LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Forty-four hockey players from across the country will try to make a quick, good first impression over the next couple of days at the national junior evaluation camp at the Olympic Training Center.

If they don't impress, they will be gone.

The 44 players will be divided into two teams, Blue and White, and play games against Finland and Sweden.

On Aug. 6, Gophers coach Don Lucia and his staff, will cut the roster in half and the camp will continue with games against the same two opponents, plus Canada.

Eventually, the top players at this camp will get together again in December for the World Junior Championships. Lucia will be the head coach of that team.

The Blue team has four Minnesotans: defensemen Brady Skjei of Lakeville and Gage Ausmus of East Grand Forks, and forwards Hudson Fasching of Burnsville and Dominic Toninato of Duluth.

Skjei will be a sophomore for the Gophers this coming season, Fasching a freshman. Skjei was one of the last players cut from the U.S. team which won the gold medal in Ufa, Russia, at the 2013 World Juniors. He should be a strong candidate to stick this time.

Both Fasching and Ausmus played for the under-18 U.S. national team last season. Ausmus has committed to North Dakota. Toninato, who is going to Minnesota Duluth this fall, played for the Fargo Force of the USHL last season.

The White team at Lake Placid has six Minnesotans, including three who will be freshmen at the U: defensemen Mike Brodzinski of Ham Lake and Tom Vannelli of Minnetonka and forward Taylor Cammarata of Plymouth.

Brodzinski played for Muskegon of the USHL last season, Vannelli split time between Minnetonka High School and the under-18 U.S. team and Cammarata led the USHL in scoring playing with Waterloo.

Other state-raised players  on the White team are goalie Collin Olson of Apple Valley, forward Jake Guentzel of Woodbury and forward Zach Stepan of Hastings.

Olson will be a sophomore at Ohio State this season, Guentzel, the son of Gophers associate head coach Mike Guentzel, played for Sioux City of the USHL, and Stepan was a linemate of Cammarata's at Waterloo.

Guentzel will be a freshman at Nebraska-Omaha, where his father recently coached before returning to the U. Stepan will be a freshman at Minnesota State Mankato.

Camp schedule

Sat., Aug. 3

USA Blue Practice, 8 - 8:45 a.m. (CDT)

USA White Practice 9 - 9:45 a.m.

Sweden Practice 10 - 11:30 a.m.

Finland Practice 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

USA White/Blue Practice 4 - 5 p.m.

Sun., Aug. 4

Sweden Practice 7:15 - 7:45 a.m.

USA Blue Practice 8 - 8:30 a.m.

Finland Practice 8:45 - 9:15 a.m.

USA White vs. Sweden 12 p.m.

USA Blue vs. Finland 3 p.m.


Mon., Aug. 5

USA White Practice 8 - 8:30 a.m.

Finland Practice 8:45 - 9:15 a.m.

USA Blue vs. Sweden 12 p.m.

USA White vs. Finland 3 p.m.



Days to Gophers' first game in Ice Breaker vs. Mercyhurst: 70

Days until first practice, presumably Sat., Oct. 5: 64

College and state hockey preseason blog No. 4.