Three Penguins prospects and four other players who came up through the Pittsburgh amateur hockey system are attending the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp currently underway in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Forward Beau Bennett
, the Penguins’ first-round pick in the 2010 NHL draft, forward Bryan Rust
, a third-round pick this past June, and defenseman Philip Samuelsson
, the team’s second-round pick in 2009, were among those chosen to attend the elite camp – which is the start of USA Hockey’s process to select the national team that will represent the United States in the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. in late December and early January.
Also attending are four players from the Pittsburgh area who learned to play hockey on local rinks – forward Brandon Saad (Gibsonia), defenseman Stephen Johns (Wampum), defenseman Patrick Wey (Mt. Lebanon) and goaltender Michael Houser (Wexford).
Saad, considered one of the top five prospects available for the 2011 NHL draft, will play this season for Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League. Johns, who was a second-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in June, will begin his college career at Notre Dame.
Wey plays for Boston College – where he was part of the 2010 NCAA championship team – and Houser plays for London of the OHL.
In the first intra-squad scrimmage on Friday, Saad had a goal to lead the USA White team to a 4-1 win over USA Blue. Bennett scored the only goal for the Blue team.
In related news, Simon Despres
, the Penguins’ first-round pick in 2009, has been invited to Team Canada’s World Junior Development camp next week in St. John.
The U.S. defeated Canada in the gold medal game of last year’s World Junior Championships.