With the World Junior A Challenge in full swing, another event has flown under the radar in Lake Placid, New York. The Under-18 Four Nations tournament got underway yesterday. The National Team Development Program defeated Switzerland Tuesday 4-2. Last night, they defeated Finland in a shootout 5-4.
This tournament is being shown on the USA Hockey Website. I caught the final two periods of the Finland games and it was an entertaining contest. The Star of the game in my eyes was Mikael Grunlund of Finland. The play making abilities this kid has is unbelievable. He had three assists. He will be draft eligible in 2010. I don't have him listed in my Players to Watch for 2010 but he's going in that category. His line mate Toni Rajala had two goals which were set up Grunlund.
For the Americans, Brandon Maxwell likes to play the puck. Some points he almost cost the team because of his aggressive play. He acted like a third defenseman out there. I was just waiting him to breakout like this goaltender.
Cam Fowler can skate. He caught I believe Rajala on a short handed breakaway. I have heard he's isn't that physical. I couldn't really tell if he shyed was from the physical play.
Jeremy Morin and Drew Shore had pretty good games. Morin had a shootout goal. The combo was back together. From the webcast, it seems like they put on different lines for the last few weeks. Kyle Palmieri was used on the point on powerplays. He has a good shot already.
Overall you can see that there's chemistry on the Under-18 team. Everybody worked together. They were their best when they were on a 5-3 penalty kill which seemed went on for most of the second period. Jerry D'Amigo checked a Finnish player into the boards and got a five minute major and a game misconduct. It was no intention to injury but it was a nasty spill. The player skated off under his own power. USA had two minor penalties within that five minutes. The game was tied a 4 at that point but were able to kill all the penalties off.
USA plays Sweden tomorrow at 4pm. Go to USA Hockey to catch the webcast or the audiocast.
The Under 17 team is in Switzerland for their 4 Nations tournament. They defeated the host country in an exhibition 5-0 yesterday.
The Going Five Hole Blog is reporting that the NHL Network will be showing Team USA's Games at the World Junior Championships in Ottawa this year. This is very good news that USA's games will be on TV. I am assuming they will be picking up the Medal Round again this year. I think they should go ahead and pick up Canada's games also. If not there are ways to find the games on the internet.
That's My Take
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)