Ice Hockey

Seamus Casey exhibits growth at World Junior camp


PLYMOUTH — Watching freshman defenseman Seamus Casey play with the Michigan hockey group, you’ll be able to instantly spot his elite edge work. You can too see how shortly he develops performs within the offensive zone. And naturally, his elite palms will dazzle you.

However what lies beneath that floor is how a lot Casey has grown since becoming a member of the Wolverines. Killing performs within the defensive zone, transferring the puck to open shooters or outworking his opponents alongside the boards — Casey’s sport is much extra full now than it was 4 months in the past.

And that progress ties into Casey’s mindset.

“The most important factor, he’s simply defending higher,” USA coach Rand Pecknold stated after the primary US World Junior choice camp observe on Monday. “He’s at all times been an elite participant; … He’s maturing at a pleasant fee; He’s making actually good selections, whether or not it’s retrievals, the powerplay — I assumed he was glorious.”

Statistically, the outcomes leap off the web page. In accordance with knowledge compiled by Elite Prospects’ Lassi Alanen, Casey is the perfect statistical defenseman in school hockey. He ranks within the nation’s high tier for particular person anticipated objectives created, notably standing out for his zone entry skills.

However greater than only a growth specifically expertise, Casey’s enchancment comes from his response to raised competitors. In comparison with his time with the U.S. Nationwide Workforce Improvement Program, a half season enjoying higher opponents on the collegiate degree has stored his sport trustworthy.

“Studying the right way to play bodily each shift, each time — it may be robust,” Casey stated. “School, in a great way, forces you to at all times (play) a number of huge, sturdy, quick gamers. You gotta be bodily on a regular basis with the puck.”

Coaches are taking discover. Pecknold seen seen enchancment in Casey’s efficiency on this week’s coaching camp in comparison with when he coached him in July’s Nationwide Junior Analysis Camp. Whereas he preferred Casey again then, his progress stands out now.

Contemplating how he approaches his weaknesses, that’s no shock. When requested how a lot Casey has improved after Wednesday’s coaching camp practices, freshman ahead Gavin Brindley considered his longtime good friend by a wider lens.

“It’s gonna sound loopy, however when (Casey) was little, he used to attempt to stickhandle and this man (had) the worst palms I’ve ever seen in my life,” Brindley stated, chuckling somewhat as he reminisced. “Now, he’s simply labored his complete life on his edges in his palms. And now I imply, he in all probability has arguably a number of the greatest palms and greatest edges within the nation. He makes guys miss on the market on a regular basis.”

Similar to how he overhauled his stick expertise over his profession — Casey claimed that Brindley used to name him The Ginsu Chef for his uneven puck dealing with — Casey’s progress mindset stays on the forefront with the Wolverines. Earlier than the season in July, he set a aim to lift his defensive sport, addressing an space that scouts criticized earlier than the NHL draft. 

If anybody pinned a nickname on Casey’s outdated defensive play as properly, it wouldn’t be a becoming moniker anymore. As a result of since then, Casey’s sport has proven a concerted effort to handle that space. In lots of video games this season, Casey’s sturdy play close to the boards and bodily presence in open ice has created possessions for his group. Alongside together with his skating and palms, Casey has used that defensive play to be a zone entry machine.

Casey’s first half of the season exhibits he isn’t backing down from the problem of growth. As a result of in a mere 5 months since July, he’s made himself an all-around higher participant by concentrating on perceived weaknesses.

And with half a season left on deck, he’s solely trying to find his subsequent problem.



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