BOSTON -- Mark Osiecki realizes the importance of having players that are tough to play against in big situations at the World Junior Championship.
Osiecki, coach of the United States National Junior Team, not only is looking for players capable of providing an offensive push, but grinders who are willing to pay the price to get the top offensive players the puck. Osiecki has seen his share of hard-nosed competitors as a three-time assistant for the U.S. National Junior Team, including gold medal-winning performances at the World Junior Championship in 2010 and 2013.
One player that immediately comes to mind was two-time WJC participant Ryan Hartman, who won a gold medal with the team in Russia in 2013. Hartman, selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round (No. 30) of the 2013 NHL Draft, currently plays for the Blackhawks' American Hockey League affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, where Osiecki is an associate coach.
"It's nice to have the experience first and foremost, and a player like Ryan had gone through some of the battles and has seen the different experiences," Osiecki said. "But we have Tyler Motte and J.T. Compher, who play a similar style. I would even throw a Hudson Fasching into that mix; he's experienced. These types of kids are so easy to coach."
During the second day of selection camp at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University, Osiecki had Motte and 6-foot-4, 220-pound forward Alex Tuch with center Jack Eichel. Fasching was alongside center Dylan Larkin and Sonny Milano during a scrimmage Tuesday.
"You tell these players one thing and they pick it up so quickly," Osiecki said. "The good thing is that a lot of these guys know each other since they come from the [National Team Development Program] in Ann Arbor [Mich.] so they all have that Ryan Hartman mentality."
Osiecki was asked at what point he can begin to identify the chemistry within the group.
"You need to get into some competitive situations, and I mean game situations, and how they will feed off of each other," he said. "I'll use Jack Eichel and Alex Tuch as an example. Jack is from Boston University and Alex from Boston College, but now they are coming back on the same line and it has to be a situation where when you get on the ice and communicate with whomever you're going with, start there and move forward.
"Some kids have [chemistry] and some don't. We'll sit down as a coaching staff and discuss it."