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Joe Veleno brings professional mentality to Staff Canada

14 minutes read

TSN reporter Mark Masters checks in every day with information and notes on Staff Canada. The group practised at DRFG Area in Brno, Czech Republic on Friday. 

Did Joe Veleno have a welcome-to-the-pros second this season? 

“Yeah, I did,” the 19-year-old stated with a smile. “It took me lengthy sufficient to attain my first aim.”

Veleno’s first aim with the Grand Speedy Griffins did not come till his seventh recreation. It felt like an eternity for Veleno, who completed his closing QMJHL season in Drummondville with 104 factors in 59 video games. 

Veleno solely had two factors in his first 12 AHL video games. His longest level drought final season was two video games. 

“There are no days off,” Veleno stated of life within the AHL. “Each time they arrive to the rink it is time to work onerous and assist the group any means you may and that is the largest factor I’ve observed. It is an on a regular basis league and you bought to battle and play each recreation prefer it’s your final.”

The native of Kirkland, Que. has 5 objectives and 7 assists in 29 video games this season and whereas he is not producing like he did with the Voltigeurs, he now seems like a extra full participant. 

“That was the largest factor, simply being well-rounded and being that 200-foot participant even when it’s sacrificing the offence to be good defensively,” he stated. “If I am good defensively I will be on the ice extra and get extra alternative to have the puck on my stick and make performs.”

Staff Canada expects Veleno to drive the bus at each ends of the ice on the World Juniors. On Friday, he skated on the highest line with Rimouski’s Alexis Lafreniere and Kelowna sharpshooter Nolan Foote. Lafreniere and Veleno regarded nice collectively in the summertime on the World Junior Showcase. 

“He is actually quick, actually good, good hockey IQ,” Lafreniere stated. “He is so good offensively. So, for me, it is enjoyable. You simply get open and the puck will come.”

“They’re three large boys,” noticed Halifax defenceman Jared McIsaac, “defend the puck extraordinarily nicely they usually can all shoot the puck and make performs, so there’s rather a lot to that line that defencemen are going to have a tough time with.”

Veleno/Lafreniere drawing on present chemistry collectively on prime line
Joe Veleno has been a welcome addition to Canada’s prime unit in centre ice, taking part in alongside gifted wingers Alexis Lafreniere and Nolan Foote. Veleno has shortly established himself as an amazing match on the road, having beforehand performed with Lafreniere, who he appears to have a pure chemistry with on the ice.

The primary participant to be granted distinctive standing​ within the Quebec league, Veleno was in a position to play main junior hockey as a 15-year-old. It additionally allowed him to graduate to the AHL at 19.

Staff Canada believes that can give him a leg up as he makes a return to the junior recreation. 

“You possibly can see his maturity,” stated assistant coach André Tourigny. “The best way he carries himself, he appears like a professional. I had just a few chats with him. We talked about his season thus far, his expertise from final 12 months, his expectations and, all of it, you may see you are speaking with a extra mature individual from a 12 months in the past.”

Veleno captained Canada on the under-18 stage (2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup) and, as one in every of 5 returning gamers for Staff Canada at this 12 months’s World Juniors, will likely be leaned on for management within the Czech Republic. How motivated is he to avenge the sixth-place end final 12 months? 

“Extraordinarily,” he says. “We have been all annoyed and upset and, personally, I believe we might’ve carried out rather a lot higher and I believe this 12 months’s our likelihood … you simply by no means know when you are going to get one other alternative.”

Canada led final 12 months’s quarter-final towards Finland 1-Zero till the ultimate minute earlier than permitting the tying aim and dropping in extra time. That heartbreaker adopted a New Yr’s Eve loss to the Russians. Similar to  promising Three-Zero begin to the event become the worst-ever consequence on house ice and Veleno will not let the newcomers neglect the onerous classes realized. 

“All the blokes received to understand that it is such a brief event, fast turnarounds and something can occur,” Veleno stated. “The message goes to be to offer all of it each single recreation and each recreation’s necessary and each minute of the sport is necessary.”

Veleno displays on how AHL has helped him turn into a extra ‘full’ participant
Nineteen year-old Joe Veleno loved a prolific QMJHL profession, capped by a 104 level season with Drummondville in 2018. However regardless of his junior success, it has been his bounce the AHL stage that has had the largest affect on his recreation. Mark Masters has extra.

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Serving because the No. 2 goalie in Guelph the final couple seasons wasn’t enjoyable for Nico Daws, however it could have helped him on Thursday night time as he made his debut for Staff Canada coming in chilly midway by way of. 

“I’ve backed up for 2 years,” Daws stated with a smile, “so I’ve carried out that just a few instances earlier than.”

After watching Portland’s Joel Hofer present a clear sheet within the opening 30 minutes, Daws gave the impression to be locked in instantly.  

“I got here into the sport sturdy,” he stated. “That they had a pair good possibilities as quickly as I got here into the web and that undoubtedly raised my confidence.”

Handed over in June’s NHL draft, Daws has not solely established himself because the Storm’s go-to man this season, he is emerged as among the best junior goalies within the nation. The large query right here was how he would react to the strain of taking part in for Staff Canada for the primary time and doing it in Europe. 

What stood out? 

“Positively the larger ice,” Daws stated. “I’ve to be much more affected person on pucks. They’ve much more time than you suppose and you need to make your changes on angles, however aside from that nothing too completely different.”

Hofer was in the identical place having by no means performed for Canada previous to Thursday. 

“It is a particular feeling and one thing I am going to bear in mind for the remainder of my life,” the Blues prospect stated. “There’s going to be nerves, however you bought to simply accept it and play your recreation. I performed fairly calm in there. I did not overdo issues. I simply performed my recreation and it went nicely.”

Hunter on performances of goalies Daws, Hofer: ‘They each performed nicely’
Staff Canada head coach Dale Hunter discusses what he realized about goalies Nico Daws and Joel Hofer from their mixed shutout efficiency, how spectacular Dawson Mercer continues to be, the group’s total construction of their pre-tournament win towards Switzerland, and way more.

The one hiccup for both goalie got here within the shootout. Canada gained in regulation Three-Zero, however each groups agreed to play a four-on-four extra time and maintain a shootout to arrange for the event. 

Daws allowed three objectives on 5 photographs as Canada fell Three-2. Instantly after the sport, Daws huddled with goalie coach Jason LaBarbera and marketing consultant Lyle Mast to deal with the problem. 

What’s the important thing within the shootout? 

“Simply having a plan,” Daws stated. “I’ve by no means actually been an amazing shootout goalie and we’re going to work on it this week. They’ve a pair pointers that they wish to work with me on and I am certain it’s going to be a simple repair.”

Daws has solely stopped 19 of 30 makes an attempt within the OHL (63.Three per cent) and is 9 of 14 this season.

Hofer has stopped 24 of 33 makes an attempt within the WHL (72.7 per cent), together with 10 of 13 this season. 

Oilers prospect Olivier Rodrigue, who didn’t costume on Thursday, has stopped 24 of 34 makes an attempt within the QMJHL (70.6 per cent), together with all three this season. 

Larger ice was an adjustment for Daws
After combining with Joel Hofer for a shutout in Canada’s first pre-tournament recreation, goaltender Nico Daws explains how the larger ice was an adjustment, how difficult it was to come back in halfway by way of the sport, what he felt he did nicely towards Switzerland, and extra.

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Whereas Daws continues to be making an attempt to resolve the shootout, Ty Dellandrea appears to have it found out. 

“He is very affected person,” Daws famous. “He’ll wait so that you can chew first and as quickly as you do, it is over. He’ll put it in.”

Canada has labored on shootouts throughout each follow and the Flint centre has been a stand-out performer. In Thursday’s recreation he was one in every of two Canadians to attain, becoming a member of Lafreniere. 

“It is a large a part of this event,” Dellandrea stated, “so if we’d like a man to attain then I really feel snug with the ability to go in there and rating.”

How did he turn into snug in shootouts? 

“Simply quite a lot of reps, quite a lot of practise and studying off different gamers,” he defined.

Who does Dellandrea get pleasure from watching? 

“I like to look at (T.J.) Oshie,” he stated with a smile referencing the American star who placed on a present on the Sochi Olympics. “He is fairly good within the shootout.”

Dellandrea additionally scored on his one try within the OHL this season, however previous to that had been Zero/6. 

Listed here are the profession CHL numbers for Staff Canada’s prime skaters: 

Quinton Byfield Three/four (75 per cent)

Lafreniere four/eight (50 per cent)

Veleno Three/6 (50 per cent)

Barrett Hayton half of (50 per cent)

Akil Thomas 6/13 (46.2 per cent)

Aidan Dudas Three/7 (42.9 per cent)

Foote 5/12 (41.7 per cent)

Jared McIsaac 2/6 (33.Three per cent) 

Dellandrea on taking part in with Dudas and Foudy: ‘I like how briskly we’re’
Staff Canada ahead Ty Dellandrea offers his ideas on how he feels his line fared of their first recreation collectively, how briskly his linemates Aidan Dudas and Liam Foudy are, how snug he takes half in shootouts, and extra.

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At each follow, the shootout work is become a contest. The group is break up into two teams and the quickest to attain eight pucks wins, with the dropping group going for a skate across the rink. If a participant scores then they maintain going till there is a miss or save. All of the defencemen are on one aspect paired with one ahead line, whereas the opposite three ahead traces type the opposite group. 

You’d suppose the defence-dominated group would wrestle, however that hasn’t been the case. Are the coaches stunned?

“To be sincere, sure,” stated Tourigny with a chuckle. “It began as a little bit little bit of a joke on the ice. We put the defencemen on the aspect and stated, ‘Which line needs to be with the defencemen?’ And all people was trying elsewhere and since then all people needs to be with the defencemen. They’ve gained virtually all of them. They’ve just a few good shooters on the market.”

McIsaac regarded so good in follow that he was chosen to be one of many shooters towards the Swiss.

“I suppose I have a little bit little bit of a contact within the shootout,” stated McIsaac. “The goalie made an excellent save final night time. I put it the place I wished to.”

On Friday, the shootout competitors got here all the way down to the wire with the defence group, which included the second line (Quinton Byfield, Barrett Hayton, Raphael Lavoie and Dylan Cozens), dropping by one. However Jacob Bernard-Docker and Ty Smith transformed on a pair good strikes whereas Kevin Bahl additionally put one in. 

Canada Ice Chips: Defencemen strutting their stuff in shootout drills
Canada’s struggles in shotoouts on the World Juniors have been well-documented so it has been a degree of emphasis throughout follow, however as Mark Masters explains, it hasn’t been the stud forwards which have been standing out, slightly the defencemen which have been showcasing their expertise and holding their very own.

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Whereas the defencemen look fairly good within the shootout, they nonetheless have work to do relating to even-strength play. 

“Our D corps yesterday have been okay,” Tourigny stated. “We might be higher. Our goalie made key saves at key moments. If I have a look at all our D, possibly Jamie Drysdale would possibly’ve been our greatest defenceman. The opposite guys have been high quality, they have been no downside, however I do know they’ve one other stage.”

The projected shutdown pair of Bahl and Bernard-Docker struggled to exit the zone at instances. Tourigny identified it takes a bit longer for defence pairs to generate chemistry. 

“As quickly as we received a little bit little bit of pushback from the Swiss and we have been in our zone, you want that chemistry, that confidence, that communication together with your companion,” the 67’s head coach famous, “and I believe we’ll get higher and begin to construct that chemistry between these pairings. We had an excellent assembly this morning as nicely to type out just a few conditions, just a few gray areas, so we’ll be higher.”

Defencemen pushing the puck up ice was on show for Canada
Gord Miller and Ray Ferraro discusses how Canada’s defencemen have been seeking to push the puck up the ice within the group’s pre-tournament recreation towards Switzerland, and why Calen Addison was the participant who stood out probably the most within the victory.

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Dellandrea, London’s Liam Foudy and Owen Sound’s Aidan Dudas fashioned Canada’s most constant line within the pre-tournament opener. They play towards one another within the OHL and performed collectively within the Russia collection. 

“You place them collectively they usually buzz,” stated Daws. “They’re all good buddies they usually love taking part in collectively.”

“I like how briskly we’re and the way all of us work onerous and work collectively,” stated Dellandrea. “They’re extraordinarily quick. They’re all the time above the puck, however once we get a break they’re taking off they usually’re going quick.”

Sidelined with a damaged finger on his left hand throughout the choice camp, Dudas was taking part in for the primary time since Nov. 29, however did not look rusty in any respect. 

“No, by no means,” agreed Dellandrea. “You could not even inform he was harm. It is enjoyable to play with a man like that. He is all the time so onerous on the puck and he is loud and you’ll hear him in all places so it makes it simple for everybody.”

Dudas completed with two assists, the one Canadian to put up a multi-point night time. 

“He has quite a lot of vitality on the market,” stated coach Dale Hunter. “He is throughout prime of the puck. He is a real employee with talent. They’re onerous to play towards. They’re all on prime of the puck. In the event you’re a talented man you wouldn’t wish to play towards them as a result of they’re hounding on a regular basis.”

Dudas shines as Canada kicks off World Junior tune-ups with shutout victory
Coming into World Junior pre-tournament motion, questions remained across the well being of Aidan Dudas who has been coping with a damaged finger. These questions have been answered in Canada’s first tune-up recreation as Dudas shined towards the Swiss. TSN Hockey analyst Bob McKenzie joins James Duthie to debate Dudas’ incredible play and the Canadians’ shootout woes.

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With Veleno becoming a member of the group, there at the moment are 14 forwards in Canada’s camp and somebody has to go quickly. 

Amongst these guys on the bubble, nobody appeared to assist their trigger extra on Thursday than Dawson Mercer. Initially listed because the 13th ahead, the Drummondville winger ended the night time with the game-winning aim, a nifty deflection off a Drysdale shot. 

“He works onerous and he can play any place,” noticed Hunter, “he can play proper wing or left wing or centre, in order that’s an added benefit and, additionally, he is tenacious on the puck.”

Not invited to the World Junior Showcase in the summertime, the draft-eligible Mercer has all the time been an underdog on this course of, however impressed within the choice camp and retains discovering methods to face out.  

The harm to Dudas led Canada to carry an additional ahead abroad and stored Mercer within the combine. 

“It is a part of hockey nowadays,” he stated of the tense situation. “Taking part in for Canada on the World Juniors, there’s quite a lot of competitors right here, however I wish to be certain I put my greatest foot ahead and I really feel like I am simply going to offer it my all.”

Niagara’s Akil Thomas and Halifax’s Benoit-Olivier Groulx additionally seem like on unsure floor because the administration group makes a closing willpower. 

“We can’t carry a man simply to hold a man,” Tourigny stated, “however on the identical time we wish to be certain we take the best resolution.”

Mercer suggestions in Drysdale’s level shot to open the scoring for Canada
Taking over Switzerland in pre-tournament motion, Dawson Mercer opens the scoring for Canada, tipping house Jamie Drysdale’s level shot to offer the Canadians an early lead.

 

Strains at Friday’s follow: 

Lafreniere-Veleno-Foote

Byfield/Lavoie-Hayton-Cozens 

Foudy-Dellandrea-Dudas

McMichael-Groulx-Thomas/Mercer

 

McIsaac-Smith

Bahl-Bernard-Docker

Byram-Addison

Drysdale (R)

 

Daws 

Hofer

Rodrigue

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