The first few days at the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp is a bit of a competitive feeling-out process. The players are trying to get to know each other and gel in a short period of time, while also knowing they’re competing against each other for spots. However, as many of the players are about to find, these first impressions are pretty important.
First cuts will be made after today’s games against the European teams, as the U.S. trims closer to 22 for the remainder of camp. Today’s contests will be the last chance for the players to prove they belong. Today is particularly important for the guys on the bubble. They can either play themselves off it, or seal their ticket home. Against such quality competition from Sweden and Finland, the task will be tough.
It seems like a small sample size to go ahead and make cuts, but it’s important to keep in mind, these players have been monitored closely over the last year or two in various USA Hockey programs, as well as being scouted heavily by the administrators throughout the latter half of last season. The decisions will be pretty well informed. Once the new roster is announced, I’ll have a look at the decisions later Tuesday.
Now getting back to what happened over the weekend. Due to some family obligations, I was unable to watch the games, so there isn’t as much analysis here as there would normally be. I’ll be watching every U.S. game from here on out as they meet the European rosters, so expect full rundowns the rest of the way.
Coming up after the jump, a look at the stats through two days, as well as the line starting line combinations from each game.
First Period: 1, BLUE, Blackwell (Kuraly, Kerdiles), 14:46; 2, WHITE, Boucher (Hartman), 15:42.
Second Period: 3, WHITE, Boyd (unassisted), 0:39; 4, BLUE, Kuraly (Kerdiles, Blackwell), 1:51; 5, WHITE, Broadhurst (Boucher, Jones), 6:41.
Third Period: 6, WHITE, McCabe (Vesey, Trocheck), 9:59; 7, WHITE, Biggs (Reilly, Miller), 12:26.
|USA Blue, Gibson, 28:58||5/6||6/8||0/0||11/14|
|USA White, Sparks, 30:01||12/13||2/3||0/0||14/16|
Here’s a look at the line combos they started with on Saturday.
Jimmy Vesey – Vince Trocheck – J.T. Miller
Reid Boucher – Alex Broadhurst – Ryan Hartman
Stefan Matteau – Travis Boyd – Tyler Biggs
Blake Pietila – Cole Bardreau – Logan Nelson
Jake McCabe – Robbie Russo Garret Sparks
Brian Cooper – Andy Welinski Antony Stolarz
Mike Reilly – Seth Jones
Joakim Ryan – Connor Murphy
Stefan Noesen – Alex Galchenyuk – John Gaudreau
Nic Kerdiles – Sean Kuraly – Colin Blackwell
Mario Lucia – Steven Fogarty – Henrik Samuelsson
Adam Reid – Thomas Di Pauli – Brian Hart
Shayne Gostisbehere – Mike Paliotta John Gibson
Patrick Sieloff – Jordan Schmaltz Jon Gillies
Garret Haar – Connor Carrick
Matt Grzelcyk – Brady Skjei
Scratched: Jacob Trouba
- One shouldn’t read too much into lines and where guys are slotted and in what order. It’s certainly worth noting which combinations they put together, just because it starts to paint a picture of who USA Hockey’s brass kind of envisions together. If they see a group that works in camp, it’ll be filed away for the future. Tough to get chemistry this quick, but if it originates naturally or from past teams, it’s noticeable immediately.
- That first line for Team Blue of Noesen, Galchenyuk, Gaudreau, on paper looks filthy. According to those in attendance, and even in the box score, they weren’t effective. That’s just Day 1. Lock that combo away in your brain for later.
- Trouba was scratched because they had an uneven number of D in camp and as a returnee, they don’t need to see him as much as the other guys in camp.
- Apparently Reid Boucher’s goal was his stereotypical snipe job. The Devils pick is a natural scoring talent. He’s not necessarily one-dimensional, but his standout tool is by far his shot. He has to be a scorer to make this team. Good start for him.
- Colin Blackwell of Harvard had a two-point night. Finally got a chance to watch some video of him and was impressed with his speed and skill. Blackwell is small, so it’s crucial for him to show he can be productive against his bigger, stronger competition.
- Heard some glowing comments about Tyler Biggs’ play. He was reunited with his former U18 center Travis Boyd, which probably helped. Those two were effective when paired together in their NTDP days. If Biggs is to make the team he needs to be that physical presence and if he produces at a consistent clip, it’s a nice bonus.
First Period: 1, BLUE, Kuraly (Carrick, Grzelcyk), 5:29; 2, BLUE, Kuraly (Blackwell, Schmaltz), 9:03; 3, WHITE, Trocheck (Ryan, Welinski), 11:42 (pp); 4, WHITE, Matteau (Miller, Broadhurst).
Second Period: 5, WHITE, Vesey (unassisted), 4:22; 6, BLUE, Blackwell (Trouba, Noesen), 12:52; 7, BLUE, Fogarty (Grzelcyk), 18:34.
Third Period: None.
|USA Blue, Gillies, 30:16||8/10||6/7||0/0||14/17|
|USA White, Stolarz, 30:16||7/9||8/8||0/0||15/17|
Here’s a look at the lines from Sunday
Boucher – Trocheck – Hartman
Matteau – Broadhurst – Miller
Pietila – Boyd – Bardreau
Vesey – Nelson – Biggs
McCabe – Russo Stolarz
Cooper – Welinski Sparks
Reilly – Murphy
Lucia – Galchenyuk – Gaudreau
Noesen – Kuraly – Blackwell
Kerdiles – DiPauli – Samuelsson
Reid – Fogarty – Hart
Sieloff – Trouba Gillies
Haar – Schmaltz Gibson
Grzelcyk – Paliotta
Scratched: Skjei, Gostisbehere
- Always interesting to note the jumbled up lines and D pairings, particularly who stayed together.
- Seeing Galchenyuk back with Gaudreau for a second day is highly intriguing. When I saw their names pop up on the same roster, it seemed like that was a great match for a potential top line or second line. I’m told both were standouts on Sunday.
- Three D got scratched, presumably to go with just seven D a side, unlike the eight a side they played with yesterday. Couldn’t confirm why those were scratched, but if healthy, getting scratched on Day 2 is usually a good sign the decision-makers saw good things on Day 1. Sounds weird, but true.
- Another two-point day for Colin Blackwell is a good sign for the diminutive winger.
- Sean Kuraly had a pair of goals in Sunday and was noticeable for much of the game according to a scout watching the action. He leads the camp with three goals and four points now. Bet you didn’t predict with all the first-rounders in camp, Kuraly would be taking charge. I know I didn’t. Coming off a huge season with Indiana, this could be a name we’re hearing a lot leading into the final decision process.
- I’ve been hearing glowing reports about Mike Reilly’s skill level being shown in camp. The defenseman’s puck-moving abilities were hearalded coming out the BCHL and it sounds like they’re translating.
Statistical Leaders Through Two Games
Sean Kuraly – 3g-1a — 4 pts
Colin Blackwell – 2g-2a — 4 pts
Seven Players tied with 2 pts (Matt Grzelcyk leads all D with two points (0-2)
Anthony Stolarz – 59 min, 26 saves/28 shots, 2.03 gaa, .929 sv%
John Gibson – 57 min, 32/35, 3.16, .914
Garret Sparks – 59 min, 25/29, 4.07, .862
Jon Gillies – 61 min, 29/34, 4.92, .853
Later today, the camp really kicks into high gear with the introduction of games against Finland and Sweden. USA Blue takes on the Finns at 1 p.m. EDT, while White will meet the Swedes at 4 p.m. EDT. Both games will be available on FASTHockey.com (pay-per-view).
Coming up Tuesday on USofH, comprehensive breakdowns of both games, including notes on top performers. Additionally, USA Hockey is likely to have all of its cuts made by Tuesday, so full reaction to that should be up not long after the updated roster is released.
Also, if you’re on Twitter, I’ll be answering camp questions all day long as well as providing updates on the games as they happen including some thoughts on player performances. You can follow along here: @chrismpeters.