PLYMOUTH, MI — Every summer, dozens of talented young junior hockey players converge at the USA Hockey Arena complex outside of Detroit for a week of tournament-style camps which allows coaches, team management, and scouts to closely evaluate the talent of recently drafted and draft-eligible junior players.
The camp serves as an early step in the lengthy decision prospect by each country to whittle down their numbers and settle on their eventual roster for the next World Junior Championship.
In addition to the American team, the countries of Canada, Finland, and Sweden are also represented. Wednesday’s back-to-back games pitted Canada against Finland and the USA versus Sweden.
CANADA 6 FINLAND 5 OT
Team Finland looked to be comfortable with a 4-2 lead heading into the third period. The Canadians dominated the final frame with a 15-6 advantage in shots but still found themselves down by two with five minutes to go.
Cue the wild finish. Team Canada found the back of the net three times in just 2:29 including the tying goal with their net empty. After a timeout to settle their team Finland forced overtime with only 29 seconds left.
Michael McLeod (NJD 2016) scored the game-winner 2:39 into the 3-on-3 overtime. Matthew Phillips (CGY 2016) led Canada with two goals. Janne Kuokkanen (CAR 2016) had a goal and an assist for Team Finland.
USA 3 SWEDEN 2
The Swedes dominated the first period from the drop of the puck, outshooting the Americans 14-3 in the opening frame. Team Sweden also had a strong third period with a 15-7 advantage on the shot clock. But it was Team USA that prevailed making the most of their opportunities with all three of their goals coming in the second period.
2018 NHL draft eligible defenseman, Quinn Hughes, had the game-winner on the power-play. Kailer Yamamoto (EDM 2017) and Riley Tufte (DAL 2016) added singles. Lias Andersson (NYR 2017) had both goals for Sweden.
After each game, we had the opportunity to speak with a number of players and coaches – including Canadiens prospect Will Bitten. Listen to the exclusive audio from each interview below:
Will Bitten, Team Canada:
Kailer Yamamoto, Team USA:
Linus Hogberg, Team Sweden:
Quinn Hughes, Team USA:
Coach Monten, Team Sweden:
Coach Ahokas, Team Finland:
Interviews conducted by Amy Johnson for AHL Report.