Rangers prospects J.T. Miller
and Shane McColgan
got their first taste of international action at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp at Lake Placid, N.Y., on Monday as they helped USA Team White beat Finland 5-3.
Miller, the Rangers' 2011 first-round draft pick, and McColgan, a 2011 fifth-rounder, skated on the starting line for Team USA along with Florida Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi. Miller played left wing with Grimaldi at center and McColgan on the right side. The Rangers duo did not account for any of the five USA goals, but had numerous scoring chances and applied great pressure on the Finns.
By playing on Team White, the duo got another chance to showcase their skills for the USA Hockey officials who will pick the 2012 U.S. World Junior Championship team. They also got a chance to work with Rangers assistant coach Mike Sullivan, who served as the USA split-squad team's head coach on Monday.
The back-and-forth game was tied three times before Team USA broke it open with goals by Grimaldi at 16:50 of the second period and Justin Faulk just 27 seconds later at 17:17.
Team USA took a 1-0 lead on a goal by New Jersey native and Yale University sophomore Kenny Agostino, who scored off a feed from Charlie Coyle at 9:07 of the first period.
Moments later, the Finns tied the game 1-1 when Miika Salomaki beat USA goalie John Gibson with a bullet from the high slot at 10:18.
Finland's Teemu Pulkkinen scored to give his team its first lead on the game's first power play at 12:38 of the first, converting a pass from Markus Granlund to make it 2-1. The goal came 36 seconds after Team USA's Faulk had shot the puck over the glass from his own zone to take a delay-of-game penalty.
Miller was stopped on a great scoring chance the 14-minute mark, and the Miller-Grimaldi-McColgan line applied some of its best pressure of the game with just over two minutes remaining in the first. The sequence featured some particularly sharp passing by McColgan, a native of California who plays for Kelowna in the Western Hockey League.
Team USA outshot Finns 12-8 in first period and 37-34 for the game.
Miller, who scored two goals in the final USA Blue-White game on Sunday, was used in all situations on Monday -- seeing time on the first power-play unit with McColgan as well asthe penalty kill.
With time running out in second-period Finland penalty, U.S. defenseman Justin Holl pinched in to tie the score 2-2 off a pass from Charlie Coyle, completing a series of pretty plays by U.S. forwards Coyle and Agostino at 3:21.
Finland regained the lead on a goal by Miro Aaltonen, taking advantage of a perfect pass from 2011 first-round pick Joel Armia at 4:51 of the second. Miller and McColgan's line came right back after that goal to apply great pressure and give the U.S. a spark that led to the tying goal, by Brian Ferlin, who made it 3-3 off a 2-on-1 with Agostino at 6:30 of the second.
Later in the period, with the teams kating 4-on-4, Miller nearly scored off pass from defenseman Scott Mayfield. His shot wenshot just wide, but seconds later, Grimaldi scored the eventual game-winner off the rebound of a Mayfield shot from the right point to put the U.S. up 4-3.
Coming out of the penalty box, Faulk stretched the lead to 5-3 when he took a pass from Mayfield and shot it high into the net past Finland's Gibson.
Working on power play late in the second period with just over a minute left in the second period, Miller found McColgan in front for a near goal at 18:49. The shot required a big save from Finnish goaltender Gibson.
Team USA will play its next game on Wednesday, when the Americans face Team Sweden at 4 p.m. at Lake Placid. The team that takes the ice for that game will have been cut down from the original 44 players invited to camp.