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World Junior Summer Showcase Day 6 notebook

Ranta playing with chip on shoulder for Finland; Noel showcasing skill for Canada

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Sampo Ranta admits he arrived at USA Hockey Arena for the World Junior Summer Showcase with a chip on his shoulder.

Ranta, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the third round (No. 78) of the 2018 NHL Draft, was the last player cut by Finland for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship and was playing for the University of Minnesota when Finland won the gold medal in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Now the 19-year-old is out to prove he's worthy of a roster spot for the 2020 WJC in the Czech Republic, and he took another step toward accomplishing that by scoring a goal and adding an assist in Finland's 8-3 win against Canada on Wednesday.

"I want to be here this year, make the team, be a huge player for our team," Ranta said.

Ranta traveled with the team to Victoria, British Columbia, as an extra player during the preliminary round at the 2019 WJC but was released after the third game.

"It was tough," he said. "Took a few weeks to get over it."

Ranta, who had 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 36 games last season, will return to Minnesota for his sophomore season with the goal of starting fast and earning a spot on Finland at the 2020 WJC.

"This year, I want to be there and have a big role with our team," he said.

Noel impresses with skill, strength

Serron Noel (Florida Panthers) showcased all facets of his game in Canada's 8-3 loss to Finland on Wednesday, scoring one goal with his elite skating and a second by using his size (6-foot-5, 205 pounds) and strength to clear space at the net.

"I'm always improving and getting more confident," Noel said. "I think confidence is really the big key here. Maybe last year I wouldn't have wanted to try that little toe drag there. But for sure now, I'm confident and aware of all my skills and using my skill set in the game."

Noel's first goal came when he got the puck in the neutral zone, lost it as he deked a Finland defenseman, got it back and beat goalie Justus Annunen (Colorado Avalanche) from in front.

Tweet from @StevenEllisTHN: Serron Noel with a nice move going through the middle, lost the puck and regained it for the 7-1 goal. #WJSS

He scored again after skating to the top of the crease to redirect a shot by Jonathan Tychonick (Ottawa Senators).

Tweet from @StevenEllisTHN: Serron Noel gets his second of the night on the tip. 7-2. #WJSS

"He's a big, rangy kid that's got to get stronger," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. "His maturity as far as his physicality, it takes time to get your coordination. He's improved a lot, still has a way to go."

Noel took a big step last season with Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League, where he had 81 points (34 goals, 47 assists) in 68 games, up from 53 points in 62 games he had in 2017-18.

Canada coach Dale Hunter, who coached against Noel with London of the OHL, said he was impressed with how the 18-year-old forward consistently fought to get to the front of the net in the offensive zone.

"He's a strong guy and he can really skate, too," Hunter said. "When you put that combination together, and he has the will to go to the net, no fear. It's one thing to be strong and skate, but if you have fear of going to the net, it doesn't do you any good. But he does go to the net hard."

Tallon said there's another step for Noel to take but is confident he'll get there.

"We're excited about his future," he said. "He's a work in progress, but we're happy. We like the way he's a dedicated kid. He'll find a way."

No update on Lindbom

Sweden goalie Olof Lindbom (New York Rangers) was removed from a 6-0 loss to the United States after the second period as a precaution, coach Tomas Monten said. 

Lindbom, who made 20 saves on 23 shots, was knocked to the ice in a collision in front of his goal with 1:47 remaining in the second. The hit knocked Lindbom's mask off. 

"We'll look at it tomorrow," Monten said. "Our doctor wanted to be sure, so we took him off."

Injuries, including a concussion, limited Lindbom to eight games with Djurgarden IF J20 in Sweden's SuperElit last season. That history went into the decision to remove him from Wednesday's game.

Lindbom is the second Rangers prospect with Sweden to be injured. Defenseman Nils Lundkvist has not played since sustaining a lower-body injury on Saturday.

Zegras comfortable playing multiple positions

In four games at the WJSS, Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks) has bounced between center and left wing and played with a number of different linemates. In the United States 6-0 win against Sweden, he played left wing and scored a goal off a set up by Jacob Pivonka and Parker Ford.

Tweet from @StarsStripesHKY: Nice work behind the cage from Parker Ford and Jacob Pivonka and that results in a Trevor Zegras snipe. Zegras does a great job finding the soft spot and Pivonka gets him the puck #WJSS #LetsGoDucks #Isles #NTDP

"I would prefer center because I think I can be really good in the defensive zone," Zegras said. "But I think we have some really good lines where I could play wing, too, pretty seamlessly."

United States coach Scott Sandelin is still experimenting with lines, which means Zegras will continue to move around the lineup.

"He's shown signs on the wing, he had a good game," Sandelin said. "Center is a little more comfortable. But we'll keep experimenting and see where he might end up."

Zegras went through a similar situation last season with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team, where he had 87 points (26 goals, 61 assists) in 60 games alternating forward spots.

The 18-year-old forward is confident he can play center in the NHL but understands being versatile could help him get there faster.

"I think I can be a really good center one day," Zegras said. "But I think it's nice to have a guy you can put on the wing late in games in different situations. I think it's good to know all positions on the ice. I think it can only help me."

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