Coming into the World Under-18 Championship, there was concern about the ability of this U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team’s ability to score goals. Those doubts were fairly quickly quashed at the tournament and Team USA scored 27 goals in just six games en route to its fourth consecutive gold medal.
What made the 27 goals more impressive was that the U.S. had only one instance where a player had a multi-goal game (Nic Kerdiles scored two in the gold-medal game). In five of the six games, the U.S. got each goal from a different player. That kind of balance is hard to come by.
Coming up after the jump, a look at each of Team USA’s 13 forwards coming out of the World Under-18 Championship.
Editor’s Note: All players 2012 NHL Entry Draft eligible unless otherwise noted.
Riley Barber — After leading the U.S. National Under-18 Team in goal scoring during the regular-season, Barber was expected to produce. Though he only put up one goal and three points, Barber generated many scoring chances. He has pretty good speed and puck skills and found ways to get to the net. Though he only scored one goal, it was a huge one against Canada in the prelim round, allowing the U.S. to head into the lockeroom tied with the Canadians after 40 minutes. It was a huge turning point in the game. Barber’s size is going to scare off a few teams, but he is undoubtedly a mid-round talent. Committed to Miami University.
J.T. Compher — The 1995-born center was a revelation in the tournament. His high-energy style, speed and grit make him a versatile threat. Not only does he possess the qualities of an energy-line type player, he also has offensive touch. Compher scored two goals, each coming in big games. He scored Team USA’s first goal in the semifinal against Canada and its third in the gold-medal game against Sweden. Compher has a good shot and decent enough puck skills, but he creates with his power and speed. His forechecking led to a few U.S. goals and his line with Frankie Vatrano and Matt Lane was probably Team USA’s most consistent in the tournament. It’s hard to believe Compher was an under-ager with the way he played this year. Draft eligible in 2013. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Andrew Copp — Copp posted just one assist in the tournament, but played extremely well in defensive situations and on the penalty kill. Copp is a tenacious player, who can fly up and down the ice. He has good strength and does a lot of the little things right. He’s able to block shots and get in lanes and was really sound at the faceoff circle. So good, in fact, he led the tournament with a 65.4 percent success rate on draws. Due to the lack of pure offensive talent, his draft prospects remain low, but he’s developed into a very strong defensive forward. Uncommitted.
Cam Darcy — Despite not producing a point at the tournament, Darcy was very effective in other ways. He was good along the walls and winning puck battles. He played sound defensive hockey and was a factor in Team USA’s aggressive forechecking. Darcy has pretty good size and strength and plays a very meat-and-potatoes-style game. His skating needs some work and his offensive inconsistencies may be a concern, but he does have some decent skills and should still find himself drafted in the later-middle rounds. Committed to Northeastern University.
Thomas Di Pauli — Di Pauli had a somewhat quiet tournament offensively, but if you only looked at statistics, it wouldn’t tell you how well he played in Brno. Di Pauli scored just once, the first goal in the gold-medal game no less. Despite that less-than-appealing statline, Di Pauli will garner a lot of attention for his ability in the possession game. He has outstanding puck skills and is a gifted puck protector. When the U.S. needed to get sustained possession in the offensive zone, Di Pauli delivered. He has a big enough frame to protect the puck, and great foot-work down low to keep possession. He was spinning away from checks and pressure along the half-wall, operating like a one-man cycle at times. He has good defensive awareness and as his game continues to grow, so will the points. Committed to the University of Notre Dame.
Ryan Hartman — This was the breakout tournament for Ryan Hartman. A very gifted offensive player that just couldn’t get the numbers up in the regular-season, became a point-per-game player at the World Under-18s. Playing with Nic Kerdiles and Danny O’Regan didn’t hurt, but Hartman did a lot of creating of his own. Hartman has tremendous vision and was finding seams and open teammates. He has strong pucks skills, good speed and gets pucks to the net. Hartman played physically (ending up as Team USA’s most penalized player by far), but really shined when working in the offensive zone. He posted two goals and had four assists. Draft eligible in 2013. Committed to Miami University .
Nic Kerdiles — Kerdiles finished as Team USA’s leading scorer after his five-point performance in the gold-medal game. Kerdiles ended up with nine points (4g-5a) and looked every bit the first-rounder in Brno. He’s not a very flashy player, but Kerdiles uses his size well and has tremendous speed. He can get up and down the ice and be a factor in all zones. Kerdiles goes hard to the net and puts himself in the good scoring areas. His first of two goals in the gold-medal game put the dagger in Sweden. He has a good shot and good enough puck skills, but his size and speed are what put him in Top-30 consideration. Committed to the University of Wisconsin.
Matthew Lane — If you didn’t know much about Lane before, you better start learning. He was named one of Team USA’s best three players at the tournament and was more than deserving of that honor. Lane posted seven points (3g-4a), but was so much more than that. With his strong forechecking and ability to win just about every puck battle he was in shows that he can be a force. Lane’s speed is his standout tool. He might be Team USA’s fastest forward. He’s not just fast though, as he knows how to use his speed to generate offense. Lane’s line with J.T. Compher and Frankie Vatrano had a lot to do with Team USA’s success at the tournament. It is likely that Lane jumped up a round or two with his play at the U18 Worlds. Committed to Boston University.
Anthony Louis — This tournament may have been a brief preview of what’s to come from this diminutive 1995-born forward. Despite standing at 5-6, 132, Louis has no fear. He gets to the hard areas and while he doesn’t have the strength to win a lot of battles, he has the competitiveness to at least make it tough. Though he only posted one assist, Louis showed tremendous puck skills and speed. He can slip around defenders and make a lot of plays you don’t expect him to be able to make. There is a creativity factor about Louis that makes him so fun to watch. When he’s in an established role next year, he should be a huge contributor to Team USA’s drive for five. Draft eligible in 2013. Committed to Miami University.
Daniel O’Regan — The lone non-NTDP player on the roster may have been the biggest surprise of the tournament. O’Regan has some incredible puck skills and creativity and may have been Team USA’s best center at the tournament. O’Regan had four points including a dazzling goal against Sweden’s Oscar Dansk in which the American forward put his skills on display. After picking up a loose puck, O’Regan skated in and deked Dansk out of his jock before stuffing it five-hole. O’Regan has a high upside because of his puck skills and good hockey sense. As he builds strength, he could become an offensive force. Committed to Boston University.
Kyle Osterberg — Despite limited action in the tournament, Osterberg played pretty effective shifts throughout. Though he lacks size, Osterberg has really good speed and improving puck skills. His wraparound goal against Canada, which stood to be the game-winner in the semifinals, was a good example of how Osterberg’s speed can be deadly. Osterberg can be a pest on the ice and drew a few penalties as a result. He may not get drafted, but should be a very strong college player due to his terrific speed. There could be a spot for him in the pros one day. Committed to the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Quentin Shore — The third Shore brother to play in the World U18 Championship, Quentin lived up to the family name. Brothers Nick and Drew each had quite a bit of success at this tournament, but Quentin kept up. He scored three goals, all of which came from a good distance. Shore has a terrific shot and while foot-speed may be an issue, he has good size and a natural scoring ability. Because of that, he should be a mid-round pick. There is a fair amount of upside to Shore as he should continue to round out his game over the next few years and be an impact player in college. Committed to the University of Denver.
Frankie Vatrano — As part of the line with Matt Lane and J.T. Compher, Vatrano was able to make a pretty significant impact for Team USA. He posted a pair of goals and two assists. Vatrano moves well for a kid of his size and plays a pretty physical game. He had several big hits in the tournament, but his standout tool is absolutely his shot. He’s good shooting off the pass and has a rocket for a wrister, with a very quick release. As his accuracy improves, so should his numbers. He has sniper potential. Committed to Boston College.
Coming soon, a look at Team USA’s dominant defensemen and goaltenders.