Sieloff takes on leadership role for U.S.
LAKE PLACID, NY -- The last time Patrick Sieloff saw a Swedish junior team, he ended up with a gold medal draped around his neck after his United States finished as champions at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Sieloff faced a Swedish junior team again Sunday, but this time the setting was markedly different -- the 1980 Rink at Herb Brooks Arena in the opening game at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp.
The outcome was different as well. Sweden took advantage of nine power plays to earn a 4-2 win against a split-squad USA White squad.
The teams were tied after two periods, but a pair of Sweden power-play goals by Lucas Wallmark and Oskar Sundqvist proved to be the difference.
"That was the biggest thing," Sieloff told NHL.com. "We got caught up in the penalties. Sweden's power play, we saw it last year in Russia [at the 2013 World Junior Championship], it's what they thrive off of. For us, that's the biggest thing, staying out of the box. We were tied 2-2 and we got a couple penalties and that didn't help us. As a team, we have to come together and make sure we're not getting them."
Sieloff is in a position to do something about the penalties and speak up when things go south. One of three players at the camp this year who won gold with the U.S. team last year, Sieloff said he'll have no problem being vocal if it's needed.
"I'll pick and choose my spots," he said. "I'm not going to be that guy running around everywhere with my mouth, but if something needs to be said, absolutely I feel more comfortable. I've been through this before. I have a little experience with it."
Being a commanding presence off the ice might be a new piece to Sieloff's game, but his play on the ice already speaks loudly. A 2012 second-round pick (No. 42) of the Calgary Flames, Sieloff has earned a reputation for being a heavy hitter and using his 6-foot, 192-pound frame to his fullest advantage. On a team that featured offensive-minded blueliners like Jacob Trouba, Seth Jones, Shayne Gostisbehere and Mike Reilly, Sieloff was the battering ram who was able to keep opponents honest.
"I want them to be able to skate up the ice, do what they do," Sieloff said. "They're offensive guys. I want them to be comfortable. The other team, they have to make sure their heads are up because I want to be in their guys' faces, I want to play against the top line and shut them down. I want to play on the penalty kill, whenever they put in, and shut them down."
That role certainly is appreciated by his teammates.
"What doesn't Patty bring?" USA White goalie and fellow Flames prospect Jon Gillies said. "He's got that touch of offense when he needs it and he just lowers the boom on people and he's very solid defensively. … He plays a calm game. He's physical when he has to be, when he can be, but he never steps out of his way, never gets out of position doing it. He's that spark plug for us, gets us going and he's our leader."
If that's the role Sieloff has to play, that's fine. But if he has to take a backseat to more talented teammates, he's OK with that, too. Sieloff said a willingness to accept any role assigned him is what he learned from his experience at last year's tournament, when he wasn't even sure he'd be on the team until the final roster was announced.
"I was on the bubble with [Matthew] Grzelcyk if I was going to make the team," Sieloff said. "If I was going to get on the team, I was going to do whatever they wanted me to do. Mentally, it was hard and once they said you're on the team, I kind of put everything aside and focused on the team. I knew I wasn't going to play huge minutes and go in whenever I went in and make the best of it. That's the biggest thing I learned -- accepting what they gave me."
It's likely he'll have a larger role if he makes the team that will go to Sweden for the 2014 WJC. On Sunday, he paired with New Jersey Devils draft pick Steven Santini on USA White's top shut-down defence pairing and they were the first blueliners out on the team's penalty kill.
That pairing got plenty of work as USA White was called for four penalties in the first period, including three in a row in a 4:55 span in the second half of the first. Despite that, the game was tied after one period, 1-1.
Grzelcyk opened the scoring with a power-play goal 3:28 into the game, but Sweden answered with a power-play goal by Andre Burakovsky at 5:32.
Sweden's only even-strength goal of game came 13:02 of the second, when Anton Lindholm's wrist shot from the point got past USA White goalie Collin Olsen to put Sweden ahead. The lead wouldn't last, however, as Andrew Copp, a Winnipeg Jets prospect, tied the game at 14:14.
A penalty on Sweden with 12.0 seconds left in the second gave USA White the early advantage in the third, but it was a delay of game penalty on Tommy Vannelli that led to Wallmark's goal at 15:56 of the third. Moments later, a high-sticking penalty on Quentin Shore gave Sweden another advantage, and this time it was Sundqvist cashing in at 17:59.
Gillies, who started in net for USA White, stopped 11 of 12 shots in just more than a period and a half of action. Olson stopped 17 of 20 shots.
Sweden's Oscar Dansk made 15 saves on 17 shots.
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor