Rangers prospect Lias Andersson said it's never easy playing competitive hockey in the summer, even if he made it look so yesterday in scoring both of Sweden's goals in a 3-2 loss to Team USA at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich.
"I think I had a pretty good game," the seventh overall pick in June's NHL Entry Draft told NYRangers.com Thursday in a phone interview. "The first two games of the season are always tough. You have to get the legs going again and getting used to the game again. It's tough.
"The first two games were OK," he added. "I think yesterday was a step up for me and the team and I think we played pretty well."
There hasn't been much hockey on the calendar for the 18-year-old. Aside from the Rangers' development camp in late June, Andersson hasn't played a game since he and HV71 captured the Swedish Hockey League's championship on April 29.
While getting back into the rhythm of the season is difficult during the summer, Andersson said it's equally nice to see faces he hasn't seen in months.
"It's hard. We don't have so much ice time in the summer," Andersson said of his time away from skating. "It's of course tough for the boys to get things going again. It's fun to be around the ice again and the boys again. It's tough in the beginning, but it gets better the more we play."
Those boys not only include his Swedish teammates, but also his fellow Future Blue teammates with the Rangers. Both Sean Day and Tim Gettinger are currently on Team USA, with Gettinger dressing yesterday against Andersson.
"It's cool to play against them now," said Andersson, who mentioned he spent time with Day at the teams' hotel during the week. "It's fun to get to know these guys."
After spending all of last season - and parts of the year prior - playing against men in the SHL, are there adjustments to be made when playing against the best players in his age group? Simply put, no.
"I just try to play my game every shift and leave everything out there," Andersson stated. "It's still hockey, whether it's the pros or juniors. I just try to do my thing and get the hands going and the legs going. It doesn't change too much."
The 6-foot, 200-pound Andersson represented Sweden at last year's World Juniors when he posted three goals in seven contests. While he's expected to be on the roster again for the tournament in December, he said he doesn't take the opportunity to represent his country in international tournaments lightly.
"It's a big honor for us," said Andersson, who added that there are many qualified players who don't make the club. "You have to enjoy your time here … and just work hard for Team Sweden."