By Ryan Zuke -
Thirty-four players survived cuts at the 2012 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp—and four of them call the Mitten home.
The Michigan-born players remaining on the roster are Jacob Trouba (Rochester), Patrick Sieloff (Ann Arbor), Reid Boucher (Grand Ledge) and Blake Pietila (Brighton).
Trouba was selected 9th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft and will be playing for the University of Michigan in the fall, while Sieloff, taken 42nd overall, will skate for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL.
Boucher was a fourth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2011, and played one game for its AHL affiliate in Albany last season. New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello was quoted as saying that Boucher will return to playing in the OHL next season.
Pietila was also a Devils’ draft pick in 2011, selected in the fifth round; he will return to Michigan Tech for his sophomore season.
And the Michigan connections do not end there. Four other players skated for Michigan teams last year – forwards J.T. Miller and Stefan Noesen of the Plymouth Whalers, forward Vince Trocheck of the Saginaw Spirit, and defenseman Garrett Haar of Western Michigan.
Miller is a 2011 first-round pick of the New York Rangers and scored 25 goals with 37 assists last season with the Plymouth Whalers. Noesen, Miller’s teammate of a year ago, is another 2011 first-round draft choice and led the Whalers with 82 points.
A third-round pick of the Florida Panthers, Trocheck (Pittsburgh) led the Saginaw Spirit last year with 85 points.
Haar, a Huntington Beach, Calif. native, had eight points in his freshman season for Western Michigan in the CCHA.
The players continue to skate for an opportunity to play on the U.S. National Junior Team that will take part in the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 5, 2013, in Ufa, Russia.
Trouba and Miller are the only Michigan connections to play in last year’s World Juniors; Miller had two goals and two assists, while Trouba had one goal and two assists.
USA opened camp with a split against Finland and Sweden in Lake Placid, NY.
In the first contest, USA Blue defeated Finland 5-4, fueled by a Mario Lucia hat trick. Lucia broke the 4-4 tie with 35 seconds remaining in the third.
USA White fell 5-1 to Sweden in game two, despite outshooting them 22-20. USA White cut into Sweden’s 2-0 lead 3:23 into the second period with a goal by Mike Reilly, but Sweden added two more before the end of the frame.
“I think the blue team did an excellent job of pursuing the puck on the forecheck and made some great transition plays,” said head coach Phil Housley in a press release. “They were in a tight game and they found a way to win, so that was intriguing to me. They stuck to the game plan. The white team, I thought they got a little frustrated. At times they had some great pressure but I think they got away from the game plan and took some unnecessary penalties, which cost us. Sweden is a very elite team, a very good transition team. We have a lot of work to do. We haven’t had any practice time so I’m looking forward to tomorrow to implement some more system work.”
The trimmed Team USA roster will play two more games against Finland and one more against Sweden before breaking camp.