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As cuts loom, evaluation process continues for USA

by Adam Kimelman /

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The third day of the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp was more education in how coach Don Lucia wants his players to play.

USA White was the only group to take the ice Monday in preparation for their game against Finland (4:15 p.m. ET) here at Herb Brooks Arena. USA Blue stayed off the ice while getting ready for their game against Sweden (1 p.m. ET).

The big lesson for the day was on the penalty kill. Both games Sunday turned on how the two USA squads handled the opposition power play. In USA White's 4-2 loss to Sweden, they allowed three goals on nine Swedish power plays.

"We're trying different guys on the penalty kill," Lucia told "We wanted it to be more instinctive to see what the guys could do. After [Sunday] we had some good clips to show them about the proper positioning on the penalty kill, not being tied up in front of the net, not allowing seam passes. We have to make sure the middle of the rink is covered."

Lucia also opted to switch up a few of his even-strength lines and defense pairings, and he'll do the same with USA Blue. He said it's all part of the evaluation process, which will come to a head Monday night. After the second game, Lucia and his staff, as well as USA Hockey management, will trim the roster from 43 players to around 30.

"It's just to put people with different personnel," he said. "We have to make a decision after today of releasing some players. We want to give players the best opportunity to showcase a little bit of what they're capable of doing. … I think it's important that we sat as a staff [Sunday] night and went through everybody, who we really want to hone in on [Monday] to make the final decision on who we're going to keep."

Lucia also said Collin Olson will start in goal for USA White, and Jon Gillies will replace him about halfway through the game. Olson played the second half of the game Sunday against Finland, making 14 saves on 17 shots. Gillies stopped 14 of 15 shots in his half of action against Sweden.


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