LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- One day after his team's 10-2 rout of Sweden, U.S. coach Phil Housley had a small group of players on the ice for a short practice Friday.
With a lot of ice time during the National Junior Evaluation Camp, Housley said being able to keep most of the team off the ice, giving them a full day of freedom from workouts or video, was the best plan.
"We were trying to look through our schedule and since we didn't have a lot of practice time after the first three games when we had everybody out there, certainly the way they played [Thursday], they got rewarded with a day off," Housley told NHL.com.
The team will reconvene Saturday for the final day of the camp, capped by a game against Finland. Housley said he and his staff still are undecided on the look of the lineup, but said there are a few players he would like to see more of in game situations. Among them are forward Jimmy Vesey and goalies Anthony Stolarz and Jon Gillies. They're the only three players to not get into one of the past two single-squad games, against Sweden and Finland.
Vesey, a left wing taken by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft, will play against Finland. He had 48 goals and 91 points in 45 games for the South Shore Kings of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, but the Boston native knows playing in this week's camp is a major step up in competition.
"It's been a good experience playing against such high-end guys," he told NHL.com. "I'm coming out of a low level competing in the [EJHL]. Just to see how they [other players] prepare and how fast and strong they are out there, I think it's going to give me confidence going forward."
Housley said he's liked what he's seen from Vesey so far in practice, but is hoping there's even more when the game starts.
"I think he's got to carry his game to another level and we've talked about that," Housley said. "Certainly he's very gifted offensively. Hopefully he can bring that to the table [Saturday]. He'll get a nice opportunity to play against Finland."
Vesey said his goal entering camp was to make an impression on the USA Hockey management staff, and plans to continue doing that Saturday.
"I'm just trying to work as hard as I can in practice and show the coaches I can contribute once I get in the lineup," he said. "They expect me, if I'm going to be on the team, to contribute offense, so I'm just going to show that I have a good presence in the offensive zone and I can bury the puck."
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