Lampman and Hollweg will play in WJCs

By Brandon LeBourveau

Two recent draft picks of the New York Rangers, Bryce Lampman and Ryan Hollweg, made the final roster for the USA Junior team that will compete in the upcoming World Junior Championships. This year’s tournament takes place in the Czech Republic during late December and early January.

Bryce Lampman, a 19-year-old native of Minnesota, was the captain and a stud defenseman for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL last season. Drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round (113th overall) this past June, Lampman had to make a difficult decision this summer concerning where he would be playing for this season. He had the option to play in juniors with the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL, or head to college and play for the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. In a move that was easily foreseeable, Lampman chose to take the college route, and so far it seems to have paid off for him.

Photo Courtesy of the University of Nebraska-Omaha

Lampman has suited up for 16 games so far with the Mavericks, and has registered 3 assists and 22 penalty minutes along with a -2 rating. The numbers do not exactly stand out at you, but most of the time statistics do not tell the true story. He is the youngest defenseman for the Mavericks, and unless you are a phenom, colleges most of the time give more ice-time to the older players. Such is the case with Lampman. He hasn’t received as much ice-time as some of his teammates, but he’s made his presence felt while he’s on the ice. Lampman is certainly not the biggest defenseman at 6’1 193 lbs, but he plays with tons of grit and character that sometimes can be a rarity among younger players. Lampman’s game is simple. He’s a stay-at-home, tough, physical defenseman, something that the Rangers have been lacking in their system for quite some time.

Lampman participated for team USA in a tournament that took place over the summer, and according to Rangers’ assistant GM Don Maloney, the 19-year-old defenseman was clearly not out of place. Maloney was quick to point out how impressive Lampman had played, and even mentioned that he looked better on the ice than most of the defensemen out there that were drafted higher than he was. Unfortunately he didn’t mention exactly which defensemen he was talking about, but that comment still should count for something.

Playing for team USA during the highly scouted and anticipated World Junior Championship will be an extremely valuable experience for the 19-year-old. Not many youngsters get the chance to play in this tournament, and it is an excellent opportunity for Lampman improve his stock if he can put up an outstanding performance. The Americans are certainly looking to take home a gold-medal, and with Ottawa Senators’ prospect Tim Gleason turning down an invitation to play for team USA, somebody will have to step up on the blue line, and that player perhaps could be Lampman.

Ryan Hollweg making the final roster is a bit more of a surprise than Lampman. Not that Hollweg hasn’t earned the opportunity, because he has.

Hollweg is currently in his third season in the WHL, all with the Medicine Hat Tigers. This season he is off to a very impressive start and has raised a few eyebrows with his offensive production. Through 30 games, Hollweg has hit the back of the net 14 times and has assisted on 19 others for a total of 33 points. Top that off with 67 penalty minutes and you see why Hollweg has been a force for the Tigers this season. He is only 25 points shy of his career best, and with about 40 games left in the regular season he should be able to set a new high for himself. His lack of size was a big reason for his drop in the draft, but there’s no doubting this kid’s heart and character. He definitely stood out at the rookie camp in Kitchener, Ontario for the Rangers in early September, and has continued that success in the WHL.Courtesy of Eugene Erick, Double E Photography

It remains to be seen exactly how much ice time Hollweg will receive. A motivated Hollweg can be really dangerous. Count on him playing a fiesty, two-way game and giving it his all every shift. The Russians, Czechs and Canadians are always the favorites, but if the US team can get some strong goaltending and stellar play from the blue line, they might have a chance at doing some damage. The Americans kick off the tournament Christmas day against the hosts, team Czech Republic.