BOSTON -- The United States World Junior team finally got to look across the ice and see an opposing team after a week of practice at Boston University's Walter Brown Arena. The red, white and blue defeated the Terriers, 5-2, in what was a final chance to impress USA Hockey brass for some of the club's borderline players.
Team USA outshot BU, 15-1, in the first period, but it was two shorthanded tallies that gave Mark Osiecki's team a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. Boston College freshman defenseman Noah Hanifin and BU freshman Jack Eichel scored just 24 seconds apart to break the game open.
Chase DeLeo, J.T. Compher and Anthony DeAngelo also scored for Team USA while Brandon Hickey and Danny O'Regan tallied for the Terriers.
Regulars such as Auston Matthews, Dylan Larkin, Steve Santini and Ian McCoshen didn't dress as USA Hockey brass looked to evaluate some of the players more on the fringe of making the final roster for the tournament that gets underway the day after Christmas. Here's a look at some players that stood out in Friday's exhibition game, and we're going to exclude Eichel, who's obviously been chronicled many times here for good reason.
Noah Hanifin - The draft eligible '97 has made tremendous strides since the beginning of his freshman campaign just over two months ago. Let's remember the Needham, Mass. native should still be in high school, but his play on the ice certainly doesn't emulate that of a high schooler. He's poised and confident and does a very good job pushing the puck up ice. He reads plays well at both ends of the ice and steps into the rush. He's a tremendously fluid skater and has good hands.
Miles Wood - Not sure if he'll make the roster, but Friday night's performance certainly won't hurt his chances. He was lined up with Eichel on several shifts and looked very solid. As Mark Osiecki commented after the game, he didn't look like he's been playing against prep school competition all season. He's a real good skater and plays with an edge.
J.T. Compher - The Buffalo Sabres prospect has really impressed me in three viewings. He's a very good complete hockey player. He's deceptively fast, he plays well in both ends and seemingly has very good hockey IQ. He had six shots on goal Friday night, one of which went into the net.
Chase De Leo - Admittedly hadn't seen much of De Leo prior to last night as he plays for the WHL's Portland Winterhawks. He had a goal and two assists, but beyond that, despite his size, he wasn't afraid to go to the net and play in the scoring areas. He had some quick stick work and was very quick.
Michael McCarron - He got cut after the game, but the Montreal Canadiens draft pick impressed with his power game. He was a bull shooting into the offensive corners and using his strength down low cycling.
Sonny Milano - He had two assists and he really was flying when he had the puck. He's one of those dynamic players that this observer thought more than a few times last night that he would have made a difference if he had chosen BC instead of major junior.
Michael Downing - The University of Michigan defenseman isn't going to dazzle anyone with his moves, but he's very steady. He skates well, but nothing too flashy. He's very good one-on-one, he plays his gaps well and plays the body, but not anything unnecessary.
Jeremy Bracco - A '97 that is still on the fringe of making the team, he's really quick and is so dynamic with the puck on his stick. This observer was skeptical of his size until the USHL Atlantic Challenge. He's not going to overpower opposing defensemen, but he's quick and elusive. He makes some great passes from behind the goal line. The phrase, he can stick handle in a phone booth really applies to this BC recruit.
Brandon Hickey - If this observer had to pick one Terrier that played well defensively it was the Calgary Flames pick. He scored a goal on a one-time blast from the point, but he was the only BU defenseman that seemed to consistently, or at least more often than his teammates, stay with USA's blazing forwards.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.