TORONTO – If their performance in Toronto is any indication, several of Team USA’s young stars have no trouble performing on the big stage at Vancouver 2010.
L.A. Kings captain Dustin Brown, an alternate captain with the American squad, contributed three assists, including one on teammate and countryman Jack Johnson’s goal, as the Kings dropped the Maple Leafs 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Goalie Jonathan Quick, also selected to represent Team USA in Vancouver, stopped 25 shots for the win.
Brown was an absolute buzz saw against Toronto, giving Team USA coach Ron Wilson and American GM Brian Burke a firsthand account of his capabilities.
Brown won puck battles all over the ice and showed soft hands in setting up three L.A. goals. That sort of effort typifies what the energetic forward brings to the table every night.
“(Brown) played fantastic for us tonight,” said Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, a Team Canada member who had a goal and an assist Tuesday.
“That’s why he’s our captain, he’s our leader. When he’s playing his best, he leads the way and we all follow.”
And that’s why the Ithaca, N.Y., native will wear a letter for the Americans at his first Olympics, something his Kings coach Terry Murray says he’s more than qualified to do.
“His leadership is, for the most part, what he brings on the ice, in practice, in the games,” Murray said. “He’s a hard player, heavy guy, gets big hits, can really rally the team when they’re off their game and at the same time can put the puck in the net or make a play.
“He’s well deserving of the ‘A’ for Team USA.”
Despite being just 25 years old, Brown almost carries veteran status on an American team packed with quality, young players. The influx of youth has caused many to dub the Americans underdogs heading into the tournament, but Brown believes the stars and stripes can shine in February.
Brown noted the presence of Buffalo Sabres star goalie Ryan Miller gives the team a great starting point, not to mention a roster dotted with electric young talents like Zach Parise, Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel.
“We’re going there to win, I think that’s everyone’s goal,” he said. “Whether we’re the underdogs or not, it’s a short tournament, there’s a lot of pressure on a lot of teams and maybe we don’t have (as much).
“You get playing at the right time, you get a hot goalie, anything can happen.”