The first day international games gets underway today at the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase here at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. Team USA White will face Finland at 1 p.m. ET while Team USA Blue will challenge Sweden at 4 p.m. ET. Tickets for both games are available here and at the USA Hockey Box Office while both games will be streamed live at HockeyTV.com.
ABOUT THE WORLD JUNIOR SUMMER SHOWCASE
This is the second consecutive year that USA Hockey Arena will host the World Junior Summer Showcase, which features some of the top players under the age of 20 from four nations - the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden - auditioning for a spot to represent their country in the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, which will take place Dec. 26, 2017 - Jan. 5, 2018, in Buffalo, New York. In total, the week-long event will include 12 international competitions between the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden.
2017 WORLD JUNIOR SUMMER SHOWCASE FACTS
In total, 130 players will be participating in the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase for the United States (42 players), Canada (43 players), Finland (24 players) and Sweden (25 players). Of the 130 players, 109 are NHL Draft choices while another 21 players are eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft. Of the 109 NHL Draft picks, 61 players were taken in the first (32) and second (29) rounds.
IT BEGINS TODAY
After yesterday's evening skate, both Team USA Blue and Team USA White were told 'it all begins tomorrow' in reference to international games.
"The practices (on Friday) were a chance for guys to get their legs under them and hear our voices on the ice," said Bob Motzko, head coach of the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team. "Now, the fun begins. As a staff, now we take a step back and learn as much as we can from these players. We need to see how they act in a game setting, what they can adjust to on the fly and how they interact with teammates on the bench. It's all part of the process in evaluating these kids."
EYE IN THE SKY
One of the major differences, aside from Team USA having two rosters, in the first three days of games is that Motzko will not be behind the bench. This is by design, as it allows the assistant coaches to have their voices heard while also allowing Motzko a different vantage point of these players.
"I want my staff to have their voices heard and for them to get adjusted to these kids in their own way, too," said Motzko. "Potulny is now a head coach at Northern Michigan, while Brown has been an associate head coach with Boston College. Those guys know how to run a bench, which allows me the chance to be an eye in the sky, if you will, and evaluate these players alongside Jim Johannson and our player personnel staff."