If you hadn’t heard yet, the team made up of U.S. National Junior Team hopefuls lost to RPI, 4-3, in a 12-round shootout last night. Some people might be wondering what to make of this. I say, it really doesn’t matter.
You can draft a bunch of excuses, but none of those really matter either. At the end of the day, this is an exhibition game being used to determine a roster for something a whole heck of a lot bigger. In other words, its part of the process.
Since I was unable to watch last night’s contest, I’ll keep my thoughts on the game brief and move on to some other news.
Some of the bright spots last night included a two-goal effort from University of Michigan’s Chris Brown. I thought Brown might be on the outside looking in at the start of this, but his efforts last night help him out big time. One thing I didn’t mention about Brown in our camp preview was that he does have a fair amount of skill. He also has a very nice shot. That makes him more versatile than a crash and bang guy. As I mentioned, though, Brown can be penalty prone and he took two last night. Still, he becomes more of a player to watch with a two-goal game.
The fact that last night’s game went to a shootout is actually quite important. The fact that it went 12 rounds is even better. If you’ve followed Team USA for a while, you know about how games decided by a shootout can be. Team USA was just one goal away from going to the Gold Medal game in 2007. It will forever go down in history as the Toews Game. Just watch the video, I don’t want to relive that in print.
Don’t forget that last year’s New Year’s Eve game against Canada where Team USA lost, costing itself a bye to the semifinals. Team USA hasn’t had much luck in World Juniors shootouts, so getting that practice and getting a look at who you can count on in the shootout helps. For the record, Jason Zucker scored twice, while Rocco Grimaldi and Drew Shore each scored once for Team USA.
Other stats: Emerson Etem led the team with seven shots and had Team USA’s other goal. Nick Leddy was a plus-3 for the game, while Adam Clendening finished plus-2. Rocco Grimaldi played center and finished at a minus-2, but scored on one of two attempts in the shootout. Brock Nelson recorded assists on both of Brown’s goals. Jack Campbell made 12 saves in 31:58 of work. Andy Iles made four saves in regulation, and thwarted seven chances in the shootout. Team USA went 0-4 on the power play, which isn’t alarming, seeing as special teams tends to suffer when playing with an unfamiliar group. Team USA allowed no shots in overtime and just four in the third period.
Last note on last night’s game, here are the lines Team USA started with, via the USA Hockey World Junior’s Blog:
Brickley – Bjugstad – Etem
Zucker – Shore – Callahan
D’Amigo – Grimaldi – Nieto
Saad – Nelson – Brown
Oleksiak – Leddy
Forbort – Wey
Dumoulin – Clendening
I wouldn’t read too much into those, but its nice to take a look at what the coaches might be thinking.
News out of USA Hockey today is that Team USA’s final roster will be released, as hoped, on Wednesday, December 22. The roster will be unveiled on USA Hockey’s Facebook page at 9:10 a.m. EST. Unlike last year, there will be no first and second cuts, just one big one.
If you aren’t already, be sure to follow @USAH_AlexClark and @JulieRobenhymer on Twitter for camp coverage. Alex is the USA Hockey PR manager, who does all of the media work for the Juniors. Julie writes for Hockey Buzz and has been on the ground tweeting regularly about the happenings in New York.
Team USA will play an exhibition game Tuesday night against the Czech Republic in Rochester. Pay close attention to the lineup. I’d expect to see a few guys get a do-over from yesterday and not see some of those for-sure locks playing. The U.S. will have one more exhibition game after the final cut, so the whole team will have time to work out the kinks.
Tuesday night’s contest should be spirited. It’s going to be the last chance for some of those guys to prove they belong.
Lastly, I just want to say thanks to the folks that have linked to the blog in the past week and all of you for reading. I started this blog to help people get the info they crave about USA Hockey and the response has been tremendous. We’ll keep it going here even after the World Juniors are over. There’s a lot to talk about in the coming months about American hockey.
More World Junior coverage coming later today, so stay tuned.