Skip to main content

U.S. defeats Boston University in WJC tuneup

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

BOSTON -- Defenseman Noah Hanifin and center Jack Eichel, two top 2015 NHL-Draft eligible players, scored shorthanded goals in the first period to help lead the United States National Junior Team to a 5-2 victory against Boston University in an exhibition game at Walter Brown Arena.

Chase De Leo, a 2014 fourth-round pick (No. 99) of the Winnipeg Jets, and JT Compher (Buffalo Sabres) also scored for the United States, and Anthony DeAngelo (Tampa Bay Lightning) hit into an empty net to conclude the four-day selection camp on the campus of Boston University.

The United States will continue camp in Kingston, Ontario, on Sunday at Rogers K Rock Centre. Prior to traveling to Canada on Saturday, general manager Jim Johannson will reveal which players will be cut from the 30-man roster.

The final 23-man roster will likely be announced Dec. 24. The U.S. begins preliminary-round action in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship against Finland at Bell Centre in Montreal on Dec. 26.

The United States outshot Boston University 41-20.

De Leo's goal 2:04 into the second, off a rebound in the slot, gave the United States a 3-0 lead. Brandon Hickey and Danny O'Regan scored for Boston University (11-3-2), the No. 1 college team in the nation. Compher tipped in a shot off a pass from Jeremy Bracco (2015 draft eligible) 9:21 into the third to give the Americans a 4-1 lead.

Hanifin and Eichel gave the United States a 2-0 lead in the first when they scored shorthanded goals in a span of 24 seconds midway through the first with Ryan Collins (Columbus Blue Jackets) in the box for interference. De Leo broke into the BU zone 2-on-1 with Hanifin before sliding a pass to him in the slot for the easy tip-in. Hanifin is projected to be the first defenseman off the board in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Eichel, a freshman at Boston University, then scored against his college team seconds later when he took a pass from defenseman Will Butcher and skated low into the right circle before snapping home a shot that beat Matt O'Connor high on the short side. At the end of the game, Eichel joined his BU teammates at center ice to salute the student body as he normally would do during the college season.

The United States will face Germany in the next exhibition match at K Rock Centre on Dec. 21.

Here are the top five takes from the four-day U.S. National Junior Team selection camp from Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University this week.

1. Top-line symmetry: U.S. National Junior Team coach Mark Osiecki seems to have a pretty formidable offensive trio he can rely on with Eichel centering left wing Alex Tuch (Minnesota Wild) and right wing Tyler Motte (Chicago Blackhawks). The line seemed to work some magic despite the fact Eichel plays for Boston University, Tuch for Boston College and Motte for the University of Michigan. The trio seemed to develop instant chemistry at development camp in August and it carried over into selection camp. All three players exhibited speed and tenacity against the Terriers; Eichel could have had more goals but was denied on a few occasions. Tuch rang the goal post in the second. "It's nice to have [Tuch] on your line because he likes to hit and intercept those passes," Eichel said. "Tyler is another guy tough who is very tough to contain with his speed and work ethic."

Said Tuch: "My role on this line is two-fold, play physical and score. In the offensive zone I need to be the big guy down low and on the forecheck."

Said Motte: "I'm trying to create space for them; push the pace and let them guys work with their skill and size."

2. Matthews makes an impact: Second-line center Auston Matthews, the youngest player invited to selection camp and who has been praised by Osiecki for his sheer determination to possess the puck in any situation, had a very good camp. The 17-year-old native of Scottsdale, Ariz., who isn't eligible until the 2016 NHL Draft, had been centering Nick Schmaltz (Chicago Blackhawks) and John Hayden (Blackhawks) during practices but was a healthy scratch against the Terriers on Friday. "I would say his hockey sense if off the charts," Osiecki said of Matthews. "I think he has the ability to adapt and understand what is being asked of him by the coaches and he applies it so quick. As a coach, that's all you can ask for in a young player."

3. Revolving goalies: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds goaltender Brandon Halverson started the game and finished with six saves on six shots. Halverson (New York Rangers), who might be the best puckhandling goalie of the three invited to camp, made his best save 54 seconds into the second period when he turned away center Cason Hohmann at the right post. Plymouth Whalers' Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) took over with 10:17 remaining in the second and finished with 12 saves on 14 shots. Overall, it was a pretty solid showing by both goalies. All three, including Boston College sophomore Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks), who was a healthy scratch Friday, will travel with the team to Kingston, Ontario, for further evaluation prior to USA Hockey's announcement of the final WJC roster on Dec. 24.

4. Getting defensive: USA Hockey's managerial group will have a difficult time paring the defense roster from 10 to seven players; consider the fact seven have already been drafted by NHL teams and three are considered potential first-round picks in 2015. Against Boston University, Osiecki listed Ian McCoshen (Florida Panthers) and Zach Werenski (2015 draft eligible) as healthy scratches. Hanifin and Will Butcher (Colorado Avalanche) each had solid outings along the blue line. Hanifin finished with a team-leading six shots on goal against the Terriers.

5. Surprise, surprise: The third line of center Chase De Leo (Winnipeg Jets) with left wing Sonny Milano (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Anthony Louis (Chicago Blackhawks) proved to be fast and energetic each shift. They were buzzing around the net or creating havoc for the BU defense several times. De Leo, who leads the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League with 42 points in 34 games this season, scored a nice goal off a rebound from the slot in the second and assisted on Hanifin's shorthanded goal to open the scoring 9:37 into the first.

View More