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World Juniors

U.S. closes camp with big win against Canada

Coyotes prospect Clayton Keller has goal, assist in victory; Sweden tops Finland in shootout

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Any time the United States and Canada play a competitive game, there's extra energy, whether it's for a gold medal or an August exhibition.

The final game of the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp at USA Hockey Arena featured an intensity level to match a game at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"Anytime you play Canada, there's that rivalry there," United States forward Logan Brown (Ottawa Senators) said. "Any time you play internationally, it's really intense. But you could feel the vibes before the game, during the game today."

Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes) had a goal and an assist for the U.S. in a 5-1 win. Brown, Jack Roslovic (Winnipeg Jets), Jordan Greenway (Minnesota Wild) and Brock Boeser (Vancouver Canucks) also scored.

Goalie Tyler Parsons (Calgary Flames) made 35 saves, including 22 in the first period.

"We dodged a bullet in the first period," U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. "Our goalie was outstanding. They poured it on us. … I told him two nights ago that he had this game, and he had a twinkle in his eye. He wanted it and he backed it up."

Four of the U.S. goals came from close to the net, with the American forwards again using their size advantage to create scoring opportunities. Among them was Greenway, who scored his third goal of the tournament when he got position at the front of the net and lifted the puck over Canada goalie Connor Ingram (Tampa Bay Lightning) at 18:48 of the first period.

"The second half of [2015-16], he had a quietly effective season at [Boston University]," U.S. general manager Jim Johansson said. "It was great to see him carry that into this camp."

Goals by Roslovic and Greenway gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead after the first period, and then Brown scored with a shot from the left side to make it 3-0 at 5:55 of the second.

Keller made it 4-0 when he banged in a loose puck at the side of the net for a power-play goal at 13:07 of the third.

Tweet from @USAHockeyScores: FINAL: The U.S. defeat Canada, 5-1. #NJECClayton Keller tallied Team USA's fourth goal of the game.

After Nicolas Roy (Carolina Hurricanes) scored for Canada, Boeser closed the scoring with a power-play goal from the top of the right circle with 17.9 seconds remaining in the third.

The U.S. finished the camp with two wins in its final three games, following a 4-3 victory against Sweden on Wednesday and a 2-1 loss to Finland on Friday. Motzko said it was a good first step in picking the team that will play for the U.S. at the WJC, and the players appear to have enjoyed it just as much.

"I think yesterday against Finland we let one slip away," Brown said. "We didn't play our best game. Would have been nice to come out of here undefeated, but it's summertime, and the big show is Christmastime. We took some big steps as a unit this camp. Hopefully, most of the guys in the room are on the team come Christmastime."

Canada not worried -- Despite going 0-3 and scoring one goal in each game, Canada coach Dominique Ducharme isn't worried that his players have forgotten how to score.

"I think we have enough skills and the team that we're going to have at Christmas, we're going to have enough skills to score goals," he said. "Again, at that time of the year, in August, execution is not quite there because it's a pretty quick turnaround for them training and playing shinny, and then playing those kind of games. It's much faster. So it's all about execution and finishing and confidence for an offensive player comes from execution."

Ducharme thought his team's best period was the first, when it had 22 shots on goal but trailed 2-0.

"Being down by two after I thought probably playing our best period here, the guys are squeezing their sticks even more," he said. "It's a hard pace to be keeping at that time of the year. So we've got to be able to do that for 60 minutes, and our goal is to be playing that way when we get to Christmastime like we did in the first."

As he's done at other times during camp, Ducharme referenced the calendar to show his lack of concern with the performance of his players.

"We're building something long term, not for one week in August," he said.

Coyotes the winner in Canada-U.S. faceoff -- Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka could imagine the future when he looked at the rosters for the U.S. and Canada on Saturday.

Centering the top line for Canada was Dylan Strome, chosen by the Coyotes with the third pick of the 2015 NHL Draft. Keller, selected by the Coyotes with the seventh pick of the 2016 draft, was centering the top line for the U.S.

"Those are guys we feel a strong degree of confidence they'll be involved in our organization for a long time," Chayka said. "We're always looking at the future, and the future is bright."

Keller had two goals and five assists in four games at the camp.

"He's a smart player that thinks two and three steps ahead of the game," Chayka said. "He touches the puck four or five times every shift and makes good plays every time he touches it. When he gets the puck, he executes what he's looking to do so quickly that regardless of his size, he can be successful."

Chayka said the next step is for Keller to use his freshman season at Boston University to continue to develop his game and add strength to his 5-foot-10, 168-pound frame.

"I think it's important that he just continues, like any young player, to improve his defensive awareness and play a 200-foot game and be on the right side of the puck," Chayka said. "… He needs to develop physically, and that's what we're looking for from him this year."

The same could be said for Strome, who the Coyotes would like to see add to his 6-3, 185-pound frame.

"His skill set is there," Chayka said. "He's a smart player, he's a mature kid. So it's a matter now of the physical development. He's doing everything he can this summer to get to the next level. As a manger, it's comforting to see that. He'll have a lot of opportunity, and we hope he takes advantage of it."

More praise for Eriksson Ek -- Sweden's Joel Eriksson Ek scored the game-deciding goal in the fourth round of the shootout for a 3-2 win against Finland on Saturday. The goal capped a strong camp for the Minnesota Wild's 2015 first-round pick (No. 20).

Eriksson Ek had two goals in four games, but coach Tomas Monten said there's been more to his game than just on-ice production.

"He wears the C on his jersey because he's the player he is," Monten said. "He doesn't speak much in the locker room, [but] every time we're on the ice, every time we're in the gym, every time we step on the ice, he puts his best game on and he shows the rest of the players where to follow."

Eriksson, who played for Sweden at the 2016 WJC, said he relishes the leadership role.

"I was playing last year so I need to show the new guys how this works," he said. "I want to be a leader and help the team be as good as possible."

Lias Andersson, a top prospect for the 2017 draft, got the game to overtime with a shorthanded goal at 3:06 of the second period. David Bernhardt (Philadelphia Flyers) also scored for Sweden.

Juuso Valimaki and Julius Nattinen (Florida Panthers) scored for Finland. Eeli Tolvanen, another top prospect for the 2017 draft, had two assists.

Youth is served for Finland -- After allowing 16 goals in its first two games of camp, Finland won two of its final three games, allowing four non-shootout goals. It defeated Canada 2-1 in overtime on Wednesday and the U.S. 2-1 on Friday before the shootout loss to Sweden.

"We stared this project about almost two weeks ago back in Finland," right wing Kasper Bjorkqvist (Pittsburgh Penguins) said. "Practiced there, played two games against Czech Republic, did pretty well. … We were pretty confident flying over. Then we got two pretty cold showers playing against United States here, and I think after that we spoke a lot about team values. We talked how every guy needed to play for the team if we want to win. We took huge steps in all the final three games we played. I think going to the World Juniors we are on a great way to the right direction."

Finland's best two players were two of its youngest forwards, Tolvanen, who turned 17 on April 22, and Kristian Vesalainen, who turned 17 on June 1. Each is considered a top prospect for the 2017 draft.

Tolvanen, who played right wing on the top line, had two assists against Sweden and finished camp with three goals and three assists in five games. Vesalainen, who played left wing on the second line, had one shot on goal in five games.

"He's a big guy, not afraid of anything," Bjorkqvist said of Vesalainen, his linemate along with center Julius Mattila. "Playing in Sweden [with Frolunda], you can see he plays that Swedish hockey game, wants to play with the puck and keep the puck. He skates really good. It's a pretty high-paced game with him."

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