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World Juniors

World Junior Summer Showcase Day 8 notebook

Caufield showing all-around game for United States; Veleno taking leadership role for Canada

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Cole Caufield knows he isn't going to score every time he shoots the puck, but the Montreal Canadiens forward prospect is going to keep shooting until he does.

"Every time I shoot I feel the puck should go in the net, so if I'm shooting I'm trying to score," Caufield said after he had a goal and an assist for the United States in a 6-5 loss to Finland at the World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena on Friday. "Sometimes they don't go in or they hit the post, but just keep shooting."

Caufield led the U.S. with seven shots on goal, and his 22 shots in four games leads all players. He's also coming off a season where he scored 72 goals in 64 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team.

"I only got one today, but I probably could have had three or four more," Caufield said. 

His second-period goal showcased his hard, accurate shot. Caufield got the puck in space in the offensive zone, made a quick move to freeze Finland defenseman Ville Heinola (Winnipeg Jets) and clear a shooting lane, and fired a low shot past the glove of goalie Jasper Patrikainen.

Tweet from @StarsStripesHKY: Cole Caufield doing what he does best, as he brings Team USA to within two. Check out the move that gets Ville Heinola to stand up briefly and give Caufield the room to shoot. #WJSS #GoHabsGo #NTDP

Just as impressive was how Caufield used his shot as a decoy and made a seam pass to Jack Drury (Carolina Hurricanes) for a power-play goal in the third.

Tweet from @StarsStripesHKY: A couple of Wisconsin Badgers team up with the helpers on Jack Drury's PP tally. K'Andre Miller finds Cole Caufield and he fires the pretty cross-ice pass to Drury for the finish. #WJSS #NYR #GoHabsGo #Badgers #TakeWarning

"I think people realize more (that) I'm an all-around player, not just a shooter," Caufield said. "I like people to see that. I think my shot opens up other things and you saw that tonight."

U.S. coach Scott Sandelin has been impressed by all facets of Caufield's play.

"He gets in the right spots on the rink," Sandelin said. "He's got that ability too. I know he can score goals but that was a pretty nice pass. ... He's sturdy, he's strong on his feet and he's got some grit to his game. I've been impressed how strong he is on his feet. Just the way he finds areas of the rink and knows where to go to get the puck, get opportunities. And the better part is he's not afraid to go into the hard areas."


Veleno emphasizing leadership, two-way play

Joseph Veleno (Detroit Red Wings) is being counted on as a leader on and off the ice for Canada, not just for the WJSS but potentially for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Veleno is one of two players at the WJSS who played on Canada's sixth-place team at the 2019 WJC and said that memory has served as a motivating factor.

"Last year was disappointing, for sure," Veleno said. "I think the guys coming back from last year's team are motivated to get a better result, winning a gold medal. It's not fun losing. Hopefully this year we'll be more prepared."

Veleno had a goal and an assist while playing on the top line for Canada in a 4-1 win against the United States on Tuesday, his only game at the WJSS. But Canada needs him to do more than put up points.

"He needs to make plays and play a solid two-way game so he can play in every situation, which we all know he's capable of doing," said Mark Hunter, a member of Hockey Canada's management group.

Veleno said he understands the defensive part of his game is a work in progress.

"I've put a lot of effort into that, learning how to get better, watching video, talking to Detroit (about) certain things I have to do to be better defensively," he said. "I think I've come a long way."

Veleno said he's been studying Red Wings center Dylan Larkin, and Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said he's seen improvement as well as a willingness from Veleno to get better.

"This is what every really good player in the NHL has to learn, that you can't be a great winner, no matter how many points you put up, without being a great two-way player," Blashill said. "What I think [Veleno] has done is accepted the fact that that's going to lead to him having quicker success and a quicker path to the NHL. He's bought in."


Canada tours The Big House

With a day off Thursday, Canada traveled a few miles south to get a tour of Michigan Stadium and the University of Michigan football locker room.

"It was pretty cool," forward Kirby Dach (Chicago Blackhawks) said Friday. "You hear so many things about that stadium, just taking it all in and seeing how big it really is was a shock. Hockey rinks are built for 20,000 people and we think that's a lot, and then you go into that stadium that holds 110,000."

Michigan Stadium hosted the NHL Winter Classic in 2014, with 105,491 fans watching the Toronto Maple Leafs' 3-2 shootout win against the Red Wings.

Veleno said being in the same locker room as New England Patriots quarterback and Michigan alum Tom Brady was his highlight.

"He's a great football player now, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time," Veleno said. "For me, being in the same dressing room he was in was pretty impressive."


Thomson heading home

Finland defenseman Lassi Thomson, selected by the Ottawa Senators with the No. 19 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, said the decision to play for Ilves in Liiga this season rather than return to Kelowna of the Western Hockey League was made with his NHL future in mind.

"I think it's better for me to play with men," Thomson said Thursday. "I think I'm ready to play in the NHL if I play now with men."

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said the organization left the decision to Thomson, knowing that going to Finland meant he would not attend Senators training camp.

"We like the option in Finland," Dorion said. "Our head European scout is Finnish, Mikko Ruutu, and he said that if he had to pick any place for a 19-year-old defenseman to be it would be in Ilves. They have good coaching, they're going to have a good, young team, good quality veterans, and at the end of the day when we signed him to a contract we left it up to him to decide where he was going to go. ... We know that within the next 2-3 years he'll be on the [Senators] and contributing."

Video: Senators draft D Lassi Thomson No. 19

Thomson is one of six Senators prospects taking part in the WJSS, along with United States forwards Jonathan Gruden, Luke Loheit and Shane Pinto, and Canada defensemen Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonathan Tychonick. Loheit was part of the U.S. cuts on Monday.

Dorion was especially excited by what he's seen from Bernard-Docker, who will return for his sophomore season at the University of North Dakota.

"Bernard-Docker, between him and (Erik) Brannstrom, they were our two best defensemen at development camp," Dorion said. "We even opened the door for Bernard-Docker to come out, but we think the best thing for him is probably to go back."

The six prospects tied the Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders and Canadiens for the second-most of any NHL team, one fewer than the Los Angeles Kings.

"Really makes us feel good," Dorion said. "Shows us our scouts have done a tremendous job as far as drafting in the last couple of years. Having six kids here, it's six guys that we feel are going to have good NHL careers. I think it bodes well for our organization."


Lindbom doing better

Sweden goalie Olof Lindbom (New York Rangers) does not have a concussion but will not play against Finland on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN).

Lindbom left the game against the United States on Wednesday after the second period. He had been knocked to the ice and had his mask knocked off in a goal-mouth collision late in the second.

Coach Tomas Monten said Lindbom's concussion history led to the decision to remove him for precautionary reasons.

"He's a lot better," Monten said Friday. "He feels good, hasn't felt anything from the hit. He's up and running but we're just going to hold him off. He's got soreness in the neck and the back but no concussion. (It) was good news."

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