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Watson, Marshall to lead U.S. at Hlinka tournament

by Adam Kimelman
Austin Watson, who played a supporting role with the Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires last season, will lead the U.S. team into the first major international event of the junior season, the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament.

Joining the United States will be Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland in the tournament, which runs Aug. 11-15 in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Canada will hold a tryout camp for the Hlinka tournament from Aug. 1-5, naming their team at the conclusion of the tryout.

Watson had 10 goals, 29 points and a plus-15 rating in 63 games with the Spitfires last season. The 6-foot-2.5, 174-pound right wing should play a more prominent role this season, especially if his performance at July's evaluation camp is an indicator.

"He handled the puck very well, he's big and physical," NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "He's able to get to the puck and make good plays."

Also part of the team is Benjamin Marshall, a defenseman lacking in size but deep in skill. Marshall, 5-8.5, 156 pounds, is from Grant, Minn., and plays at Mahtomedi High School, Marshall had 20 goals and 47 points in 26 games last season.

"When he's got the puck he's like Phil Housley," NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee told NHL.com. "He sees the ice, runs the power play. One-on-one he blows past people. It'll be interesting to see how he handles the next level. He stood out at the (evaluation) camp because he's such a dynamic skater."

Sixteen of the 21 players selected for the U.S. team are eligible for next June's draft, including Kevin Hayes, a right wing at the Nobles School in Dedham, Mass. Hayes' older brother, Jimmy Hayes, was a 2008 second-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Barzee believes Kevin could be even better.

"Kevin might have a little better finish around the net," said Barzee, "might be a little niftier and a little slicker."

Other players who impressed Barzee:

* Goaltender Zane Gothberg, from Thief River Falls (Minn.) High School: "He was outstanding. He was a pleasant surprise. He brought his 'A' game, he played so well."

* Defenseman Brandon Archibald, a 6-3, 192-pounder from the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds: "He's a strong kid, really compact but he looked a little rusty. It's summer hockey, so I don't know how much training he had, but he was tough in front of the net, and he was fun to watch."

* Right wing Michael Parks, from the St. Louis Selects midget team: "He's just tricky and smart, combative and a point-getter."

* Right wing Christian Isackson, from St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Minn.: "Isackson is a very intelligent player -- very good with the puck, away from the puck."

St. Cloud State University assistant coach Eric Rud will coach the team. University of Alabama-Huntsville coach Danton Cole, who played 318 NHL games with five different teams, will assist him.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.



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