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U.S. Evaluation Camp coaches prepare to make cuts

by Adam Kimelman

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- With data from three days and four games, the hard part has come for United States coach Don Lucia and his staff -- which players to keep and which to send home.

The roster at this week's National Junior Evaluation Camp started at 44, but will be trimmed to 31 or 32 for the final four days of the camp.

One player, forward James Lodge, already has gone home due to an upper-body injury he sustained in the first practice on Saturday. Another 11 or 12 players will be joining him.

"[Tuesday] we'll get down to a more manageable number," Lucia said.

Lucia said that number likely will be six lines of forwards and 10 defensemen. The sticking point remains in goal, where Lucia said he and his staff are still debating whether to keep all four goaltenders or send one home.

"We have to decide if we're going to keep three or four," he said. "We have three games to work with, and we have to make sure we give the guys enough work. If we keep four, I'm not saying all four guys would play. We want to get the guys that we want to get the best look at their ice time, over the next three games. I'll talk to [goalie coach] David Lessond and we'll have to make a decision on how we'll do it."

In the two games Tuesday, USA White goalie Collin Olson started against Finland and stopped all 15 shots he saw in his half of the game. Jon Gillies relieved him and made 13 saves on 15 shots in the 5-2 win against Finland. In the early game, USA Blue's Thatcher Demko started and stopped 20 of 23 shots in a 4-2 loss to Sweden; Anthony Stolarz came on in relief and made seven saves on eight shots.

"We have some frontrunners right now based on track record, based on play," Lucia said. "Gillies had a great year last year with Providence [College] and was the backup [at the 2013 World Junior Championship] to [John] Gibson, was able to sit back and learn from that. He's somebody we're going to look to lean on."

As far as the rest of the team's makeup moving forward, Lucia said his forward group likely would consist of three scoring lines and three lines that are more defensively oriented.

"We'd like to look to maybe have three lines we're looking at more in scoring and three lines we can look at with penalty kill, and play two of the three each game," he said. "Mix and match."

Coming up with those six lines, 10 defensemen and at least three goalies, however, won't be easy -- which is what Lucia was hoping for.

"There were a lot of good things today," he said. "It forced us, after we met [Sunday] night, to re-evaluate some things about who we're going to keep right now. … They did [make it tough] -- some guys moved up and down the line based on how they played [Monday] and that's how it should be."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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