By Ben Raby
Less than a month after Washington prospect Tom Wilson impressed Capitals management at the teams summer development camp, the 18-year-old is back in a competitive environment as part of the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge.
The Capitals first-round pick (16th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft is one of 56 junior-aged prospects taking part in the four-game series which saw the teams split the first two games in Yaroslavl, Russia, on Thursday and Friday.
Wilson was held off the score sheet Thursday as Canada beat Russia 3-2 and again on Friday in Russias 6-3 win that evened the series.
Despite being held without a point, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound bruising forward likely impressed Hockey Canadas coaching staff with his play on the teams fourth line. Wilson participated in numerous post-whistle scrums as the chippiness between the international rivals has grown throughout the series.
"We're going to have to address our discipline," Canadian head coach Steve Spott said. "This group is real physical. The challenge for us is going to be to continue to play physical but not cross a line where it's going to cost us penalties.
For what its worth, Wilson has brought the physicality, but has not yet put his team shorthanded. He has played primarily on Canadas fourth line along with fellow 2012 NHL draftees Lukas Sutter (39th overall, Winnipeg Jets) and Brendan Leipsic (89th overall, Nashville Predators).
The Canada-Russia Challenge now shifts to Halifax, Nova Scotia for Games Three and Four on Monday and Tuesday (both games at 7:00 p.m. ET).
The first two games of the series were played in Yaroslavl, Russia, as part of a tribute to Kontinental Hockey League team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
The KHL team was lost in a plane crash last September that killed 44 players and coaches, including former NHL defenceman Brad McCrimmon.
POSTCARD FROM CAMP:
A little bit closer to home, five Caps prospects took part in USA Hockeys week-long National Junior Evaluation Camp which ended Saturday in Lake Placid, NY.
The camp featured junior-aged prospects from the United States, Finland and Sweden who competed throughout the week in a round-robin format.
The U.S. began the week with 45 junior hopefuls, including Washington prospects Travis Boyd, Connor Carrick, Thomas Di Pauli and Garrett Haar. While Carrick was one of 11 American cuts midway through the week, Boyd, Di Pauli and Haar remained for the entire eight-day camp.
Haar played in the maximum six games but did not register a point while Carrick finished with one assist in three games.
Up front, Boyd and Di Pauli were used primarily as third and fourth line forwards. They each appeared in five games total, with Boyd recording a goal and three points, while Di Pauli was held without a point.
With the international camp complete, Boyd (sophomore, University of Minnesota), Di Pauli (freshman, Notre Dame) and Haar (sophomore, Western Michigan) will all return to school, while Carrick will return to the Ontario Hockey Leagues Plymouth Whalers.
Last weeks National Junior Evaluation Camp also featured Washingtons first-round pick (11th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft Filip Forsberg of Team Sweden.
The defending World Junior champion Swedes won three of their four games in Lake Placid, with Forsberg recording a goal and four points.
Forsberg turns 18 on Monday and will now return to Europe for the start of his third season of professional hockey in Sweden.
Many of these junior aged prospects will then meet again for the 2013 World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, from Dec.26 Jan.5.
Results from the 2012 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp are included below:
August 4USA White 5-USA Blue 2August 5USA Blue 4-USA White 3August 6USA Blue 5-Finland 4Sweden 5-USA White 1August 7Sweden 8-Finland 2August 8 USA 5-Finland 2August 9USA 10-Sweden 2August 10Sweden 5-Finland 2August 11Finland 3-USA 2 (OT)