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Halverson to serve as starter in preseason opener

by Mike G. Morreale

BOSTON -- Goaltender Brandon Halverson will open as starter in the first of three exhibition games for the United States National Junior Team on Friday against Boston University at Walter Brown Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET.


The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 at Bell Centre in Montreal and Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

U.S. coach Mark Osiecki acknowledged after a morning skate that Boston College sophomore Thatcher Demko would sit this game out. Halverson (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL), a second-round pick (No. 59) of the New York Rangers in the 2014 NHL Draft, will play the first half of the game and Plymouth Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) will play the second half.

The U.S. will have two more exhibition games against Germany on Dec. 21 and Sweden on Dec. 23 in Kingston, Ontario, before the start of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on Dec. 26.

Osiecki was asked if each goalie would be given an opportunity to earn a start.

"I think it could go that way but this is a true competition and a lot depends on how they play," Osiecki said. "We want to take a look at [Halverson and Nedeljkovic] and see how they compete. All three have done well in practice and I can't say all three will get a start but we'll take it game-by-game. They've earned that right and it'll be fun to watch them compete."

Osiecki and the U.S. managerial team will make one or more cuts following Friday's match against the Terriers, the No. 1 ranked team in college hockey's national poll.

Jack Eichel, who will play for the United States and wear the "C" against his Terrier mates, leads the nation with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists). He's looking forward to the battle.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of people here and it'll be weird playing my own team but it's just another game," Eichel said. "Coach [David] Quinn probably had something to say to the guys and he's probably protecting me [from some big hits]. But every time you put on the red, white and blue, you have the motivation to play well. It's going to be a good test for our team because Boston University has a good team with good players."

One of those players is Danny O'Regan, who is tied for the team lead in goals (10) and ranks third in points (22). O'Regan has spent all season as the wingman for Eichel.

Will O'Regan look to throw Eichel off his game by calling for the puck at certain points in the game?

"I mean I can see Danny doing that; that's something he'd do," Eichel said with a grin.

Mike Eruzione, who helped the United States to the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" in Lake Placid, N.Y., spoke to the entire team at Fenway Park on Thursday evening. Eichel said the speech was tremendous.

"He had amazing speech and everyone knows him for scoring that goal [against Russia] and how a lot of the team's journey was documented in the movie "Miracle" but the emphasis was always on team and who they were as a group," Eichel said. "He told us how much of a privilege it is to represent the United States and how it's so great that we are no longer underdogs entering these big events. He explains the intangibles that it takes to win a tournament like this."

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