CANMORE – Rising prospect Finn McLaughlin made the cut for USA Hockey’s U17 Five Nations roster.
The 16-year-old defenceman from Canmore, who has dual citizenship, was one of 20 players selected for the tournament taking place from Aug. 9-13 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The United States is the defending champs of the tournament and the mission for 2022 is clear.
“Definitely win a gold medal,” said McLaughlin. “That’s the main goal. Just going in and playing my best hockey and helping the team win a gold medal.”
At the 2022 Athletix U17 Five Nations Tournament, the best hockey prospects from the United States, Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland compete in a round-robin style to determine the winner.
McLaughlin, a 2021 draft pick of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, was intrigued to tie up his skates and try-out for the stars and stripes at the USA Hockey's Boys Select 16 Player Development Camp in New York state, which has a high-level of coaching from NCAA Div. 1 to USA Hockey reps instructing the nation’s brightest prospects.
“There’s 180 kids and 10 teams, so I just came in thinking to work as hard as I can and see what happens,” said McLaughlin. “It’s all the best players from the United States, so it’s really high level – especially the all-star game.”
The Canmore prospect with a high hockey IQ impressed the brass and earned a spot at the camp's all-star game. He played his role efficiently, whether it be bringing leadership and energy, with puck-handling and creating opportunities for his team, or if the five-foot-11 blueliner was dishing out hits and shutting down the other team, he was one of the stand outs.
“That’s probably one of the more fun games I’ve ever played because of how good it was,” he said.
As Five Nations returns to the U.S. this August, McLaughlin said comes with a bit of pressure for the defending champs.
“You obviously want to represent the country really well and win a gold medal, so there’s a little bit of that, but nothing I can’t handle,” McLaughlin said. “And we’ve all kind of grown up on different teams with different types of stress and pressure on us so everyone can handle it really well.”
The United States will first faceoff against Germany on Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. MST. All games will be streamed on Hockey TV.
A schedule of games is on https://teamusa.usahockey.com.
Last year, the local defenceman helped Alberta's U16 team win silver at the WHL Cup.
Then while playing for the Windy City AAA Storm in Chicago last season, he was selected in the eighth round (175th overall) of the WHL draft by Saskatoon. However, the teenager will suit up for the hometown Junior A Canmore Eagles this upcoming season.
“I talked to all the Eagles coaches and they’re extremely excited for me,” said McLaughlin. “I’m really excited for the season with them.”