MANKATO, Minn. — A roster of hopefuls for the U.S. National Junior Team took on Minnesota State Tuesday night and won by a 3-2 score, with Hudson Fasching scoring a highlight-reel game-winner in extra time.
As could be expected, Team USA looked like a team still learning about itself, but got better as the game wore on. As is the case with this first exhibition and with cuts to make, it was hard to judge Team USA as a whole on their play, but offered plenty of material about the individuals.
Team USA is expected to make three cuts tomorrow morning before the team leaves for Sweden with three to make overseas. The U.S. has two exhibitions yet to play and a final roster decision likely won’t come until closer to Christmas. Don Lucia said there were some injuries that have complicated the process that will have to be reevaluated tomorrow.
The U.S. team was sloppy as could be expected, with a lot of mistakes due to a lack of familiarity or possibly nerves, but some players clearly rose to the opportunity. It’s going to make for some really tough decisions for this U.S. staff, that is for sure.
Goal Summary —
1. Quentin Shore (Jaccob Slavin, Steve Santini), 8:51 of the 2nd. After taking a nice stretch pass from Slavin, Shore broke in with space and ripped a wrister to the top corner to make it 1-1.
2. Ian McCoshen (Stefan Matteau, Tony DeAngelo), 9:03 of the 3rd. After some nice puck movement between Matteau and DeAngelo along the half wall, Matteau popped out and delivered a clean pass to McCoshen who one-timed it through Stephon Williams with Henrik Samuelsson providing the screen.
3. Hudson Fasching (Jaccob Slavin), 3:14 of OT. After taking a long pass from Slavin, Fasching had the defenseman one-on-one and got him turned around. Fasching then put the puck between the D’s legs got around the defender and made one last move to tuck it past.
It’s tough to see from this angle, but NHL Network got footage of the goal from afar. Fasching just barely tucks that in for the win.
Thoughts on Key Performers
Quentin Shore — Shore was one of Team USA’s most reliable and consistent forwards tonight. He made smart plays and found himself in a good position to make plays or to be effective on D. He played on the PK and showed with his shot that he can really fire it. Lucia was very complimentary about Shore who was a top performer in Lake Placid as well.
Jack Eichel — The young forward needed to get his legs under him, but once he did, he became one of Team USA’s biggest threats throughout the game. He finished with three shots and one post. He showed good speed and puck distribution and when he finds his extra gear, he’s tough to contain.
Jaccob Slavin — Finishing with two assists, Slavin was making quick decisions with the puck and long passes that led to goals. Both of his assists were primaries. He plays a really simple game, but is confident with the puck and never once looked to be in the wrong spot or beaten clean. He earned some huge points tonight, you’d have to think.
Hudson Fasching — Fasching’s goal was utterly ridiculous. He had been fighting the puck most of the game, missing plays and not being able to beat defenders. His goal showed creativity and poise to make a huge play in a key situation. He said after the game he had no idea how he was able to keep control and put it in. Luck or not, it was a major league play that erased what had been an average game.
Ian McCoshen — Everything McCoshen does has smoothness and simplicity. It all works. He’s confident on the ice in both zones. He let go the perfect shot for his third-period goal and showed he could be a potential trigger man on the power play. He moves well and makes great plays overall.
Tyler Motte — Motte was relentless in puck pursuit and always seemed to find ways to make plays. He was great on the penalty kill. There were a few sketchy decisions late in the game, but he was mostly strong and showed good speed.
Anthony Stolarz — He gave up one goal, but was really strong in somewhat limited action. He only saw 10 total shots. There was one play, however, where he took away a breakaway chance simply by filling the net and challenging the shooter. The player never got a shot away.
Jon Gillies — Gillies made 11 saves on 12 shots and just keeps things so tight between the pipes. He’s calm and can see through a lot of bodies with his height. He always tried to calm things down in the back end.
Anthony DeAngelo — I thought DeAngelo showed well tonight. He is creative, but did make a few plays that probably wouldn’t work at the WJC. That said, he moves the puck well, has confidence in his skill and made some really nice feeds. Don Lucia said he’d like to see quicker decisions out of DeAngelo, but complimented his high-end skill.
– Right off the top, Adam Erne earned a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a check from behind tonight. If it were anyone else, it would be a footnote, but because Erne recently hit Jonathan Drouin from behind in a QMJHL game, it’s news. My twitter mentions blew up with some angry Q fans.
I will say this about Erne’s hit. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t good because of the situation. Lucia called it a borderline call and said it was clearly not viscious and he’s right. It was a bang-bang play where Erne was providing back pressure and as the player turned to avoid a shoulder check, Erne got him in the numbers. Tough to hold up there.
– J.T. Compher did not play tonight and was walking around in a boot on his foot. He blocked a shot in practice Monday night during PK drills. Lucia said injury concerns may alter the decision process tomorrow and is likely talking about Compher. No one from USAH would confirm the severity of the injury, but a walking boot obviously isn’t a good sign. Compher looked to be in really good position to make the team, too.
– Tommy Di Pauli may have lost a few teeth when either the puck or Jaccob Slavin’s stick caught him in the mouth. Di Pauli was spitting blood on the bench. He did return to action and was very effective for most of the night as a defensive forward.
– The decision on defense is near impossible to predict. All eight that played, played well. Matt Grzelcyk didn’t skate tonight, but that’s because USA Hockey knows what he can do. It’s near impossible to figure out who it could be. Maybe Will Butcher and Anthony DeAngelo are on the block, but that’s a pure guess because they are similar in their skill set.
– At forward, it seemed as though perhaps Vince Hinostroza and Ryan Fitzgerald looked like they may have been over-matched at times. They didn’t play poorly, but it’s just hard to see where they can establish roles. It’s going to be really tough to make decisions at forward though and Compher’s injury could aide Hinostroza’s case. It’s really tough to say as no player played poorly tonight. It’s just a matter of fit at this time.
The decisions will be made tomorrow and I will have some thoughts when those become known. For more updates, follow me on Twitter.