The newly-trimmed roster for Team USA didn’t get off to the best of starts in its first game as one squad. The U.S. fell to Sweden 4-0 Wednesday.
It was one of those games that just never had much flow. The U.S. couldn’t do a thing offensively and when they did generate chances, Marcus Hogberg was solid between the pipes and shut the door. He made 27 saves in the whitewashing.
It’s a good thing the staff has two more games to watch these guys because no one has really stood out enough to really solidify his candidacy. The first half of the season will be weighed far more heavily than this camp, but with this opportunity for exposure, players making a good first impression can improve their chances dramatically. I don’t think it’s happened for more than a handful of guys.
It’s August, so the hockey is going to be somewhat sloppy, but as we enter the last few days of the camp, players are really going to have to start stepping up and make a lasting impression.
Coming up after the jump, a summary from the game, a look at the line combos Team USA started the game with and notes on some of the notable U.S. players from the game.
Scoring Summary — Sweden 4 – USA 0
First Period — 1. SWE, Tornkvist (Nilsson, Hagg), 6:04.
Second Period — 2. SWE, Burakowsky (de la Rose, Sandberg), 4:19 (pp); 3. SWE, Possler (Wennberg, Djoos), 8:42 (pp); 4. SWE, Wallmark (Burakowsky), 12:36.
Third Period — None.
Goalie Summary (saves/shots)
Jon Gillies (USA) — 19/22
Thatcher Demko (USA) — 16/17
Marcus Hogberg (SWE) — 27/27
Today’s Starting Lineup…
Nic Kerdiles — Danny O’Regan — Riley Barber
Taylor Cammarata — Quentin Shore — Michael McCarron
Tyler Motte — J.T. Compher — Hudson Fasching
Stefan Matteau — Boo Nieves — Adam Erne
Will Butcher — Connor Carrick
Patrick Sieloff — Brett Pesce
Brady Skjei — Michael Brodzinski
Ian McCoshen — Steven Santini
Not Dressed for USA: Anthony Stolarz, Matt Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, Henrik Samuelsson, Andrew Copp, Thomas Di Pauli, Dominic Toninato, Jake Guentzel.
***Don’t read too much into the scratches. They’ve got three games and want to make sure they get looks at everyone.
Players of Note
Connor Carrick – D — Carrick is really having himself a camp. I thought he’d have a good chance of making some things happen in his second go-around in Lake Placid and he absolutely has. He’s probably been the most noticeable defenseman on a game-by-game basis. Carrick is jumping into plays offensively, skating the puck out of trouble and his distribution has been mostly phenomenal. He has skill and speed and showed good strength as well. He’s firmly in the mix and probably now favored for a final roster spot.
Riley Barber – F — He took a puck to his ear in the second period, but among Team USA’s forwards, he showed off the most threatening ability. Barber is definitely stronger than he was last year and the skill is increasingly evident. He’s using his speed extremely well also. That kind of creativity is going to help a lot as he’s almost assuredly a top-line wing for this club.
J.T. Compher — F — Playing a more grinding, energetic and defensive role for Team USA, Compher looked to fit that role well. He had a few good scoring chances, was mostly good on the PK and was solid on the forecheck.
Adam Erne — F — He didn’t have a perfect game, but I thought Erne showed glimpses of more of his power game in Wednesday’s action. He was physical on the forecheck, did a good job of establishing a net-front presence and also showed glimpses of his skill with some nice passes. Erne lacked a bit of finish, but I thought he showed he has some versatility that might work well on this team.
Tyler Motte — F — I thought Motte showed some great flashes of what he can bring to the table Wednesday. He played with speed and tenacity, got involved on the forecheck and even played with some physicality despite his small frame. Motte also has some nice skill, which he ngot to show off a bit more today.
Brady Skjei — D — Skjei was a bit less consistent today, but I’ve noticed a difference in his game from last year. He had a few turnovers today, which will need to be cleaned up, but last year, Skjei was turning the puckover because he was so hesitant in his decisions. He’s making this choices quicker, but lacks the finish at this point to make them count. It’s something that should only continue to improve. His skating whether it be up ice or in recovery is such an important quality and he’s making the most of that at least.
Boo Nieves — F — Nieves is another guy that just lacks that little bit of finish that would make him a more deadly player. He showed great skill and speed at times, but it just didn’t result in enough. When it came time to shoot or dish the puck, he really ran out of options. I think there’s a lot more development ahead for him and if he ever puts it all together, he could be extremely productive.
Michael Brodzinski — D — I think it’s the same story with Brodzinski, too. He’s got so much skill and really handles the puck well. I’d like to see him make a few better decisions with the puck, but once he gets to that point, he could be a high-end offensive defenseman. I don’t know that he can do it in time to make this team, but he showed some really good glimpses of it today.
Brett Pesce — D — I think Wednesday was the first day Pesce seemed to be able to deal with the bigger ice surface in his own zone. He was making solid plays defensively and protecting the net-front well. Sweden did most of its damage on the power play, so it was tough to really gauge overall defense for Team USA, but I thought Pesce looked improved.
Thatcher Demko — G — Despite giving up a goal from distance, Demko was mostly solid, playing perhaps his best game in camp so far. He’s got a big body and squares up to everything really well.
Jon Gillies — G — The odds-on favorite to start for Team USA when the games go live in December, Gillies was pretty average like much of Team USA. He didn’t get much help, but I thought his rebound control was a bit lacking and he seemed to fight the puck a bit more than normal.
Stefan Matteau — F — With two penalties on the day, Matteau’s old problem cropped up again. That’s one of the areas of his game that has to get cleaned up or he becomes a liability at the WJC. On top of that, he really hasn’t stood out in any meaningful way, which is more than a little disappointing. He’s better than he’s shown.
Odds and Ends…
— Taylor Cammarata and Michael McCarron were among the standouts in Monday’s action, but were close to invisible on Wednesday. It was slightly disappointing that they weren’t ever able to get much going. I think their ice time dwindled down the stretch a bit as well. It’s not a real concern, but there just wasn’t much about their game that worked today.
— Nic Kerdiles, Riley Barber and Danny O’Regan had several good shifts as a unit. I like the way this line is constructed a lot and I think they could be together at the World Juniors. Getting the reps in camp will help, too. When all three are going at the same time, they’re tough to beat.
— Steven Santini struggled a bit and actually got a four-minute high-sticking penalty after he and Ian McCoshen got caught up ice and struggled to get back as a Swedish forward was moving in on a breakaway. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. Santini was going to lift the forward’s stick from behind, but whiffed and got all face. He’d been really good in the split squad games, but I’d like to see how he fares going forward.
— McCoshen actually showed some really solid puck-moving glimpses Wednesday and there’s a nice maturity about his game that could keep him firmly in the mix for one of the spots on D.
— Will Butcher also had a pretty good game for the most part. He distributes very well, has good vision and I think he’s taking way fewer risks than he used to. It’s been a pleasant surprise.
— We’re at the stage of the camp now where things start materializing in terms of systems and potential WJC line combos, so this part is a little more revelatory into what Don Lucia is thinking for Team USA.
Unfortunately, today’s game really didn’t tell us a whole lot. It was still sloppy as a lot of these guys spent the last week playing with their split-squad teams, so any chemistry that was developed had to start over. The U.S. should hope for better against Finland and we’ll likely see a close look at USA’s future roster when they meet Canada Saturday.
— The U.S. will take on Finland Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. It will be carried live on FASTHockey.com, like all of the games have been.
IVAN HLINKA UPDATE
The U.S. Under-18 Select Team finished group play with a 2-0-1-0 record to win the Piestany Group at the Ivan Hlinka. Team USA sealed the top seed with a 5-2 victory over Slovakia Wednesday and a big 5-3 win over Russia Tuesday.
The U.S. will meet the Czech Republic in the semifinal Friday. If they win, they’ll play for the tournament title against Russia or Canada. It should be a really exciting finish for the tournament.
One of the standout players for Team USA has been Nick Schmaltz, who leads the tournament with six points, including three goals. He’s going to be one of the most watched prospects in the USHL this year, guaranteed.
This has been a wild tournament, with each team losing at least one game. There hasn’t been parity like this in the Hlinka in years, so it’s a great thing for the tournament and the players in it.