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Bardreau would embrace grinding role for U.S.

by Mike G. Morreale

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Forward Cole Bardreau might be the only undrafted NHL free agent on the U.S. National Team Junior camp roster this week here at the New York Rangers' practice facility during selection camp, but his international success is just too good to be ignored.

The 5-foot-10, 181-pound center, a sophomore at Cornell University this season, played a part in the United States' gold medal-winning performance at the 2011 Under-18 World Championship in Germany and a first-place showing at the 2011 U-18 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic.

In 2010, he was on the U.S. National U-18 Team that was first at the Four Nations Cup in Sweden while also earning gold at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Ontario.

"I think the biggest thing for me at this camp is knowing the guys," Bardreau said. "I know half the team already, so it's good already going in. But the international experience helps. It's a completely different game than in college, which is more of a grinding style. On the international level, the skill level is way higher and speed is much faster so you have to do a little adjusting. I'm excited about it."

In 11 games with Cornell this season, Bardreau has one goal, five points and 12 penalty minutes. If he were to earn a roster spot among the 13 forwards taken to Ufa, Russia, for the 2013 World Junior Championship, Bardreau would expect to play a grind-it-out style.

"From day one, that's what [the USA Hockey managerial team has] told me," Bardreau told "At Cornell, I was starting to get into more of a skilled type of role, but when I come here, I'm a grinder. I just get out there and make plays as an energy guy. I need to make big hits and I'm fine with that because I love playing that role.

"I'll leave room for the other guys to score the big goals."

During the morning session of the second day at U.S. selection camp, coach Phil Housley had the feisty Bardreau on a line with Blake Pietila of Michigan Tech University and Ryan Hartman of the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers. All three players play a relatively similar role, which could create lineup nightmares for opposing international coaches if it remains intact for the WJC.

"Camp has been pretty intense so far … the guys are out there skating hard and getting after it," Bardreau said. "We just need to get acclimated to each other's style of play and get the nerves out. The farther we get into it, the better off we'll be."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale

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