The 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase is now underway at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.
The U.S. squads will open the day with event headshots before hitting the ice for separate skates. USA Blue, led by Grant Potulny (Minneapolis, Minn.) and Toby Petersen (Minneapolis, Minn.), will skate from 9:00-10:15 a.m. followed by USA White, which is being coached by Greg Brown (Scituate, Mass.) and Dan Muse (Geneva, Ill.). After lunch and time to themselves, the two squads will then reconvene for a joint skate from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
It is the first day of on-ice sessions for the U.S. players and staff, which arrived yesterday throughout the day. Last night, they attended a meeting where staff members, including Jim Johannson (Colorado Springs, Colo.), general manager of the 2017 U.S. National Junior Team, and head coach, Bob Motzko (St. Cloud, Minn.), discussed expectations for a U.S. squad that will ultimately enter the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship defending its gold medal on home ice in Buffalo, New York.
"You don't avoid addressing last year and the success our team had," said Johannson. "What you do is explain how that success started here at this event. The players know that these games against Canada, Finland and Sweden allow them to show their skills in a competitive environment that also doubles as a great measuring marker of what the level of play will be at this year's World Juniors."
"It's all about trusting the process,"said Motzko. "I think there were two big things we told our guys. The first was that a big part of last year's success was because of the work the players put in at this Showcase a year ago. The second thing was that what happened last year is done; it's over. Let's turn the page, show each other what we're capable of today and get after it. It's about this team now."
GUEST ASSISTANT COACHES
Each year, the U.S. invites two individuals to serve as its guest assistant coaches for the first portion of the event. This year, Dan Muse (Geneva, Ill.) and Toby Petersen (Minneapolis, Minn.) will serve as guest coaches at the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase. Recently named an assistant coach for the NHL's Nashville Predators, last season Muse led the USHL's Chicago Steel to a Clark Cup championship. In addition, he served as a video coach for the U.S. National Junior Team twice (2013, 2014), helping Team USA claim a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. Petersen enjoyed a 13-year professional hockey career that included stints with the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars as well as their AHL affiliates Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, Edmonton Roadrunners, Iowa Stars and Texas Stars. A 2014 Calder Cup champion with the Texas Stars, he also represented the United States on three occasions and helped the 1997 U.S. National Junior Team claim the only World Junior Championship silver medal in USA Hockey history.
"We've been doing this for a few years now where we identify individuals who can relate to the players directly about what it means to represent the U.S. and play for championship-winning teams," said Johannson. "In this case, Toby's experience as a player and Dan's success as a coach really allow our players and staff the chance to pick their brains and understand more about what it takes to be successfully and play for Team USA."