BOSTON -- Many times during this week's U.S. National Junior Camp at Boston University's Walter Brown Arena, it has been said the World Junior Championship is "a 19-year-old's tournament."
Entering his second year gunning for a spot on the World Junior roster, Minnesota sophomore Hudson Fasching is 19 but feels like a grizzled veteran.
"It's definitely one of the deeper teams (I've been on), one of the younger teams too which is what's surprising," the Buffalo Sabres prospect from Apple Valley, Minn. said. "I feel old for the first time in a long time. I was like 'Woah, this is something different.' "
Much has been made about Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews as top prospects leading each of the next two NHL Draft classes but there's one camp invitee who has flown under the radar while leaving a solid impression on the higher-ups over the course of the week.
The camp has been an eye-opening experience for Noble and Greenough School's Miles Wood who has made the short trip from Dedham, Mass. to join the 30-player pool for his first-ever USA Hockey event.
Wood has more than a year on several of his teammates but has not had the wealth of international experience as Eichel, Matthews and the like.
"I got a call (from general manager Jim Johannson) and I was just shocked," Wood said. "I was so surprised but at the same time, really thankful for the opportunity that they were about to hand me so I have to just make the best of it from here on out."
Through the first three days of practice, he has certainly lived up to his word and the coaching staff has been impressed with his game and maturity. Head coach Mark Osiecki admitted to the media that he didn't know much about the Buffalo, N.Y. native before camp, but his game is definitely an asset to the team.
"You see his size, just his physical stature is unbelievable," Osiecki said. "But his skating really, you notice. You wouldn't look at (his age and still being in prep school) at all. He jumped on the ice and fit right in, so that's hats off to him."
Wood, whose father Randy played more than 700 games in the NHL, did not attend the Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y. in August because of his situation as a prep school student at Nobles, but Johannson said he was on USA Hockey's radar from the outset and his stock seemed to rise as time ticked closer to the camp roster selection.
As a newcomer to such a high level of hockey, the camp will be a major factor in his development.
"I know his camp with New Jersey went well, so the more we thought about it we said we had to get him to this level of competition and see if his game rises up," Johannson said. "For us, these first four days are really critical for him to be playing at this level but also to see what kind of impact he can make here."
Of course, he is hoping for the best in regards to a spot on the team that will compete in Montreal but he has learned quite a bit about the finer points of the game over just a short time.
There is so much skill among the 30 players in camp so the role as he knows it from his prep school team has changed a bit. "Playing high school hockey, I'm kind of the guy they rely on to score," Wood said, "but they have the (Jack) Eichels and the (Dylan) Larkins here. This camp has showed me that D-zone is such a big part of this game."
Regardless of the outcome following next week's pre-tournament games when rosters are cut, he is humbled for the invite and thankful to everyone has supported him, whether he expected their correspondence or not.
"My phone's just been going crazy," he said. "Family friends, friends, friends of dad's. This past month, it's been crazy, just getting calls from people I really haven't talked to in a while. I didn't know I had that much support out there and these guys are pulling for me. Hopefully I can do them well."
John Hayden is excited to have the opportunity to focus on hockey and compete for a spot on the final roster. But especially so after what he went through last week.
"I had four exams to take care of, and a couple papers," said the Yale product and Greenwich, Conn. native.
That sounds exactly like what most college students have had to deal with over the past several weeks, so he's certainly relieved to have a one-track mind for a little bit. "I wasn't home at all," Hayden said of his short break so far. "I was in New Haven, just in the rink and the library for about a week and a half."
The Yale sophomore is the first ECAC player to secure a camp invite since the 2013 World Junior Championship when fellow Ivy Leaguers Cole Bardreau (Cornell) and Jimmy Vesey (Harvard) joined Union's Shayne Gostisbehere.
There was a great deal of excitement around the team on Thursday as they will take the short trip to Fenway Park for dinner and a guest appearance by 1980 "Miracle" Olympic Team member (and BU legend) Mike Eruzione.
Osiecki joked that he may have to preempt Eruzione's speech with a little video, but as a New Englander Hayden is not one who needs the introduction.
"I'm looking forward to it, obviously. Any time you get an opportunity to meet someone like that, it's an honor," the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks draftee said. "It means a lot (to wear the same USA crest). Even though I did it for two years (with the National Team Development Program), it's still the same feeling and you have a lot of responsibility when you put that jersey on."