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DeBrincat Returns to World Junior Lineup

01/03/2016, 4:30pm EST
By Mike McMahon - Special to USAHockey.com

Forward hopes to put rough start to tournament behind him

For much of his hockey career, Alex DeBrincat has been overlooked. Standing just 5-foot-7 and weighing about 165 pounds, the 18-year-old from just outside of Detroit doesn’t give off the vibe of a player that could overpower you.

But DeBrincat is living proof that big things come in small packages, to use an old cliché.

Currently skating with Team USA at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland, DeBrincat is continuing to build his résumé for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

DeBrincat has come a long way in just 18 months, when every Ontario Hockey League team passed on the then-16-year-old in that league’s draft. After 299 other players were drafted, DeBrincat signed as a free agent with the Erie Otters.

After DeBrincat went down with an injury to Sweden in just the second game of the tournament he's worked his way back quickly, scoring a goal against Czech Republic in a vital quarterfinal victory. 

DeBrincat knows a thing or two about playing with top players. Last season with the Erie, he was paired with top-pick Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome. As a rookie, he scored 51 goals and added 53 assists (104 points) in 68 games.

In doing so, he was named the OHL’s Rookie of the Year, the first American to take that honor since Patrick Kane in 2007.

Now with McDavid gone for the NHL, DeBrincat is carrying the scoring load for the Otters with 33 goals in just 30 games as well as 56 points.

DeBrincat feels like his style is a good fit on Team USA. He doesn't shy away from battling for pucks in the corner or taking punishment for going to the “dirty areas” of the ice.

DeBrincat is more than just a grinder, though. With 84 goals in his first 98 OHL games, he clearly has the ability to bury the puck on his own.

“He has to be a guy who buries the puck,” U.S. head coach Ron Wilson said. “He has done that all year in juniors, he’s leading the league in scoring, there’s no reason that should be different out here."

DeBrincat is also hoping that his hard work translates to big goals for Team USA in the medal round, which continues Monday against Russia at 1 p.m. ET.

“That’s my role in Erie [to score goals],” DeBrincat said. “I’ll do whatever they need me to do, but hopefully I’d like to be able to [score goals] here and help out the team, obviously.”

DeBrincat is currently ranked as a top-20 prospect for June’s NHL Draft, but that doesn’t seen to faze him. Despite all the praise he’s received since USA Hockey’s pre-tournament camp in Boston — he wasn’t invited to the summer camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., perhaps just another example of him being overlooked — DeBrincat is still focused on improving his game.

“I still need to work on my game more,” he said. “I’m not satisfied with what I've done this year. I know that I have a lot to do to improve. I know I need to tighten up my defensive game a lot, and that's something I've been working on lately.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

More World Juniors News

Team USA Schedule

Date Opponent Location Result U.S. Player of the Game
Sat., Dec. 26 Canada Helsinki Ice Hall W, 4-2 Colin White
Mon., Dec. 28 Sweden Helsinki Ice Hall L, 0-1 Zach Werenski
Wed., Dec. 30 Switzerland Helsinki Ice Hall W, 10-1 Auston Matthews
Thu., Dec. 31 Denmark Helsinki Ice Hall W, 4-1 Brandon Carlo
Sat., Jan. 2 Czech Republic
Quarterfinals
Helsinki Ice Hall W, 7-0 Nick Schmaltz
Mon., Jan. 4 Russia
Semifinals
Hartwall Arena L, 1-2 Christian Dvorak
Tues. , Jan. 5 Sweden
Bronze Medal Game
Hartwall Arena W, 8-3 Anders Bjork

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