Of the 29 players left at the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp being held in Lake Placid through Saturday, one that has possibly left the biggest impression thus far is Ducks prospect Kyle Palmieri
The forward has been one of the U.S. team’s best players through two exhibition wins over Russia, scoring two goals and adding an assist. It’s been a rewarding return to action for Palmieri, who had previously not played competitive hockey since February.
|Ducks prospect Kyle Palmieri has scored two goals and added an assist in the U.S. team's first two exhbition games against Russia at the National Junior Evaluation Camp being held in Lake Placid. |
“There was a little bit of an adjustment period, but that built-up energy and being anxious to play again and just wanting to get back out on the ice really helped me out, got me hungry to play these few games,” said Palmieri, who was selected by the Ducks with the 26th overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Although it’s been six months since his 2008-09 season with the U.S. National Team Development Program came to an abrupt end over a rules violation, Palmieri is simply picking up where he left off. He was averaging nearly a point a game (30 points in 33 games) before being sent to the sidelines.
Playing Palmieri on both wings through the first two games, U.S. coach Dean Blain was somewhat surprised by the 18-year-old’s high conditioning level considering the layoff, but definitely not by the production.
U.S. coach Dean Blais could see the extra jump in Palmieri from the time camp opened last Friday. While the coach has been somewhat surprised by the high conditioning of the 18-year-old considering the layoff, he never doubted the skills of the Notre Dame-bound forward.
“Right away we saw he was in pretty good shape, ready to go,” Blais said. “It was the timing-type things, and the physical part of it we were worried about, nothing else. He's a sniper. We know he can put the puck in the net and when he gets chances, his eyes get as big as silver dollars.”
While it was tough only being able to watch several of his former teammates from the U.S. program win the gold medal at the World Under-18 Championship last April, Palmieri is back in the fold now and hopes his camp performance garners him another shot at the international stage.
He and 28 others (including defenseman Jake Gardiner, Anaheim’s 2008 first round pick) in Lake Placid have two more games against Russia (Friday and Saturday) to show Blais and other USA Hockey evaluators if they belong on the country’s squad for the 2010 World Junior Championship in Saskatchewan. Palmieri is happy to at least have that chance once again and is so far running with it.
"It's great to be back out there,” he said. “Putting on the USA jersey again is an honor. I feel right at home. That first game I had to do a little adjusting, going from shinny hockey to that was a little tough, but I think I settled in pretty well.”