Chicago, IL – This past week or so USA hockey held it’s annual evaluation camp in Lake Placid, NY. Every August approximately 45 or so prospects from around the country are invited to attend and compete. The purpose is it is part of a process that selects US National Junior Team to represent Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championships that takes place in December. Not only does it aide coaches in their selection of the final team that will represent Team USA it also exposes and prepares the prospects to international competition.
This year Teams from Finland, Sweden & the Czech Republic were also at the camp. It is practice scrimmages along with games to get these young prospects ready. The prospects invited represent most of the NHL teams or will be NHL draft eligible in 2015 draft.
The Chicago Blackhawks had six prospects in attendance this year. Four of whom were on Team USA and two were on Team Sweden. Sorry team Sweden I did not get a chance to take in one of your games to check out the Hawks prospects on team Sweden.
The Hawks prospects in attendance for Team USA were 2014 1st round pick forward Nick Schmaltz, who also is a local kid from Verona, WI. Another local boy was 2013 6th round pick forward Anthony Louis from Winfield, IL. Another Midwest boy Tyler Motte from St. Clair, MI, who had an outstanding tournament, was also there. Tyler is the Blackhawks’ 2013 4th round draft selection and is a forward as well. The lone Hawk prospect not from the Midwest was John Hayden who was selected by the Blackhawks in 2013 in the 3rd round.
The Hawks prospects from Team Sweden were Robin Norell and Carl Dahlstrom. If you were recently in attendance at the Blackhawks own prospect camp all of these players were there with the exception of Tyler Motte so you got a glimpse at the talent waiting in the wings in the Hawks prospect system. Tyler Motte and John Hayden had a very good showing at the NJEC.
Motte eventually was on top Team USA line and his production showed with 5G, 3A for a total of 8 points in six games. Motte had a hat trick in Team USA’s game against Finland in a 9-1 romp. Credit must also be given to his line mates Jack Eichel (top draft prospect for 2015) & Alex Tuch ( 2014 1st rounder for Minnesota Wild).
Hawks fans will be very happy with big physical forward John Hayden who knows how to get to the front a net and make his presence felt. Hayden ended the tourney with 3G, 1A for 4 points in 5 games. In the last game against the Czech Republic it was his big imposing body that deflected a shot from the point past the Czech goalie on a power play. Hayden scored another power play goal against Finland in that 9-1 game and another power play goal against Sweden with a helper from Nick Schmaltz.
Local Boys Nick Schmaltz and Anthony Louis for most of the tournament were linemates. Nick Schmaltz only played in 4 games but managed to tally 3 assists while Louis played in 6 games with 1G & 1A. The chemistry is there between the two as they have played together back on the Chicago Mission.
Anthony Louis’ goal came on the power play against a Team White game against Sweden. Who got one of the assists his buddy Schmaltzie. Louis’ assist was on power play goal by Will Butcher in the Team White vs Finland game.
The good news is, it looks like all these Hawks prospects know what to do with a puck on the power play something that the Blackhawks could use on the big club.
I did not attend the games in Lake Placid but I did watch the intra team scrimmage between team blue which had Motte & Hayden on them and team white which had Schmaltz and Louis and the final game of Team USA vs Czech Republic. Schmaltz did not play in the last game vs Czechs.
The one thing that is very apparent is these kids all have solid offensive games and know how to score and make plays. Work on the defensive side of the puck and putting together a solid two-way game, get bigger and faster and these kids will be making the leap soon.
Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs fans will be very happy when these kids get there. For the time being though they are all are heading off to college. If you get the chance to see them go catch them, Nick Schmaltz will be heading to the Univ of North Dakota, you know that school where a Mr. Jonathan Toews attended. Anthony Louis will be attending Miami University, John Hayden will be at Yale University and Tyler Motte will be at big 10 school – University of Michigan.
If you can’t get out to the games then maybe catch them on the College sports channels if you have a sports tv package. Otherwise you will have to wait to catch them at Blackhawks prospect camps. The pipeline the Hawks have going is impressive indeed or as one of the announcers said in a recent game when speaking of the Blackhawks prospects “the rich are only getting richer”.