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Avs Prospects Excel at U.S. Evaluation Camp

Tuesday, 08.14.2007 / 10:55 AM / Features
By Aaron Lopez  - Special to ColoradoAvalanche.com
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Avs Prospects Excel at U.S. Evaluation Camp

Last summer, Colorado Avalanche prospects Mike Carman and Ryan Stoa turned in fine performances at the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, a tool used by USA Hockey to aid in the selection of its U.S. National Junior Team. Based on their strong efforts at the camp, both Carman and Stoa were selected to compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, where Team USA earned the bronze medal.  

This time around, five Avalanche prospects were present in Lake Placid, N.Y., from Aug. 3-11 for the annual evaluation camp, including Carman, T.J. Galiardi, Kevin Montgomery, Kent Patterson and 2007 first-round pick Kevin Shattenkirk.

The nine-day camp included 45 of the top U.S. players (40 skaters, 5 goaltenders) under the age of 20. Following a pair of intrasquad scrimmages, the Americans – divided into Team Blue and Team White  – faced spirited competition from Under-20 teams representing Sweden and Finland.

“Those are two of the top teams in the world,” said Shattenkirk. “I think whenever you’re competing while wearing your country’s jersey, you want to win. The level of competitiveness was very high throughout the camp.”

The results of the camp were overwhelmingly positive, as the two United States squads posted a combined 7-0-0-1 record, with each of Colorado’s five prospects making a significant impact on their teams’ success.

After posting one goal and a +1 rating at last year’s World Junior Championship in Sweden, Carman (3rd round, 81st overall in 2006) has his sights set on returning to the international stage and proved it with his performance in Lake Placid. The 6-foot, 183-pound forward was a physical force on the ice and also tallied three assists in four contests. In addition, the Apple Valley, Minn., native notched a goal in each of the two intrasquad contests.

“Carman showed that he’s a very experienced guy and that he has the potential to be an impact player at the tournament,” said Jim Johannson, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations. “He can help you offensively and is capable of being a shutdown player defensively. He’s a guy who can play and excel in all game situations.”

While Carman offered plenty of international experience, Galiardi (2nd round, 55th overall in 2007) notched one assist in four games during his first appearance representing the United States. Despite his newcomer status, Galiardi’s marked improvement throughout the course of the camp didn’t go unnoticed.

“This was our first experience with him. For T.J.’s first camp with us, I thought his play improved throughout the week,” said Johannson. “He’s a guy we have to continue to watch and focus on in the early part of the year to figure out what kind of player he is. That’s a hard thing to do in a short camp when we’re trying to use guys at various spots. The best part of the camp was our coaches becoming familiar with T.J. and him becoming familiar with our program.”

Montgomery (4th round, 110th overall in 2006), who also participated in the 2006 camp, is hoping that an extra year of seasoning and development will lead to an appearance at the World Juniors in December. The London Knights defenseman led all U.S. blue liners with six points (2g/4a) and showed his versatility to the coaches and evaluators.

“Kevin was clearly more mature as a player and was more physically developed this year,” said Johannson. “He’s one of several defensemen in the camp who were pretty good all-around players. He can be equally effective on the power play, the penalty kill and five-on-five situations.”

Patterson (4th round, 113th overall in 2007) put on some impressive performances in net during his stint in Lake Placid. The Plymouth, Mich., native led all U.S. goaltenders with a .916 save percentage and a 1.83 goals-against average in 98 minutes of work.

“Kent had a good camp. He looked good in net and was technically very sound,” said Johannson. “He held his own and showed that he deserved to be there. The early part of the year will be important to him, and we’ll be watching his development early on.”

Shattenkirk, (1st round, 14th overall in 2007) who is no stranger to international competition, recorded two points (1g/1a) in four games at the camp. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound defenseman joined the offensive rush and saw some time on the power play as well, a role that he became accustomed to while playing at the National Team Development Program.

“He’s a guy who was one of the leaders on the U.S. National Under-18 Team,” said Johannson. “He’s obviously enjoyed much success at the NTDP and has showed pretty good offensive abilities there.”

Gaining exposure to high-level competition can only help Shattenkirk and his fellow Avs prospects to further their development as hockey players. Carman, Montgomery and Shattenkirk have each played in at least one IIHF championship during the course of their young careers, and hope to add to their international resumes when the team is named in December.  Galiardi and Patterson, on the other hand, will be looking to make their IIHF debuts after receiving a taste of international competition at the camp.

“I think that being able to play against some of the top players from your age group on a daily basis helps you progress and improves your game,” said Shattenkirk, who represented the United States at the 2007 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. “This camp really showed that the World Junior Championship is a top-level tournament.”

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