M Downing shaking hands pregame. Taller than all the refs... nice.
I had the pleasure of attending the U17 5 nations tournament last night in A2. Team USA's captain is the newest UM hockey commit Michael Downing. He is every bit as big as advertised, just needs to fill out a bit, which will not be an issue as he only recently turned 16.
In his own zone, he was physical showing a quick stick and a bit of a nastiness to his game. His break out was good, both passing and skating, will just need to improve on the quickness of his decisions in this area as he move up competition. His skating was very good and he used it to jump into the offensive rush on several occasions. He was part of the first PP unit and scored a PP goal as he crashed the net, grabbed a rebound, made a move and roofed it from in tight. Showed some real nice hands for a big kid and a Defense man at that. Did all that
In short, I was very impressed with the kids game and size. And the coaches must be impressed with some intangibles to have named him captain. To my untrained eye UM is getting (please no more defections) a very good one.
I was also impressed with a couple other kids. Big forward Michael Turner showed great hands, with decent skating - this look to be a little awkward maybe due to recent growth spurt? But when he fills out and gets his feet under him, he will be tough to stop.
Adam Erne was also very good. Always seemed to be around the net with a good control on the puck. Another kid with some size, seems to have grown into it a little quicker than Turner.
The Goaltender Demko was top notch. Big kid, stayed square to shooters, only let one in. Was very good at controlling the puck for the most part, smothering it when needed, kicking it way out or deflecting it up into the netting. i think he was 6-3.. little different look than UM has currently.
Lastly, my favorite kid to watch was Daniel Vanderwiel. A little shorter, but very well built and loved to use it. Several nice open ice hits, rubbed guys out along the boards. Was very physical all game long. The Czech players were looking out for him all game. Just has to do a better job of controlling the puck once he crushes the puck carrier and holding it along the boards, then you might have a little Tkachuk on your hands.
Saw a ton of NCAA coaches there including Billy Powers. Hopefully he was making some inroads with a few of the other kids.