Disappointed Americans show promise
For the second straight summer, the United States came back from Central Europe empty handed after competing at the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial.
The team went 0-2-0-1 in the round robin, but won their final game to capture seventh place out of eight nations at the six-day tournament.
Though the Americans struggled as a whole, many of the team’s top 2013 NHL draft eligible players had impressive tournaments. Adam Erne lead the team in scoring with four goals and three assists in four games including two goals and one assist against Slovakia in the Seventh Place Game. Gabe Guertler also had impressive tournament with three goals and three assists.
While the vast majority of the players playing in this year’s tournament are 2013 NHL eligible, some are not eligible until 2014 because of birthdays after the NHL-imposed September cutoff. Anthony DeAngelo, who was one of the six 2014 eligible players to make the US team, had an impressive tournament. After a forgettable U17 5 Nations Tournament with the USA last summer, DeAngelo was stellar defensively and tallied six assists in the tournament.
Fellow 2014 eligible Thatcher Demko also played well, appearing in all four of the Americans’ games. The San Diego, Calif. native recorded a 2.28 goals against average and a .895 save percentage in just over three and a half games of play. Demko finished last season with the Omaha Lancers but will play for the National Team Development Program’s U18 team this season after being added to the program in June.
The Select 17 team has struggled the last two tournaments including a fifth place finish in last year’s Ivan Hlinka. At the 2010 tournament, a team consisting of John Gaudreau and Vince Trocheck won silver after losing to Canada 1-0 in the Gold Medal Game.
The struggles come in part to USA Hockey sending what many believe to be a second tier team to the Ivan Hlinka every August. Traditionally, the United States does not take any of their National Team Development Program members. Instead, USA Hockey selects junior and high school players from USA Hockey’s Select 17 Camp which takes place in June.
While last year’s team struggled, the team of ’94 birth years saw nine of the 19 total eligible players get drafted at the 2012 NHL Draft including Alex Galchenyuk, who went third overall, and Cristoval Nieves and Sam Kurker who went in the second round.
Will this year’s USA team bounce back and have individual success like last year’s team? Only time will tell. 16 of the players on this year’s roster are eligible to be drafted in New Jersey come June.
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