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U.S. forward Tkachuk conjures memories of dad

by Mike G. Morreale

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Left wing Matthew Tkachuk is a regular chip off the old block.

Tkachuk, son of former NHL player Keith Tkachuk and a potential top-five pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, had three goals and two assists for the United States white team in a 10-4 exhibition win against Sweden on Monday during USA Hockey's national junior evaluation camp at Lake Placid Olympic Center's 1980 Herb Brooks Arena.

The camp will help determine the roster for the United States at the 2016 World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, to be played from Dec. 26, 2015, through Jan. 5, 2016. Matthew Tkachuk will play for London in the Ontario Hockey League this season.

"Tkachuk was our best player; he looked like his old man out there, who I coached previously," U.S. coach Ron Wilson said. "He did his dad proud. He looks like he's going to get to stay with us. He was one of the borderline calls [as one of the younger players] but he made up for it and we have no problem keeping him around."

Wilson said after the game he expects to trim the 39-player evaluation roster by seven forwards and three defensemen. Tkachuk, 17, scored a natural hat trick in the second period, including one while on his knees and poking at the puck from the slot. Tkachuk, who scored 38 goals and 96 points in 65 games for the United States National Junior Team, was all smiles when told that Wilson compared his style of play to his father.

"He has a long way to go with regard to his size (6-foot, 188 pounds), but he has a nose for the net and fights and claws and he's tenacious like his dad was," Wilson said. "He scored a goal that reminded me just like his dad, on his knees, getting a rebound. That's a Keith Tkachuk goal."

Right wing Brock Boeser (Vancouver Canucks) scored three goals for the United States.

Wilson said center Dylan Larkin, who was selected in the first round (No. 15) by the Detroit Red Wings at the 2014 NHL Draft, had his best effort in two scrimmages. Larkin, who had two assists as the center for Boeser, was considered by many to be the top forward for the United States at the 2015 WJC in Montreal and Toronto.

"Up to this point, I don't think he had done as much as I would have hoped for but [on Monday] he was much better," Wilson said. "He's the best player we have by reputation and by his work in other tournaments. He's very highly rated by USA Hockey, but he hadn't really brought it until [Monday] afternoon."

U.S. right wing Anders Bjork (Boston Bruins) had two goals and one assist.

"I feel we will have good balance once we get both teams together," Wilson said. "We're strong at center, especially on the white team. We have that checking center as well; you can't have a team that's all offense, and you have to have people in their roles. I think we've identified those people in their roles."

Defenseman Rasmus Andersson (Calgary Flames) scored twice for Sweden.


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