New Jersey Devils Prospects College Roundup - Blake Pietila makes the US World Junior Team

A look at Blake Pietila on the United States World Junior team playing for the IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.

The college hockey scene was quiet last weekend due to the holiday, but there was one prospect in action. Blake Pietila was named to the US Junior Team for the IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. In two pre-tournament games USA went 1-1, beating Sweden 3-2 in overtime and losing 5-1 to Finland. Pietila is playing on the wing of the third line with Ryan Hartman and Cole Bardreau in the center. This will be the major checking line on the team with an offensive upside.

The tournament began this morning and all US games will be televised on NHL Network along with NHl.com. Here is a look at how Pietila is performing so far in the competition.

In the first pre-tourney game against Sweden, Pietila was kept off the score sheet, but he did have a few good looks on the ice. US coach Phil Housley was happy with the entire team performance, especially on the power play and penalty kill.

Pietila had a more noticeable performance in the second game against Finland, although US lost. Blake scored the lone goal of the game. It was a rebound goal assisted by Winnipeg Jets prospect Jacob Trouba of the University of Michigan. At the time, the United States was down 3-0 in the third period and the goal seemed to change momentum before Finland took advantage of a powerplay later in the period. According to NHL.com, any momentum gained by Pietila's goal was lost due to the penalty taken by the only other Devils prospect in the game, Stefan Matteau. He was given a two-minute penalty and a game misconduct for a hit to the head. Coach Housley was not happy with the number of penalties taken in the game.

Due to the tournament, Pietila is missing the Great Lakes Invitational with Michigan Tech. It will be a tough contest for the Huskies without Pietila - he has ten goals, which is twice as much as anyone else on the team. Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson is excited for the opportunity for Pietila, though. Before the final roster was announced he said,

"I hope we lose Blake. I hope he gets the opportunity to represent his country. It'd be a great honor for Blake and our program. We'd be very happy for him. He's maybe our best player right now, our best forward, to lose him will be tough, but at Michigan we went through that a lot. We lost a lot of good players and other guys have to step in and they usually do and play well. We'll have the same situation at Tech."

The first game for the United States is today against Germany. It began at 9 a.m. EST and is being shown again at 8 p.m. EST on the NHL Network. After the second period, USA is winning 6-0. Pietila has two assists - the first was on Jacob Trouba's goal, the second of the game and the second was on Hartman's rebound goal, the sixth of the game. He is being used all over the place, including the penalty kill. His line with Bardreau and Hartman is a fun one to watch. They are full of energy and are very fast.

They will be facing Russia tomorrow at 9 a.m. EST, as well. Here is the rest of the US schedule for the tournament:

Date

Opponent

Time (EST)

Dec. 20

Sweden (Exhib.)

W, 3-2 OT

Dec. 22

Finland (Exhib.)

L, 1-5

Dec. 27

Germany

9 a.m.

Dec. 28

Russia

9 a.m.

Dec. 30

Canada

4:30 a.m.

Dec. 31

Slovakia

5 a.m.

Jan. 2

Quarterfinals

TBD

Jan. 3

Semifinals

TBD

Jan. 5

Gold Medal Game

TBD


Will you be following the WJC this week? What do you expect to see from Pietila throughout the contest? Do you think USA can capture a medal for the fourth time in five years? Feel free to discuss Pietila's performance or anything else regarding the World Junior Championships below. Thanks for reading!

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