For once, there was a “slow” day in this busy week of American hockey. With only the National Junior camp team in action Thursday, there was a little less to keep track of.
The roster of remaining players at the National Junior Evaluation Camp bounced back from its loss to Sweden with a 4-1 victory over Finland. There were plenty of bright spots on the U.S. roster as the players continue to build some chemistry with the smaller group.
Coming up after the jump, a look at some of the players that stood out, the bad news for Connor Murphy, and the continued exellence of Seth Jones.
Shane Prince scored twice, while Nick Bjugstad and J.T. Miller also provided goals in the U.S. win. Andy Iles was between the pipes and allowed just one goal on 26 shots.
A look at the standouts:
Andy Iles – Iles has quietly posted a pretty solid camp. Though much smaller than Jack Campbell and John Gibson, Iles competes. He’s an athletic and confident goaltender and has played very well throughout his time in Lake Placid. Having served as the back up last year, he’s been to the tournament and knows what will be required of him. The competition between him and Gibson should heat up.
Jarred Tinordi — The big defenseman needed to have a good camp, and he has so far. One thing I’ve noticed is that he’s seemed to improve his mobility and skating in general. That’s important for a guy his size. It’s also important for Team USA to have a big, physical presence on the back end. The way Tinordi has played will put him in a really good position to be that guy. He needed to be better and he has been.
J.T. Miller – The one thing Miller has consistently done in the tournament is use his speed incredibly well. He’s strong in his skates and beats defensemen with his legs. The one thing he’ll have to avoid is penalty trouble, which he got into against Finland. That said, if he continues to wheel like this, it’s going to be impossible to leave him off the squad.
Shane Prince – Prince scored two goals, the first coming off of a net-front tip and the second on a nice little shot from a tough angle. The thing I’ve liked about Prince is the slick skill he possesses. He’s been shifty, but he’s also been smart. He finds the soft areas of the ice really well and playing with Vince Trocheck doesn’t hurt one bit. Those two were very good against the Finns.
Vincent Trocheck — With two assists against Finland, Trocheck has proven to be a consistent producer in the camp. He’s consistently dangerous as well. Even when he’s not scoring, he’s creating chances in the offensive zone. His ability to get pucks to the net and create opportunities for his teammates is helping him make a big statement to the coaching staff.
Seth Jones — The youngest player in camp might just be one of the best. Jones hasn’t looked out of place for a second. He assisted on Prince’s first goal with a smart shot from the point. Prince did wonderfully with the redirection, but it was Jones who gave him the opportunity. While he needs to build strength, Seth Jones has proven time and time again he is mentally ready for this tournament. The tools are there, but the brains are what separates him from every kid his age. He plays beyond his years.
Stefan Noesen — I don’t know that I was prepared for how good of a skater Noesen is in open ice. He was blowing by defenders with relative ease coming down the wing. I like the speed and strength he brings to the table.
Adam Clendening — Clendening’s puck skills are unrivaled on Team USA’s blue line. He has tremendous stickhandling ability and poise with the puck. He takes risks here and there, but when the risks pay off, they pay off big. I’m constantly impressed by his offensive instincts and puck-moving ability.
EDIT: In my haste to publish this post before the first broadcast at the Five Nations today, I forgot the Murphy blurb…
The one bit of very unfortunate news that came down Thursday was that defenseman Connor Murphy was injured in a collision during practice. The Phoenix Coyotes will examine Murphy, but NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman previously reported that Murphy suffered a torn meniscus and will be out three to four months. That report has since been edited.
Regardless of time missed, the fact that Murphy has once again suffered what appears to be a serious injury is extremely unfortunate. He’s missed the better part of the last two seasons with injuries to his back. In his last year of midget hockey, Murphy was sidelined with a lacerated spleen. So to say he’s had bad luck is a laughable understatement. He’s had the worst luck.
It’s a shame for a player who has worked so hard to come back from the spondy (stress fracture of a vertabra) that kept him out most of the last two seasons. Murphy was set to report to Sarnia after signing his first pro contract with Phoenix. He’ll still be headed to the Sting, but it appears it will be much later than expected.
If it is indeed a torn meniscus and Murphy is out for several months, his position on the U.S. National Junior Team is likely in jeopardy. The defensive corps was going to be hard enough to make, but to lose valuable time, it would be tough for Murphy to be in game shape for the World Juniors. That’s just a shame. He was a big part of Team USA’s gold medal victory at the Under-18s, so there’s no doubt he was being strongly considered for a spot.
Hopefully the injury is not as bad as initially feared and Murphy will be able to be back in time to give himself a shot.
The U.S. Under-18 Select Team wrapped up the Ivan Hlinka Tournament earlier Friday with a 3-1 win over the Czech Republic in the fifth place game. While the finish is disappointing, the U.S. actually won three of four games.
The loss to Finland and the inability to close in regulation cost them the spot in the semifinals, but to come out and earn a good 3-1 win against the Czechs on home ice is leaving the tournament on a positive note.
Nick Schilkey, Alex Galchenyuk and Danny O’Regan scored for Team USA, while Jon Gillies made 21 saves in his best performance of the tournament.
Seth Appert also said that the team played its best defensive game of the tournament. It may have been a disappointing finish, but again the team won four of five games (including its exhibition) while in Europe.
It’s a valuable experience for the players involved, as for many it was their first international experience. That’s the big value of the Ivan Hlinka for USA Hockey. The ability to expose more players to international hockey goes a long way for the future when making selections for the World Junior Championship in particular.
I’m hoping to catch up with some of the U.S. staff to get a full recap of the Ivan Hlinka, so stay tuned for that.
The U.S. Under-17 Select Team will play Slovakia Friday night at the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament. The game will air live on FASTHockey.com at 7 p.m. EDT. With a regulation win, the U.S. will clinch the tournament title, with one game left to play Saturday.
Bob Corkum has had his team going pretty well at the tournament so far and the action has been pretty exciting from Ann Arbor.
Be sure to tune in on FASTHockey tonight for what should be another exciting contest featuring some of the top 16-year-olds in the world.