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DeAngelo determined not to let nerves get best of him

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo has made a career out of foiling oncoming forecheckers and disappointing determined shot blockers.

The only thing that sometimes gets in the way of the defenseman achieving his goals is nerves. After the second day of the USA Hockey evaluation camp for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on Wednesday, DeAngelo said anxiety cost him last year when he was cut from this camp in Minnesota.

The 19-year-old is more comfortable this time competing against nine other defensemen at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University for a spot on the 2015 team.

"I had to be [more comfortable]," said DeAngelo, who was drafted in the first round (No. 19) by the Tampa Bay Lightning last June. "Last year, kind of, I was a little too nervous and just trying to be too simple and not playing the game that they brought me in to play. So I changed it around a little bit this year."

A player doesn't put up 71 points in 51 games in the Ontario Hockey League the way DeAngelo did last season by being timid. But he wasn't surprised at being a bit overwhelmed at the USA Hockey camp.

"No, anytime I go into a new surrounding I get kind of shy and not totally myself," DeAngelo said. "So I got to change it around this year and it's been much better so far the past couple days."

DeAngelo said he's more familiar with the other players this year and that's helped put him at ease. When he's not slowed by worry, DeAngelo, who's 5-foot-11, 177 pounds, can be a dynamic offensive weapon the U.S. will have to strongly consider keeping on its final roster. He has 10 goals and 36 points in 28 games this season with the Sarnia Sting. He's a plus-1, as opposed to last season when he was minus-34.

Although offense will always be his main focus, DeAngelo has taken pains to tighten up his defensive game. It's also helped that the Sting are playing better as a group.

"I think it's a little bit of both. I think last year I can't just blame it on the team. It was probably my fault too," DeAngelo said. "[There were] mistakes that I made and we made as a team, but this year's been better, a better structure and better defensive play. So it's starting to show."

DeAngelo wasn't invited to the USA Hockey camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., over the summer. The powers that be, though, told him not to take that personally. Then they invited him to the Boston camp, which concludes with an exhibition game against Boston University on Friday.

The coaches and brass have a role in mind for DeAngelo, and he intends to fill it.

"Yeah, and I think there's no point in bringing somebody in if you don't want to use what they can do for you. So I think they know what they're doing," he said. "Obviously we've got a great group of guys selected to the team and all that kind of stuff. So you've just got to come in and do what they brought you in for. And if they have adjustments for you to make, you make them. And otherwise you just go out and play."

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