2017 NHL Draft

Recap: Team USA-Harvard

Crimson school U18s in weekend exhibition
Steve Kournianos  |  10/10/2016 |  Boston  |  

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BOSTON (The Draft Analyst) — The United States National Under-18 team’s struggles against collegiate opponents continued this weekend with a pair of losses to Boston-area schools, including Saturday night’s penalty-filled 5-2 loss to the host Harvard Crimson. The NTDP, which every season plays over a dozen exhibition tilts against NCAA competition, never seemed to get on track against a Harvard team that used its size and tenacity to create turnovers and possess the puck inside the offensive zone for long stretches.

The Crimson opened the scoring at 2:42 of the first when defenseman Adam Fox picked off a pass from Tyler Inamoto and fed Ryan Donato for a tip-in to the left of goalie Adam Scheel. After defenseman Nate Knoepke tied the game at 1-1 with a rifle shot on the power play at 9:25, senior Alexander Kerfoot responded 60 seconds later when he took a brilliant cross-ice feed from Fox and whipped a wrist shot over Scheel’s shoulder that gave Harvard a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Photo courtesy of Rena Laverty

A hard-fought goal by the NTDP’s Randy Hernandez knotted the score at 2-2 at 3:16 of the second , but the Crimson took the lead for good when Clay Anderson scored on the power play at 5:35. Team USA failed to capitalize on a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage in the middle frame, and Harvard put the game away with third-period markers from Tyler Moy and towering defenseman Riley Sherman, who blasted a slap shot from the blue line past a screened Scheel at 8:22 of the final stanza.

Fox, a third round pick of the Calgary Flames who last season set the NTDP’s single-season scoring mark for defenseman, led all scorers with four assists. Harvard held a 36-27 advantage in shots, and the two teams combined for 42 penalty minutes and 13 power play chances.

Prospect Notes

Team USA

G Adam Scheel (6’3/189, Notre Dame): This was the best Scheel has looked in any of our viewings, and there was little he could do on four of the five goals — the last being a bomb from the point through a maze of players. His rebound control was impeccable in every sense of the term, and only once did we see him put a rebound in front of him, and that was when he batted a puck well beyond the slot. Scheel timed dump-ins with quickness and did well with communicating with his defenders. He made a save of his early season — a left pad split at the goal mouth to thwart a saucered centering feed off a 2-on-1.

LW Grant Mishmash (6’0/184, North Dakota): Mismash picked up the primary assist on Randey Hernandez’s goal when his hard wrist shot was too tough to handle. But it was an otherwise quiet performance by one of Team USA’s better goal scorers, who on several occasions put his linemates at risk by forcing passes to them when they were covered. He made a few low-percentage plays and took a tripping penalty. Mismash played on Scott Reedy’s line with Hernandez and came across as a bit of a passenger.

RW Randy Hernandez (6’0/177): Hernandez was probably Team USA’s best forward, firing off a team-high four shots on goal and displaying excellent vision. He skates with his head up while juking his way into the offensive zone, and he seemed quite comfortable handling the puck. Hernandez’s passes were accurate for the most part, and connected with linemates with authority.

LW Graham Slaggert (5’11/184, Notre Dame): Slaggert is a two-way forward who can fill in at either center or wing. He was on Dhooghe’s left flank and did a lot of yeoman’s work, taking hits and using his speed to skate the puck out of harms way. He won all three of his draws after filling in for his overzealous center, and connected on all the passes he was supposed to make. Slaggert — a Notre Dame commit — was another forward who was effective on the penalty kill

LW Joey Cassetti (6’3/187, Boston College): Cassetti played a crash-and-bang style suitable for the way the evening transpired, hustling every shift without giving away anything in terms of positioning and defensive responsibilities. He displayed good separation speed and puck protection by taking a stretch pass for a breakaway during a Team USA power play, only to have the puck bounce on him right before reaching the low slow. Cassetti is a cerebral player when it comes to board battles, positioning his body and stcik properly while using soft, subtle chip or bank passes to allow teammates to escape up ice with numbers.

LW Jacob Tortora (5’7/162, Boston College): Tortora was one of Team USA’s better players, using his dynamic speed and tenacity to generate chances through a dense network of Crimson sticks and bodies. He didn’t get his name on the scoresheet, but Tortora made several high-end plays to not only elude the sticks of bigger opponents, but lure them towards him so he could thread the needle with passes that created chances. He’s very slippery and tough to contain, but what we liked most is how physically engaged he played and how he finished his checks on bigger players. Tortora played on the top power play unit, positioning himself in the slot area. He also revealed a very hard wrist shot that missed the net.

C Evan Barratt (5’11/187, Penn State): Barratt showed good chemistry centering linemates Jacob Tortora and Brady Tkachuk, but it was his cross-ice assist onto the tape of Nate Knoepke for a power play goal that stood out the most. He centered the top power play unit and played on the penalty with an average night on faceoffs (6-8). He too finished his checks and was effective in using his stick to swat away opposing centering feeds and zone entry attempts. Barratt revealed a hard, accurate backhander that he was able to roof from in close

RW Sean Dhooghe (5’3/138, Wisconsin): Dhooghe is a tough customer who was the least bit intimidated against Harvard’s bigger player. He had an excellent night at the dot (11-5), and used his speed and edge work to remain unpredictable as he zipped though the neutral zone with speed. Unfortunately for Dhooghe, there wasn’t a whole lot of room for him, and the Crimson defenders were able to lean on him with ease. And when he found the time and space in the form of a 3-on-2, his tape-to-tape pass to a cutting Tyler Inamoto was mishandled.

RHD Phil Kemp (6’3/201): Another solid effort from Kemp who is looking more and more like a stay-at-home defender. He had trouble with only a few of his breakouts, but he dished out a couple of big hits and never once did we catch him wandering from where he was supposed to be. Kemp is a heavy-hitter who was rewarded with some power play time that only reinforced how he should be groomed to only clean up messes in his own end.

LHD Nate Knoepke (6’3/01, Minnesota): Knoepke was Team USA’s best defender from wire to wire, and it wasn’t only for his roof-shot power play goal. His size and long stride allowed him to deal with the forecheck, and he was confident with his puck handling. We’re starting to think he’s going to be our top NTDP blueliner as the draft nears, as he’s done nothing to dispel a rise up our rankings.

LHD Tyler Inamoto (6’2/196, Wisconsin): Inamoto had a long night, beginning with a turnover right to Adam Fox for the game’s opening score. He had a handful of misplays with the puck and looked to make up for it with open-ice hits. From the dots down, he’s a suitable defender. His problems, however, may stem from overconfidence with the puck — Inamoto’s an excellent skater and tries to involve himself in every play. He could stand to work on his gap control, as he was cleanly beaten to the outside on a seemingly average one-on-one situation.

LW Logan Cockerill (5’9/164, Boston University): Cockerill is an explosive skater who joined linemates Sean Dhooghe and Graham Slaggert to create a handful of turnovers. Harvard did a solid job of recovering from turnovers, thus limiting the amount of room the trio had to work with. Although Cockerill was quiet at even strength, he did an excellent job during the penalty kill by pressing points and using a quick stick to deflect passes out of the zone.

RW Michael Pastujov (6’0/192, Michigan): Pastujov may have been a dominant player at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, but his season has since been rather quiet. He was neutralized for most of the game, but did make a gorgeous rush into the zone and dangled a defender before rifling a shot just over the crossbar. He played on a line with center Josh Norris and Joey Cassetti — a trip that was pinned in its own end on several occasions. Pastujov has issues with clearing attempts and turned the puck over more than once.

C Josh Norris (6’1/192, Michigan): Norris displayed his high-end potential in spurts, but Harvard was otherwise effective in limiting Team USA”s top-line center from creating scoring chances. He has ridiculous hands and can control the puck in the tightest of spaces, and more than once we saw him strip the puck from an unassuming defender headed up ice. Norris has a brutal nigh on faceoffs (5-13) at first glance, but his instincts allowed him to be quick to the puck and cut down the amount of time the Crimson had to create off of successful draws.

RW Scott Reedy (6’1/202, Minnesota): Reedy seemed ticked off from the second the puck dropped, banging everything in site and mixing it up after the whistle. He registered a secondary assist in a goal by Hernandez — a play made possible by his difficult keep-in of a Harvard clearing attempt. Reedy stood out in two ways — first, he has eyes in the back of his head. Reedy found ways to sneak drop or lead passes to a cutting linemate while not only looking away, but with multiple opponents collapsing around him. Second, his footwork is exceptional, as he starts and stops on a time, and will change direction in a deceptive fashion. Need a guy on that wall? Call Reedy, who went 5-3 on draws but didn’t receive the amount of ice time he deserved.

LHD David Farrance (5’11/191, Boston University): That’s two straight viewings where Farrance has impressed us with just about everything. He quarterbacked the top power play unit, where he used speed and gear shifting to slice through the neutral zone and set up plays. His hand-eye coordination is exceptional, and he needed it to corrall some tough passes in his skates or beyond his reach. He made a coast-to-coast rush for a stuff-in attempt, and used a 150-foot bank pass to spring a teammate for a clean zone entry. Farrance is an offense-first defender whose current command of the ice is veteran like, but he’ll need to get stronger to deal with the kind of power forwards who gave him trouble over the weekend. He had four shots on goal but passed up a handful of open looks.

LHD Max Gildon (6’3/188, Wisconsin): The night was a bit of an adventure for this big defender, and we were a bit disappointed that the crash-and-bang style of the Harvard game made him seem uncomfortable. He had a body in his face every time he turned to get the puck, leading so some inaccurate breakout passes and hasty clearing attempts. Gildon made an excellent 100-foot head man that led to a scoring chance, but he was caught gazing and overcommitted for a 2-on-1 that went the other way. Gildon has promise — you notice his upside even in the face of a struggle. But the logjam of quality two-way defenders at the NTDP level tells us the native Texan would be better off heading to the CHL (The WHL’s Vancouver Giants own his rights) where he’ll probably have a better opportunity to showcase his size/skill combination. He did, however, play very well on the penalty kill.

RHD John Maniscalco (6’1/200): It looked as if Maniscalco was Team USA’s eighth defenseman and the high amount of special teams play is probably why we didn’t see him on the ice as much. The only time he was noticed was when he overcommitted and was slow to react to a puck rusher that had an open lane to the cage.

RHD Tommy Miller (6’2/177, Michigan State): Miller was one of two Team USA defenseman (Knoepke being the other) who was responsible with the puck from start to finish. As stated in previous reports, he’s not flashy. But the score would have been far more lopsided had the NTDP’ers lack the kind of defensive-zone reliability Miller consistently provides. He saw a lot of action against Harvard’s power play and was always positioned to interdict point shots and cross-ice feeds.

LHD Quinn Hughes (5’9/167, Michigan/2018 Draft): Hughes is an excellent skater — probably the best the NTDP’s had in terms of recent defensemen. His instincts and reads were strong, and not once did we see him hesitate or look unsure the second the puck was on his stick. Hughes got the chance to quarterback a late-game power play, displaying incredibly soft hands and the kind of confidence to take the puck to the net via the shortest routes possible. He’s not big (5’9, 167), but he took hits to complete plays and was one of the better Team USA blueliners in terms of handling Harvard’s pressure-packed forecheck.

LW Brady Tkachuk (6’2/194, Boston University/2018 Draft): Tkachuk was a wrecking ball who played fearless, at times a bit out of control. It was a chippy affair, so Tkachuk naturally involved himself any chance he could. He seems to have a quicker first step than brother Matt but lacks in the playmaking department. He’s still a pup and has a two full seasons to hone his game before the 2018 draft rolls around.