournament on top."

Among the 2010 draft-eligible players, 5-foot-11 1/2, 191-pound right wing Bryan Rust had a pair of goals, and Jonathan Merrill, a 6-foot-3 1/4, 198-pound defenseman committed to the University of Michigan next season, had a goal and 2 assists.

In goal, Andy Iles, who started two of the three games, and Jack Campbell, combined to stop 56 of 61 shots.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.



Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals