Blog contributor and New York Times automotive writer Neal Boudette was at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., throughout the World Junior Summer Showcase. Here are his final reports, along with related news:
Harper: Pride in Beating Canada
Sophomore Patrick Harper scored a goal and set up another in the USA win against Canada, and played on the point on power plays. His skill with the puck created the first American goal, in the first period with the man advantage, when he stickhandled into the circle and fed Joey Anderson for a redirect.
“Joey and I talked about that play before the game, so it was definitely something we were looking out for,” Harper said. “Just a high tip. Joey just presents his stick in the middle and then I try to pass the puck under the d-man’s stick and luckily something good happens, and it did.”
In the third period, he scored a key goal, weaving through the Canadian defense and picking to far corner.
“I just caught the puck off the boards in an awkward position for the defenseman, and then found some time and space and just got it to the net,” Harper said. “I was trying to go far side so, luckily in went in for me.”
Harper collected two goals and five assists in six showcase games. The talk around the team is he’ll almost certainly be selected for the USA junior team in December.
“I thought I played all right. It’s a good bench mark. I always want to win when I put on the [USA] sweater and we won the majority of our games,” Harper said. “It’s good to see all these guys in the summer and have an idea what the team will look like come December.”
He added that the USA players took great pride in beating their rivals from north of the border in the event’s final game. “Even though this game was in the middle of the summer, it meant a lot in our locker room and hopefully we can keep it rolling in Buffalo,” he said. “It’s the rivalry between US and Canada. Whenever you have those two teams facing off, we always want to win.”
Harper will spend a few weeks at home in Connecticut and then head to Boston to start classes and workouts with his Terrier teammates.
For Tkachuk, the Tests Keep Coming
From the intensity of the World Junior Summer Showcase, and the U.S. facing Canada, Brady Tkachuk is going right into another pressure packed situation.
“I’ve got three exams in five days when I get back in Boston. So hopefully I’ll do well on all of those,” he said Saturday night after picking up two assists in at hard-fought 7-5 win over Canada.
The Terrier recruit finished the showcase with a goal and four assists, with his whole family – including father Keith, the Terrier legend, and brother Matt, the Flames wing — looking on. “I don’t get to see them often since I’m in Boston, so it’s pretty special,” he said.
He is expecting his father to drop in at Agganis a number of times during the coming season. The second Monday of the Beanpot will be a Tkachuk family reunion.
“The whole family’s coming down. Brother is playing Boston the Tuesday after the second Beanpot Monday, so he’ll be able to be there, too,” Brady said. “So pretty excited for the year to get started.”
Cockerill: Motzko Likes The Energy
A seventh-round pick of the Islanders, Logan Cockerill is one of the lower draftees skating for the USA team at the World Junior Summer Showcase. But his speed and tenacity forechecking and backchecking has made a strong impression. And he’s shown an ability to create scoring chances for himself and his linemates.
In my opinion, he deserves very serious consideration for the junior team. He could add speed and some scoring potential to a third or fourth line, and bring some energy to the penalty kill.
Here’s what Coach Bob Motko had to say about the BU recruit:
“Tremendous energy. He jumps on pucks. You notice when his jersey’s flapping and he’s going to put pressure on the other team. There’s spots for guys like him.”
Kotkonsalo: In Good Hands at BU, Draper Says
Red Wings scout Kris Draper likes what he sees in Kasper Kotkonsalo, and thinks the Finnish blueliner is well positioned to develop in college hockey:
“We like his hockey sense. We like the way he defends. He’s got a good stick and for a Finnish defenseman to come over – he played in the USHL, he obviously made a commitment that he wanted to go to school – you like seeing that. You like seeing him have a goal and go all in. We’re looking forward to seeing him play. But the things we like about Kasper are the way he can skate, a good first pass, he moves the puck, he defends well.
“If he’s OK with it, we’re OK with it. BU’s done a pretty good job. We don’t get involved in the choices where the players want to play. He obviously made that decision before we drafted him. We’re looking forward to getting him to BU. Playing a college schedule, he’s going to have an opportunity to get bigger and stronger, the way they’re going to train, the way the schedule’s set up. That’s something that Kasper talked about that he needs and is looking forward to. He made that choice and we support that choice and look forward to seeing him play at BU.”
A Late Arrival, Farrance Turns Heads With Coast to Coast Goal
The highlight goal of the World Junior Summer Showcase came from a guy who wasn’t even supposed to be there.
It came Friday night when defenseman David Farrance wheeled around the USA goal with speed and galloped up the ice. He blew through Finland’s defense before deking the goalie. Talk about clutch — the USA had been outplayed and was probably lucky to be in a 3-3 tie. Farrance’s Bobby Orr act gave the Americans the lead with 6:10 remaining.
“Saw an opening through the middle and took it to the net,” Farrance deadpanned after the game.
“I looked at my options first. Just saw open ice right up the middle. The puck was wobbling a little bit, so it was easy to flip up over a couple sticks. I just tried to go as fast as I can and use my speed through the middle.” The end-to-end dash earned ESPN’s #1Top Play of the Day designation.
Farrance, a 2017 Predators draft pick, was initially left off the roster of 40-plus players brought here to represent the U.S. In my view, he should have been there from the beginning. I saw him play more than a dozen times at NTDP last year. He’s got great skating ability, and adds an offensive dimension when he rushes the puck or joins the play. He’s secure with the puck in his own zone and defends well.
I think he’s every bit as good as the otehr NTDP defensemen who were invited – Quinn Hughes, Phil Kemp, Tyler Inamoto – and often better.
But when the event got under way, Farrance was in Boston, working out with other BU freshman last Saturday. Then Chad Krys had tweaked his shoulder and Inamoto suffered what appeared to be a concussion, and a call came summoning Farrance to Michigan.
Last Sunday, Farrance took a 7 a.m. flight, landed at 9:30 and was on the ice for a 4 p.m. game against Sweden.
“It was not too hard of a turn around. It was good to play that first night against Sweden and get right into the swing of things, right off the plane. You’ve been playing hockey all you life, so yiou get thrown into a game and you just play,” he said.
After limited action against Sweden, Farrance suited up as USA White took on Canada and he picked up two assists in an 8-2 win. He was a +3 on the night.
The coaches elected to keep Farrance for the rest of the showcase. He sat out a game against Sweden before returning for the Finland game and his coast to coast rush. “I’m just happy to be here now and be around such a great group of hockey players and I’m pretty thankful for the opportunity they’ve given me,” he said.
Farrance also said he’s pumped about the coming season with the Terriers.
“We’ve got a lot of older guys with a lot of experience. A lot of great guys. The new guys I’m coming in with like Brady and Logan and Shane Bowers, it’s a good group to be coming in with,” he said.
He knows he’s going to have to work to earn ice time – BU will have seven drafted defensemen on its roster. “I’m going to just work my hardest, try to find my way into the line up every night. Just play my game and sneak into the line-up,” he said. “I think it helps a lot. You develop most in practice. You’re going against some of the best players in the world and that can only help you. I think that will transfer over to games.”
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