Team USA cut its roster to 27 at the National Junior Evaluation Camp on Tuesday morning. Before the cuts, the camp invitees had been broken up into Blue and White teams to scrimmage. Both teams scrimmage three times, including once against each other. The Blue team went 2-1 beating the White team and Finland, and losing only to Sweden. The White team was not able to squeeze out a win despite making an attempt at a late comeback against Sweden fueled by 16 year old Auston Matthews.
Clint Lewis- Lewis, a defenseman who played for the White team, had a goal in the scrimmage against USA Blue. His name was mentioned a few times on the defensive end, but it wasn’t enough to survive the cut. Lewis plays for Cornell University, and in his freshman season, he had one goal and one assist.
Ian McCoshen- McCoshen is another defenseman who played on the Blue team. Although he failed to register a point in any of the three scrimmages, he played well above par defense. It has been reported that he was sent home for precautionary reasons, and he is expected to make the final roster in December. He made the World Junior team last season.
Mike McCarron- McCarron, a forward, did not have a point in the three scrimmages, but he did fairly well last season with the London Knights of the OHL. He was taken 25th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. If he has a good first half this season with the Knights, he may sneak onto the final roster.
All four goalies- Thatcher Demko, Brendan Burke, Evan Cowley, and Brandon Halverson were all kept on the final camp roster. None of the four goalies played exceptionally well, as they all had a bad game at one point. Of the four, Brendan Burke of the Portland Winterhawks performed the best, putting up a 2.36 Goals Against Average. The poor goalie performance could be a problem come December.
Auston Matthews- Although I put him in the category of “notable keeps”, it is not because I don’t think he under-performed in camp. It is actually the opposite. Matthews’ play so far in camp may have already earned him a spot on the US World Junior Championship team, which is an Under-20 tournament. Matthews is 16! He had 2 goals in the USA White comeback effort vs Sweden. The two goals don’t come close to explaining how well he played during the camp. He was seemingly all over the ice with and without the puck. Matthews will not be eligible to enter the NHL Entry Draft until 2016.
Sonny Milano leads all “campers” with 5 points. Milano was switched from the Blue team to the White team on the second day of camp to “add a little competitive balance”. He was arguably the best all-around forward in the first three scrimmages with 2 goals and 3 assists. There are four other players who currently have 3 points. Dylan Larkin (2-1), Tyler Motte (1-2), Will Butcher (1-2), and J.T. Compher with 3 assists.
As mentioned earlier, Brendan Burke has the best GAA with 2.36. He had a shutout performance in the Blue vs White scrimmage, in which he only played the first half.
The final roster will now play three more scrimmages to complete camp, the final scrimmage being against the Czech Republic on Saturday. The final roster that the camp has presented will not be the exact team that will represent the USA in the World Junior Championship. USA Hockey will hold a training camp in mid-December to determine the official final roster.
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