Here is my final installement of the evaluation camp from Lake Placid.
Game 3: Canada 1 USA 5
USA notables for Flames fans:
This game was a in stark contrast to the previous two Canadian tilts. The previous two teams (Finland and Sweden) went right at Team Canada, but the Americans played more of a physical, defensive, counter-punching style.
The first period was pretty boring for the most part with Canada holding an edge in play and Patrick Sieloff and Jon Gillies both standing out as defensive stalwarts, especially on two early Canadian powerplays.
With less than two minutes left in the first Canada got into penalty trouble, and went down two men when Matheson took the first of six slashing calls handed out to both teams over the course of the game. The Americans capitalized quickly with Canadian goalie Jake Patterson unable to track a shot from the point.
Seventeen seconds after the Americans scored, Bo Horvat took a penalty for holding, which was initially speculated to be delay of game for covering the puck. It was a strange call, but the Americians made short work of the second two man advantage taking a 2-0 lead with just thirteen seconds left in the period. Canada outshot team USA 10-8, with many of the shots for both teams coming on the PP.
In the second stanza the Americans took four straight minor penalties, but it was team USA who scored a shorthanded goal to make it 3-0 when Hudson Fasching outskated and out muscled Derrick Pouliot to gain possession of the puck and scored on a spin-around shot from the slot. I felt Patterson had to stop that shot to keep his team in the game. I have not been impressed with Canada's defensmen throughout the tourny and this game was no exception. Canada outshot USA 10-4 in the period largely on the strength of power play shots, but Gillies shut the door.
The third period was full of penalties, most of which were handed out to Canada, and many were strange calls. Monahan took a slashing penalty under four minutes into the third period for knocking the stick out of an American's hands. There were several penalties of this nature called on both teams which you would never see called in the CHL or even college.
However the Americans took advantage of the opportunity again scoring their 4th special teams goal of the game. By this time the US was in control of the the game and overpowering Canada with their suffocating defense and speedy counter attack. Stefan Matteau scored an even strength goal at 13:21 to round out the US scoring and Sam Reinhart finally solved Gillies less than a minute later to spoil the shutout.
Non-Flames prospects that stood out for USA from my perspective were Connor Carrick and Quentin Shore. Shore plays hard on both sides of the the puck and seemed to exemplify the type of hardnosed game the US brought.
Flames fans can be pleased, nay, ecstatic about the play of Jon Gillies. He was solid throughout. But he was also outstanding at times, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd of 2400 at one point when he robbed Canada on the PP.
Patrick Sieloff was a rock. As advertised he is solid defensively, hits hard and plays with an edge. He played the Canadians tough all game long, using his body and his stick to physically dominate along the boards and in front of the net and showed well when blocking shots and killing penalties. This is one of those guys who you love if he plays for your team but hate if he plays for someone else.
Both Sieloff and Gillies are way too young to project as pros, but from what i have seen so far they were the best young defensive defenseman and goalie of the entire group. Their stock is on the rise.
The only Flames prospect playng for Canada today was Sean Monahan. Instead of playing Monahan at his natural position of center, Sutter opted to use him on the left wing, presumably to have a look at some of the other possibilities at center.
His line didn't get much ice time and Monahan only had a few touches of the puck on his side of the ice. The only time he showed anything was briefly on a powerplay when he was centering McDavid and Reinhart and made a sweet between-the-legs pass to McDavid. US also scored when he was in the box.
Conspicuous by their absense were Emile Poirier and Mark Jankowski. Canada's dominating forecheck was basically non-existent without their speed and size on the wings. Also missing and missed were Mantha, Gaunce and Rychel.
The diminutive Canadian lineup was ineffective against the bigger more physical American squad. Horvat and Shinkaruk had a tough time getting it going. Horvat used his size well at times along the boards, but looked slow out there at times, being left behind the play. Shinkaruk was getting easily pushed off of the puck and dominated along the boards, as was Max Domi.
The smaller Canadian squad had problems getting any open ice because of the American's size and speed. I guess it should be noted that this was by far the weakest team the Canadians have iced so far, but that isn't to take anything away from the USA's performance.
After seeing these three games, I think the Canadian team will be going for size and speed over raw talent. I see guys like Petan, Shinkaruk, Domi, McDavid etc. on the outside looking in, in favour of bigger wingers like Poirier and Jankowski and a big fourth line of Gaunce, Rychel and Mantha.
This is subject to change of course as there could be several high-end players not in camp that will be on the team if they are not playing in the NHL.
Factoid: The 2014 WJC in Malmo Sweden marks the 27th anniversary of the infamous Punch-up in Piestany.
Cheers, and thanks for reading.