Gilles and Hart, who are both expected to be selected the top three rounds of this weekend’s NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, received a call from USA Hockey that they will both be heading to Lake Placid, NY in August to take part in USA Hockey’s World Junior Evaluation Camp, which will give USA Hockey its first look at the 46 hopefuls under the age of 20 for the upcoming 2013 World Junior Tournament in Ufa, Russia in December.
“It feels great,” said Gillies, who was the starting goaltender for the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League this past season and recently committed to Providence College, starting this fall. “The goalie camp I went to last weekend was a really good experience. There were eight really talented goalies there. To be selected for one of the four is a really big honor.”
Gilles attended a USA Hockey goaltending camp at Ann Arbor in advance of the evaluation camp to better assess the development of several goaltenders who were invited.
“I thought I did pretty well,” he added. “I was a little rusty. I hadn’t been on the ice since my season ended. I thought I was pretty consistent throughout the whole camp.”
“It was all drills,” Gillies added about the camp. “The local National Team Development Program (NTDP) kids came and shot (on us), like Jacob Trouba and Pat Sieloff for goalie drills. We had two on ice sessions on (last) Monday and Tuesday and by Wednesday we were out of there.”
The 18-year old netminder, who is ranked the sixth best goaltender in North America by the NHL Central Scouting Service for the upcoming NHL Draft, had a 31-11-9 record with a 2.77GAA and .915 save percentage for the Indiana Ice his season. He will be eligible for the 2013 and 2014 World Junior teams.
USA Hockey likes Gillies development the last few years.
“From his track record and how he has played moving up from the development chain, it will be another step in his development,” said Jim Johansson, assistant executive director for hockey operations at USA Hockey, who will also serve as general manager of the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team. “He has had a pretty good natural attrition up the ranks in US programs and this will put him at the pinnacle level from an amateur stand point, if you will, from measuring himself against our country at this camp.”
Gillies was one of the USA’s goaltender at the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament last summer.Brian Hart had 30 goals and 32 assists for Phillips Exeter this season as they fell in the semifinals of the New England Prep League and will attend Harvard this fall.
For USA Hockey, they don’t know too much about Hart, but are very interested in what he can bring to the US squad.
“In Brian Hart, we are getting a guy to a degree that’s a little bit of an unknown as it relates to play at a higher level,” said Johansson. “He had a dominate year, he’s a big player, he’s physical, he has a lot of attributes that have success at this tournament. “He’s a guy that has to come down and show it on the ice against the top (players) in the country. In reality, this will be the first time he plays at this level type of camp.”
While the World Junior team is comprised mostly players with some history with USA Hockey, Johansson points out unknown players to USA Hockey finds their way on to the final roster.
“We have plenty of players to rise up from this tournament (camp) without much international or national experience come and perform well at the camp. Hart is a guy Tim Taylor, and Phil Housley and myself are looking forward to see at the camp to see how he adjusts to this level of play.”
Notes: Also heading to the evaluation camp is Phoenix Coyotes defenseman prospect Connor Murphy. The 19-year-old 2011 first round pick of the Coyotes had eight goals and 18 assists in 35 games of the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League last season. He’s is eligible to join the Coyotes AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates this season because he was drafted out of the NTDP program based in Ann Arbor, Michigan or he could be reassigned back to Sarnia for his second OHL season.
USA Hockey announced Monday that Phil Housley will be USA’s head coach for the World Junior team. Housley spent 21 seasons in the National Hockey League. A first-round draft pick (sixth overall) by the Buffalo Sabres in 1982 had 1,232 career points (338-894), the most by an American-born defenseman. He’s currently the head coach of Stillwater High School boys’ hockey team in Minnesota.
Brian Dumoulin is the last Maine native to represent the United States at the World Junior Championships winning a Bronze medal the 2011 tournament in Buffalo. Greg Moore of Lisbon won the gold medal with USA at the 2004 tournament in Finland.