Hello, I'm back to tell you about one of the most memorable months in my hockey career. A lot of amazing things happened at the World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, British Columbia, at the start of November.
But first, I want to share a little about my team, the Youngstown Phantoms. The month of November has been a huge rollercoaster for us. We started the month in a slump and couldn’t dig ourselves out until about two weeks ago. The biggest problem was our consistency in bearing down and capitalizing on the chances we had. The team, including me, has had so many chances but has not produced enough from them.
I believe the answer to this starts in practice, so we've concentrated on increasing our intensity in front of the net during practice in order to carry it over in games. Lately the team really has picked it up. We are on a 3-game win streak with two of those being away games. I felt Chicago was one of the biggest games to win so far because we are so close to them in the standings and they have been playing well. Personally, the game was a lot of fun because my whole family including my brother, who was home from the Air Force Academy, got to come up and see me play!
I'm happy with how the team has worked hard to get back on track and I feel that we are doing everything possible to have a successful season and winning record.
The World Junior A Challenge was incredible. The team was a great group of guys. It was amazing to bring a team of all USHL players together and see how well we got along and played even though we all are used to playing against each other.
The tournament went exactly how we wanted it to until we hit a little bump in the gold medal game against Canada East. After allowing only one goal in each of the first three games and scoring five or more, we ended up going down 4-1 halfway through the game. What surprised me was how positive we all stayed. None of us, including me, ever thought we wouldn't win that game, even when we were down a goal with about five minutes left. We scored three late goals to win, 6-4.
To win a gold medal for the USA was the most amazing and unforgettable event in my hockey career. I'll never forget throwing our gloves up at the buzzer or standing there with our arms around each other singing our national anthem. Every guy on the team represented our country with respect and pride, and really, that is the most important thing about the experience.
Along with the gold, Jimmy Mullin (Fargo Force) and I were selected to the tournament all-star team. I was also named MVP of the tournament. The individual awards were a huge honor, but hockey is a team sport, and the guys around me really helped me. I knew that if I made a mistake, the rest of the team was there to pick me up. Every guy on the team played great.
I'm happy about the gold medal and the individual recognition, but most of all, I'm happy about the friends I made throughout the whole experience. I'm looking foreword to playing with and against all of them this year and in the future.
The Central Scouting preliminary ratings came out right after I got back from Canada. It feels good to be so high (No. 4 among USHL skaters) on the list when there are so many great players in the USHL this year. Although it is amazing to be rated for 2011 NHL Entry Draft, I know that it doesn't mean anything if I don't perform. What matters is being the best you can on the ice and helping your team every single game.
December should be a great month. We're playing better and are looking forward to the next five games before Christmas. Four of the games are against teams in the east division so they are extremely important for us. Then, I get a week off to spend some time with the family in St. Louis. My roommate from last year, Andre Sustr (U. Nebraska-Omaha) -- will be staying with us. The week off for Christmas is the only break we get during the season. I am excited to go home and see all my family and friends.
My next blog will be at the start of January. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Thank you for taking your time to read my blog.