By Ryan Nagelhout
Adam Clendening knows he needs to make the most of his last summer with the United States Under-20 hockey program.
So far he’s doing just that, scoring and adding an assist on the game-winning goal in overtime Monday in a 4-3 win against Sweden at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid.
Clendening is one of 44 Americans at the camp, which runs until Saturday and features intrasquad scrimmages and international games against teams from Finland and Sweden. The camp is essentially a tryout for the World Juniors team, a squad the Wheatfield native was one of the last cuts from before they took the ice in Buffalo last winter.
This year Clendening, a sophomore at Boston University, is determined to make the team.
“This is my last time I get a chance to do it,” Clendening said by phone on Monday. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s always fun to play for the U.S.”
Clendening picked up an assist for Blue on Saturday in the opening intrasquad scrimmage, then was held off the scoresheet on Sunday. Monday’s afternoon tilt against Sweden saw the defenseman score a breakaway goal out of the penalty box after picking up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second period.
“I actually got in the box for shooting after the whistle and scoring,” he said. “Then I came out of the box and caught a breakaway pass.”
Clendening then set up Vince Trocheck with 1:02 left in overtime to win it.
“I’m just trying to make a good first impression,” he said, noting a new coaching staff led by Dean Blais is getting a new look at the campers.
It’s been an eventful summer for Clendening, who was taken 36th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Entry Draft in June. The 6-foot, 195-pounder known for his deft scoring touch and quick feet.
With cuts scheduled for this morning, the Blue and White squads will become one team and play Finland and Sweden twice more. Clendening thinks he’s done enough to make it to the next evaluation period but remains cautious after last year’s disappointment.
“I would like to think so, but then again you never know,” he said. “I thought the same thing last year when it was in Rochester. It’s all up to them and you just have to sit it out and wait.”