USA and Canada tangle in WJC split-squad rematch of 2017 gold-medal-game Tuesday

USA Hockey’s split-squads took to the ice again on Tuesday in Plymouth, Michigan for two games against split-squads from the team they beat for gold in 2017: Canada. The USA White team got things going early and fired five goals past Canada Red goalie Dylan Wells on 12 first period shots. Canda Red came back and scored twice, but USA White put things away and ran away with an 8-2 victory.

USA White 8 Canada Red 2

Canada Red:

Stuart Skinner (17 saves on 22 shots): He came in after a rather rough outing by Dylan Wells. He used his size well and was able to go down and still make saves up high. It’s going to be tough for him to find a spot with CHL goalie of the year Carter Hart and 2017 Memorial Cup all-star and best goalie Michael DiPietro also in camp.

David Quenneville (one assist, five shots): He struggled with the physicality of the U.S. forwards. Canada used him a lot in the many four-on-four opportunities that happened and his potent shot seems to be something the team makes an effort in freeing up. He sttruggled quite a bit in one-on-one situations as was seen when he was completely shook by move by Middlestadt, allowing him to walk in and snip a shot past Skinner for the back-breaking sixth goal.

Dillon Dube (two shots, minus two): He seemed to defer and try to play set up man more than taking it at the net. Dube has strong vision though and his passes always seemed to lead his teammates into an area where they could get a shot through.

Matthew Phillips (two shots): He played on line with Tri-City’s Michael Rasmussen and Michael McLeod They spent a lot of time in their own zone and Phillips’ only real good looks were on a breakaway and a wraparound follow up. He would make up for his poor Tuesday outing with two goals in Canada’s 6-5 win over Finland Wednesday.

Michael Rasmussen (one shot): He played on the left wing and despite having two creative players, he did not get many good looks.

Kole Lind (two shots, minus two): In the action I saw on Tuesday, he did not have the puck on his stick much. Sometimes at these camps, players need to ease into play and it appears that’s what may have happened with him.

Brett Howden (one goal, minus two): He provided a physical presence out there. On one play, he drove the net and caused two defenders to have to converge in order to drive him off the puck. His goal came on a heads-up play getting to a spot where he could tip home a Nic Hague shot on the power play.

USA White:

Max Gerlach (one goal, three shots): He drove the net hard in three-on-two and then two-on-one rush. He then continued and got into a tough area and batted home the rebound. This was his third goal in three games.

Kailer Yamamoto (two assists, two shots): He again created a goal by slipping past a defender and getting the puck on net. Logan Brown tapped home the rebound for the game’s first goal. Instead of just sitting on the left point for the power play, he went down low and switched out with Logan Brown, becoming the net-front presence. Very strong power play with Quinn Hughes, Ryan Poehling, Logan Brown and Case Mitteldstadt.

Gerlach and Yamamoto both made the cut down to one main roster of 34 players.

Canada White 2 USA Blue 1

This was the best game of the World Junior Summer Showcase yet. Both teams had lots of great looks but were stymied by strong netminding. Canada White finally got one mor to edge USA Blue and take the 2-1 win.

USA Blue:

Kieffer Bellows (three shots): A lot of his play was a bit of a mixed bag. He provided lots of good pressure and forced turnovers but also had a couple of really lazy passes up the ice that turned into scoring chances.  Good signs were a pickoff he made with Canada skating the puck out and the U.S. net empty late. He then immediately uncorked a ridiculous one-timer that could have tied the game if it had been on target. Bellows got quite a bit of ice time with his team trailing late.

Canada White:

Carter Hart: 19 shots and 19 saves. Solid, in position and never seemed rattled. The starting job seems like it is his to lose.

Jake Bean (plus one): Activated at will and trusts skating enough to get him back if the puck goes the other way.

Cal Foote (one shot): Jumped up and got a couple great looks on net. Seems to be getting his chances including running the power play. He did struggle with some of the bigger U.S. forwards, but his passing ability may be enough for Canada to overlook this.

Josh Mahura (plus one): It looked like it took him awhile to settle in but once he didm he had a quick push up the ice that set up the game winner.

Kale Clague (one shot): Great two-way play and looks calm in every situation. I think he will end up being a top-four d-man with Canada when all is said and done.

Mason Shaw (one assist, two shots): He had an assist off a give and go with Jordan Kyrou that the latter finished.

Cody Glass (two shots): Beautiful give-and-go and he nearly got a goal one. He played a lot on a line with Givani Smith and Michael McLeod created a lot of good looks in one epic cycle. He also had a fantastic steal in his own zone and immediately set up Will Bitten on a clear breakaway. A good sign that he is in the running to make the team, is that he had some penalty kill time with CW holding a one-goal lead late.

Sam Steel: He did a great job selling out the shot and then almost hit a teammate back door for a tap in goal. He was all over the defense on the fore-check and created some turnovers off a strong U.S. blue line.

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Brandon Rivers

Longtime Portland Winterhawks' blogger on hodgesheroes.blogspot.com. I also write for SB Nation on the for the Seattle Sin Bin at http://www.sonicsrising.com/seattle-sin-bin. Further, I have a Seattle-sports podcast over at 206sportsjocks.com Originally from the Portland area, now living in Seattle. Proud husband and Father.