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World Juniors

Seven from United States team that won 2017 WJC seek 2018 spot

Players hope to impress, set example at World Junior Summer Showcase

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

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- For United States coach Bob Motzko, the World Junior Summer Showcase is about educating and evaluating players for roster spots at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Motzko, who guided the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2017 WJC, will return as coach. He already has a core group he can use as examples of what he is looking for.

Seven players from that team -- goaltenders Jake Oettinger (Dallas Stars) and Joseph Woll (Toronto Maple Leafs), defensemen Adam Fox (Calgary Flames) and Ryan Lindgren (Boston Bruins), and forwards Joseph Anderson (New Jersey Devils), Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders) and Patrick Harper (Nashville Predators) -- are among those competing for a spot on the 2018 team.

"It would be our hope that this is a group of guys that has the same excitement, can't wait to get back after it, bring that enthusiasm back," Motzko said.

 

[RELATED: More World Junior Championship coverage | NHL Network World Junior Summer Showcase schedule]

 

The returnees are more than happy to serve as role models for how the United States will want to play.

"I want to be one of those guys the coach can turn to and say 'Look, he's doing the right thing,' " Harper said.

Anderson said part of that process is putting the team first and be willing to fill a role a player might not be accustomed to.

"Accept the role you're given to the best of your ability even if you're not thrilled you're in that role," he said. "I think being able to pick up on different roles and play with different guys … made us able to change lines here and there and see if things work out for the best."

Those roles could increase at the 2018 WJC. Anderson and Harper were bottom-six forwards a year ago, but have played top-six roles in the first two games for USA White.

Bellows, the leading goal scorer among the returnees with two in seven games at the 2017 WJC, said he would do whatever it takes to have a chance at another gold medal.

"If that means trying to score goals or making a play, no matter what it is, if the team wins, I'm happy," Bellows said.

Oettinger and Woll also will have a chance for more ice time. Woll played two games as the backup to Tyler Parsons (Calgary Flames); Oettinger was the third goaltender and didn't play.

"I'm a little more comfortable coming into this year since I know what to kind of expect from the camp and how intense it gets," Woll said. "Last year I was a little nervous being one of the younger guys and coming in with older players. The pace of hockey at camp is still similar [to the 2017 WJC], but I'm a lot more comfortable and feel I could be a leader out there."

Lindgren said his biggest takeaway from the 2017 WJC was how important it is to stay even-keeled on and off the ice.

"I think with that tournament, it's so short, a roller coaster of emotions," he said. "You're so happy after that Russia game we won in the semifinals, we were so excited, so happy, but then you have to forget about it, refocus on Canada and the gold-medal game. Different situations throughout that tournament can bring you down. You can get so happy too. You have to find that happy medium, can't get too high or too low, that's the biggest thing that I learned."

Those ups and downs ended with a championship, but the returning players don't have much interest in dwelling on the past.

"We acknowledged [2017] on the first day, talked about some of the things," Anderson said. "After the first meeting we put it behind us and said this is the time to focus on this year and making this team a gold medal champion. … It's not something we're talking about or focusing on. It's all about this year and this team and what we're going to do in the future."

 
World Juniors Summer Showcase Television Schedule on NHL Network

*available in USA only (Find out where to watch NHLN in your area); all times ET

Wednesday, 8/2 - Canada vs. Finland, 1 PM
Wednesday, 8/2 - USA vs. Sweden, 4 PM
Friday, 8/4 - Sweden vs. Canada, 1 PM
Friday, 8/4 - Finland vs. USA, 4 PM
Saturday, 8/5 - Sweden vs. Finland, 4 PM
Saturday, 8/5 - USA vs. Canada, 7 PM

 

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