The U.S. found a way to finish the camp on a pretty high note with a 5-1 victory over Canada. Team USA got terrific goaltending from Jon Gillies and found the magic on the power play as well.
The scoreline is a bit deceiving, however. The U.S. did not score a single 5-on-5 goal the entire game. Three came on the power play — two of which were 5-on-3, one was shorthanded and the fifth goal came 4-on-4. At 5-on-5, the U.S. didn’t generate much of anything, which is still a concern that wasn’t eased at all.
The American defense was particularly good, not allowing a ton of chances and giving Gillies some good looks. When there was a breakdown, and there really weren’t many, Gillies stood tall making some incredible stops along the way as well.
The win was great for the U.S., but I don’t know that it made anything clearer in terms of who the best options at this early stage are for the final roster. It makes the first half of the season so important for both the candidates and evaluators.
Coming up after the jump, a scoring summary, Team USA’s lineup for the day and notes on every American who hit the ice Saturday.
Scoring Summary — USA 5 Canada 1
First Period — 1. USA, Barber (Butcher, Carrick), 19:00 (pp); 2. USA, McCoshen (Grzelcyk, Shore), 19:47 (pp).
Second Period — 3. USA, Quentin Shore (Fasching), 13:34 (sh).
Third Period — 4. USA, Shore (Erne, Kerdiles), 5:17 (pp). 5. USA, Matteau (unassisted), 13:21 6. CAN, Reinhart (Petan, Matheson), 14:03.
Goalie Summary (sh/sv)
Jon Gillies (USA) — 24/25
Jake Paterson (CAN) — 20/25
Team USA’s lineup vs. Canada
Matteau – O’Regan – Barber
Kerdiles – Shore – Erne
Stepan – Nieves – Samuelsson
Di Pauli – Copp – Fasching
Butcher – Pesce
Skjei – Carrick
Sieloff – Grzelcyk
McCoshen – Santini
Scratched: J.T. Compher, Tyler Motte, Michael McCarron, Taylor Cammarata, Michael Brodzinski, Connor Clifton and Thatcher Demko
For Canada’s lineup, click here.
Players of Note
Jon Gillies — G — Quite simply the best performance by a U.S. goaltender all week, Gillies looked like the No. 1 he is supposed to be for the first time in camp. He was making all the simple saves he needed to make and some incredibly tough ones as well. Gillies showed off both his ability to take up a ton of net and his athleticism as well. He made several saves in tight and one sensational glove save off a deflection that fluttered in the air, forcing him to reach back (You can watch it here). He was the best player on the ice for either team.
Steven Santini — D — In a game where defense really mattered, Santini appeared to be Team USA’s most reliable in his own zone. It was good too, because Santini really needed a bounceback game after two very average outings against Sweden and Finland. He played a simple, steady game in his own zone, using his frame well and showing a tremendous defensive stick. Santini’s mobility is a huge benefit to his game and really challenges opposing forwards. He also was doing a great job playing physically, with one of his best hits coming against Connor McDavid. Santini stepped up in open ice right at the defensive blueline and just leveled the phenom who is not usually easy to put a body on. It was good to see such a solid performance for a guy who proved to be a defensive expert at the U18 level last year.
Quentin Shore – C — With a pair of goals today, Shore had his most noticeable game of camp, but he really has been doing a lot of little things well all week. Given a chance to center Nic Kerdiles and Adam Erne, two solid offensive players on USA’s second line, Shore showed he might be a fit for Team USA’s hole at center within the top six. He was good at both ends of the ice and showed improved speed and physicality. The hockey sense looked pretty solid too as Shore was making good reads and good decisions with or without the puck. His shorthanded goal was a thing of beauty. His all out effort allowed him to beat first-round pick Derrick Pouliot to a loose puck and with Pouliot draped on him, Shore was able to shake off the obstruction and fire a rocket wrister to the top corner. You really should watch it, and you can right here.
Ian McCoshen — D — Another solid two-way effort from McCoshen makes him look more and more like a prime candidate for a spot on Team USA’s final roster. He scored on a terrific, tough-angle one-timer on a nice feed from Matt Grzelcyk and showed good patience at both ends of the ice. His offensive capabilities seemed to show better than what he can do in his own end, but both aspects of his game were adequate. He has good size and mobility and I think there’s a spot for him if he maintains his play int he first half of the season. Most important of all, I saw very little panic in McCoshen’s game. With the high pace of the World Juniors, that calm presence can go a long way.
Matt Grzelcyk — D — I thought Grzelcyk had his best game of the camp overall against Canada and showed all of the elements that make him a standout performer. Grzelcyk is such a heady player and he made some solid plays. He assisted on McCoshen’s ppg with a terrific pass and set up Quentin Shore’s second goal by making a risky poke check at the offensive blueline to spring Adam Erne loose. Those quick reactions and quick thinking separate him from most of the other defensemen in camp. His size isn’t really a concern as it never seemed to be in camp. He’s a smart player and should be an important cog for Team USA going forward.
Will Butcher — D — After a really solid overall camp, I thought Butcher showed good skill and offensive capabilities again Saturday against Canada. He set up Barber’s power-play goal on a terrific feed and was moving the puck well most of the game. Canada’s forecheck did offer some more challenges to him today, and there were a few poor decisions with the puck under pressure, but Butcher continued to state his case for a spot on the final roster. His D play looked mostly fine, but his puck-moving game looked high-end for most of camp.
Adam Erne — RW — He had a pretty inconsistent game today, but he had some really great moments where he was extremely effective. After two quiet periods, Erne came alive in the third and made a beautiful pass of his backhand to Shore for his second goal of the game. It was a high-skill play. He also used his body pretty well, but again, he was inconsistent. If he can put together a complete game, he’d be one of Team USA’s best forwards for sure. Since it’s only August, there’s reason to believe the best will be coming mid-season as he gets into the full swing of a season.
Hudson Fasching — RW — To me, he’s the surprise of the camp. Fasching showed that he can do things at both ends of the ice that would be valuable at the World Junior level. In a defensive, fourth-line type role against Canada, he excelled in his own end and was able to make a few plays near the net utilizing his big frame. The puck skills still need work, but if Fasching can bring a defensive, grinding element to his game, he could be a fourth-line guy on the final roster. There’s a lot of time left, but Fasching put himself in such a good position after this week.
Riley Barber — RW — Barber scored the game’s first goal on a terrific one-time shot from the left faceoff circle. He had instances where he’d disappear a bit, which is somewhat of a concern. That said, he showed a lot of flashes of top-end speed and skill that will position him to be a top-line wing. The consistency issues are less concerning in August, but the staff will want to see Barber put together some better games. There were a few glimpses against Canada where Barber was threatening. For the role he’ll be required to play, he’s going to have to be a threat on almost every shift. Goals will be hard to come by for this club.
Connor Carrick — D — Another pleasant surprise in camp, Carrick was solid in just about every game he played. The same was true for Saturday. Carrick might have actually had one of his better games defensively against Canada, while he showed more offensive flashes in other games. He had a good defensive stick, was making good reads and recovering well. He still moved the puck just fine and showed his good physical strength and skating throughout.
Patrick Sieloff — D — Despite one unnecessary penalty, Sieloff was overall solid on defense. He played physically, pretty much kept everything in front of him and mostly kept things simple. Sieloff’s mobility looks to be improved and his puck-moving capabilities are at a more adequate level to be effective against the elite teams the U.S. will face.
Thomas Di Pauli — LW — I thought Di Pauli stated a strong case over the last few days to play in a shutdown role at forward. He, along with Andrew Copp and Hudson Fasching made for extremely reliable defensive forwards who could play on the penalty kill and make thing difficult for their counterparts. One of Di Pauli’s best plays came on the PK, when seconds after Jon Gillies made a remarkable stop, Di Pauli dove to thwart a wide-open point shot. Those are the types of things he has to do to make the team and he left a good last impression.
Andrew Copp — C — Copp did a lot of the same things well that Di Pauli did. He played physically, was good on the forecheck and killed penalties extremely well. He’s going to have to be a grind-it-out physical presence to make the team. Copp has just enough skill to probably pop in a point here or there, but his value lies in his ability shut down top lines.
Danny O’Regan — C — O’Regan’s camp had its ups and downs and the same can be said for Saturday’s games. He showed flashes of good skill and offensive sense to be the producer he’ll need to be for this squad, but not necessarily enough to prove he’s the team’s best option as it’s top center. With Alex Galchenyuk likely unavailable, O’Regan’s the front runner to key USA’s top line. He had a few nice rushes Saturday, but there will need to be more from him going forward. Either way, I think he still makes the final roster.
Nic Kerdiles — LW — Playing with Shore and Erne was a good thing for Kerdiles as this line started putting things together late. He’s played better when with O’Regan and Barber, but I think Kerdiles showed some good two-way capabilities and had some good flashe sin the offensive zone. Kerdiles has good physical strength and is able to get to the tougher areas of the ice. I’d like to see a little more finish from him in terms of passing and shooting, but he’s got the goods to be a top-six winger for this team.
Brady Skjei — D — Skjei played such a simple, quiet game, but he was extremely effective in his own end. There wasn’t as much offensive stuff from Skjei today, in terms of moving the puck off the rush and jumping into the offensive zone, which was fine. Canada’s possession abilities at 5-on-5 really dictated a need for steady defense and that’s what Skjei provided, as he has most of the camp.
Brett Pesce — D — Pesce wasn’t very noticeable either, but he looked like he’s figuring out the pace of the WJC a bit more. That will be his challenge to make the team. Can he think the game at a high enough level and make those split-second decisions to keep up with the elite skill that will be thrown at him? He did just enough in camp, but Pesce still has some development ahead.
Stefan Matteau — LW — Matteau’s last statement of the camp was, luckily for him, a sniped wrist shot off the rush that ended up as Team USA’s fifth goal. Aside from that, however, he was mostly invisible and had been for much of camp. He had a few good glimpses in the third including the goal, but his play probably makes the USA staff a bit uneasy. He was given a chance to play on the top line with Barber and O’Regan and it didn’t really change much about his effectiveness. The goal was good, but Matteau leaves camp with most everyone hoping for more.
Henrik Samuelsson — RW — Samuelsson needed to have a statement game against Canada and really didn’t. There’s just not been anything that has stood out about him aside from a few really nice skill plays. He took another careless penalty and the footwork was always an issue. When Samuelsson is at his best, I really enjoy a lot of things about his game and he’s got the skill to produce. There just wasn’t much of anything exciting in Saturday’s game or all week from him.
Dominic Toninato — C/W — As the 13th forward today, Toninato didn’t get much time, but when he was out there, he looked a bit overmatched. The speed and skill, along with the physicality of Canada seemed to hide Toninato in the background. He’s had a pretty good camp and didn’t get much run Saturday, so that made it a little tougher to see what he can bring.
Zach Stepan — LW — Playing primarily on the third line, with Nieves and Samuelsson, Stepan didn’t really standout much at all. I think he’s done better when he’s asked to do more things defensively. That third line was used sparingly and it’s somewhat tough to see what kind of role Stepan could play on the final roster. He’ll need a big first half to remain in contention, I think.
Boo Nieves — C — Like most games, Nieves would flash something really good at one minute and fade away the next. At his size, speed and skill level, he really shouldn’t be one to fade into the background. I like it better when he’s on wing and can focus more on the offensive side, but mostly at center Saturday, there wasn’t a ton that stood out about him. I still believe his potential is off the charts, but he’s got a long way to go to get close to it. If he ever hits it, I think he could be really something.
Odds and Ends
– The fourth line of Di Pauli, Copp and Fasching looked like it could be the fourth line on the final roster. They played a grinding, defensive style that made it tough on other forwards and all three did quite well on the penalty kill. Every team needs role players and these guys showed, at least this week, they can play that role if called upon.
— The power play was outstanding at 5-on-3. I particularly liked the puck movement from Matt Grzelcyk and Will Butcher, who played on separate units. They each had primary assists on 5-on-3 PPGs. I think Grzelcyk will be a top four guy for the final roster, but Butcher stated a case to be a sixth or seventh defenseman and be more of a power-play specialist.
— With the eight guys Team USA dressed on defense today, I think that was their top defensive lineup. They’ll probably only take seven D and 13 forwards on the final roster, but I think the eight you saw Saturday were the eight with the strongest chance of making the team, assuming both Jacob Trouba and Seth Jones aren’t magically loned to Team USA.
— The forward lineup was probably not the optimal forward lineup however. I wondered if the U.S. would go with the best guys from the camp to date against Canada, but Lucia told reporters Friday he would not be putting their very best out there in lieu of getting more eval time for guys on the bubble. So if a forward you were following was scratched today, fear not.
— One of the biggest and probably most frustrating issues in camp was penalty problems for the U.S. Some of those penalties were from stupid decisions, but a lot of them were bad stick penalties because a player made a bad read or got out-skilled. That’s where there should be a concern, even in August. There’s definitely a skill deficiency in this U.S. lineup and I don’t think there’s a player in the age group outside of Alex Galchenyuk that is going to fix it.
— Canada also had a lot of good players scratched, but their forward lineup included a ton of skill, particularly among Connor McDavid, Sam Reinhart and Hunter Shinkaruk, who at times were giving the U.S. fits. Reinhart scored Canada’s lone goal and it was a terrific shot after the U.S. got caught sleeping defensively.
The Canadians dominated the first period until the last minute when the U.S. scored those two 5-on-3 goals. That really changed the tide of the game and if not for Gillies throughout portions of the second period, it could’ve been quite different. Canada will have a very good roster when December rolls around.
— The U.S. has a real problem when it comes to skill level with the group they have. There isn’t a go-to goal scorer or line that is going to be able to get those goals when the team needs them most. It’s going to have to be a team that out-works opponents and even then, it might not be enough. I’ll have a complete recap of the camp on Monday, with thoughts like these and one last look at each player as well as taking a blind stab at a way-too-early-and-sure-to-be-wrong roster projection. So stay tuned for that.
Thanks for following all of the coverage of the 2013 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp. World Junior coverage is a half-year kind of thing here at USofH, so expect more pieces as the season progresses as well. For now, let’s get back to summer.