Halverson, Buchnevich Off to Strong Starts in WJC Camps
By Matt Calamia
Just six weeks after being drafted by the Rangers in the second-round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, goaltender Brandon Halverson remains on the Team USA World Junior Championship summer development roster following the first-round of cuts that saw 15 players — including Rangers prospect Keegan Iverson — removed from the roster.
The tournament, which will take place in both Toronto and Montreal, begins Dec. 26 and runs through Jan. 5.
Halverson is now one of 27 players remaining on the Team USA roster.
Halverson, 18, was perfect on Sunday in Team USA Blue's 2-1 win over Finland in the opening game of Team USA's evaluation camp, stopping all eight shots he faced in 30:29 of ice time.
The Traverse City, Mich.-native followed it up by making 13 saves on 15 shots on Monday in the US' 6-2 loss against Sweden.
Halverson is one of four goaltenders remaining, and is joined by Brendan Burke, whom the Arizona Coyotes selected in the sixth-round of the 2013 draft and who last played for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL; Evan Cowley, whom the Florida Panthers chose in the fourth-round of the 2013 draft and who spent last season with the University of Denver; and Thatcher Demko, whom was selected in the second-round of the 2014 draft by the Vancouver Canucks.
Team USA will face Sweden on Wednesday before taking on Finland on Thursday. They close up their camp on Saturday with an afternoon game against the Czech Republic.
Russia on Monday defeated the Czech Republic, 5-0, with Rangers 2013 third-round selection Pavel Buchnevich picking up a pair of assists.
Buchnevich spent last season with Severstal of the Kontinental Hockey League, where he scored seven goals and 18 points in 40 games. While those numbers may not jump off the page, Buchnevich was playing in what Rangers Director, Player Personnel Gordie Clark recently said was the second-best League in the world behind the NHL.
"It's a very talented league, and for an 18-year-old kid to be playing in the KHL and producing ... it's a very high-skill league," Clark recently told BlueshirtsUnited. "He's had a pretty successful season and he played well in the World Juniors."
Rangers 2014 fourth-round pick, goaltender Igor Shestyorkin, is also on the camp roster for Russia but did not play Monday.
"He's a very high-end goaltender," Clark said at the draft of Shestyorkin.
Rangers 2013 third-round pick Anthony Duclair is set to skate with Team Canada, as they open up their play Tuesday night against the Czech Republic.
Duclair finished last season with 50 goals and 49 assists in 59 games last season with Quebec of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. His missed the final month of the regular season and playoffs, but has completely recovered from his concussion.
"It was a tough finish for him," Clark said. "He had 50 goals. We were looking to see him go deep in the playoffs and get that experience ... it didn't happen for him. We saw him a lot during the season, and he just ratched his speed up in the second-half, and that's what produced a lot of those goals."
At the time, Clark said he was hopeful Duclair would get some World Junior experience under his belt. The first step towards that begins Tuesday.