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Colin White surprise participant at U.S. practice

Senators forward prospect is recovering from wrist surgery; Canada looking for more offense

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Colin White came to the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp to meet the coaching staff and potential teammates with the United States for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

What better way to get to know them than to skate with them?

White, an Ottawa Senators prospect, had surgery on his left wrist two months ago and was not expected on the ice during camp. But when the U.S. practiced at USA Hockey Arena on Thursday, White was there in a yellow no-contact jersey.

"I weaseled my way out there a little bit," White said. "I just started shooting this week again. … I came out here, told [U.S. assistant coach] Greg Brown, my coach at [Boston College], and he helped me a little bit getting out on the ice. Felt really good."

White said he's been skating for about four or five weeks, but only this week he was cleared for skating with a stick and handling pucks. He can make soft passes and take wrist shots but no full slap shots. He said he expects to be fully healthy for the start of BC's season.

"It feels good," he said. "A little sore, a little rusty. I haven't been handling the puck for a while. But it felt good to get back out there with the guys."

It's a relief after what White said was two years of pain in his wrist.

"I had been getting cortisone shots, but it was time to get [surgery] done," he said. "It was really bothering me. Now that I know it's going to be better all season, I'm really excited about it."

Despite the pain in his wrist last season, White was second in points (43) and third in goals (19) in 37 games as a freshman at BC, earning him a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie team. He also had three goals and seven points in seven games to help the U.S. win the bronze medal at the 2016 WJC.

A healthy White should have a spot on the 2017 WJC team, and his experience at the 2016 tournament will be a boon for the first-timers on the roster.

"You can't get too excited for the early games," he said. "It's game after game. Being last year in Finland, different food, you've got to really adjust, the time difference, everything. This year will be in Canada, so it'll be a little different, but it's going to be really fun.

"The team's not set yet, but if I get the chance, it'll be super fun. Canada has the best fans in the world, and it'll be really exciting."

U.S. expects new energy from new group -- U.S. coach Bob Motzko said he expects an energized team against Finland on Friday (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, TSN), in part because of some new additions to the lineup.

"We'll have a new group of guys that'll inject some energy because it's their turn," Motzko said Thursday. "They want to get in there and play. Keep that energy level going, have a new group step forward."

Ten players who sat out the 4-3 win against Sweden on Wednesday could play Friday: forwards Brock Boeser (Vancouver Canucks), Christian Fischer (Arizona Coyotes), Tanner Laczynski (Philadelphia Flyers) and Trent Frederic (Boston Bruins), defensemen Casey Fitzgerald (Buffalo Sabres), Nicholas Boka (Minnesota Wild), Jack Sadek (Wild) and Luke Martin (2017 draft eligible), and goaltenders Tyler Parsons (Calgary Flames) and Jake Oettinger (2017 draft eligible).

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Motzko said one trend he hopes continues is the unselfish play he's seen so far.

"These guys come really from their programs as all the top players," Motzko said. "And they have to blend in. They're used to getting all these certain minutes, and now we're sharing those minutes. They have to. … We're letting everyone have a moment in those minutes. So [the message is] not to get frustrated until you wait your turn to get through there."

Motzko had praised forwards Troy Terry, Erik Foley and Alexander DeBrincat on Wednesday for their persistence and performance against Sweden despite sitting out long stretches of play.

"Foley, for example, I think he got one shift in the second period, and there he went out still and had a goal and an assist and kept his focus and didn't get down," Motzko said. "There's the message: Stay focused, stay with what we're doing and step forward and show us your best."

Canada looking for more offense -- Canada coach Dominique Ducharme said finding extra offense from his lineup isn't a concern heading into its game Friday against Sweden (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, TSN).

In a 2-1 overtime loss on Wednesday, Canada outshot Finland 35-20 but went 0-for-5 on the power play.

"We had our scoring chances," he said Thursday. "We missed a breakaway, hit two posts, at least one open net at the end of the second period. It's part of the executing. It's not abnormal at this time of the year. Really the first game that we've played. Our guys are coming off training and skating, but not skating at that pace, not playing at that pace and that level. You have to execute faster."

One player who could supply some offense is forward Pierre-Luc Dubois, the third pick of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dubois had two shots on goal while playing left wing against Finland.

Dubois' 2015-16 season took off when he was shifted from left wing to center with Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the second half. Ducharme, who coaches Drummondville in the QMJHL, got an up-close look at Dubois' growth.

"I think he was improving all along through the year," Ducharme said. "He really built [in 2015-16], and from the start to finish he was really climbing and getting his game better and better. You could see his confidence growing. I can't tell if it's the move to the middle, but he definitely improved."

Dubois said earlier in the week that he played mostly center at Blue Jackets development camp but isn't concerned where he plays during the evaluation camp.

"In Columbus, they had me maybe center a little bit more," he said. "But to me, doesn't make a difference. I think I bring a different game when I play center vs. when I play wing. Just depends what the team's coaching staff thinks of me. Any position, right wing, left wing, I don't care. Center, not a big deal to me."

Gauthier remains questionable -- Julien Gauthier (Carolina Hurricanes) stayed off the ice Thursday because of an undisclosed injury and is questionable to play Friday and Saturday.

Hockey Canada head scout Ryan Jankowski said Gauthier is considered day-to-day.

As much as the Hockey Canada staff would like to see Gauthier skate with the other players in camp, they know what the 6-foot-4, 225-pound right wing brings. He also has WJC experience, with two assists in five games at the 2016 tournament.

"We would love him to play just to get more experience and get that opportunity," Jankowski said. "But it's not the end of the world. It's the summer. Whether it's Julien Gauthier or anyone else, it's making sure they're happy, so whatever situation they're going back to, they're ready to go. Just being around here and see how the group operates and getting to know the other players and the coaching staff, that's important too."

Good times in Michigan -- Though Canada lost its first game here at USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp, Jankowski said the experience in Plymouth has been a positive one.

"It's been excellent," he said. "It's a great opportunity for us to play against good competition. We've got a lot of players here, so we've had a lot of ice time. We've had practices, but the games are what it's worth. And the [junior evaluation camp] in Calgary last year was great, the camp, the games. But the Czechs weren't a very strong squad and the Russians were very good, so we had two really good games and two games that weren't great."

That's why Jankowski and Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada vice president of hockey operations and national teams, opted to split Canada's camp between MasterCard Centre in Toronto and USA Hockey Arena. After its game against Sweden on Friday, Canada plays the United States on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, TSN4).

"Here, we know we're going to have three good games because the competition and the countries that are here," Jankowski said. "It just makes sense for us to do it, and we're thankful that USA Hockey allows us to do it."

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