Hi everyone, back again with my second update.
October had a lot of up and downs. My team, the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL, is currently 4-5-1. We had a great start but are experiencing a little slump right now.
We spent three of our first four weeks on the road. Youngstown, being the furthest east team in the league, makes traveling a hassle. In October, we have traveled over 7,000 miles by bus. Our longest trip was to Fargo, North Dakota on October 21. All this traveling can be rough but roadies with the boys are one of my favorite things about hockey in the USHL.
We played in three home openers and won all three. We beat Des Moines and Lincoln in front of sold out and extremely loud crowds. Lincoln was nuts at the start of the game but quieted down in the first 30 seconds when Ty Loney scored. Lincoln battled till the end though, and we won by only one goal, so the crowd was really into it. In our home opener, we beat the defending USHL champs, the Green Bay Gamblers. We had a big crowd, too, and really appreciated the support. It was great to see a lot of people show up to our game because we usually don't get the same attendance as many other teams.
I am really happy with the coaching and the type of team we have this year. Coach (Curtis) Carr is really helping us be the best we can be. We have had a small losing streak towards the end of October but I know we will be fine and come back. I have been paired with Jordan Young and Chris Bradley, two strong defensemen who are doing great in their first year in the USHL. Some other players that have had a great first month are Jiri Sekac, Adam Berkle, Quinn Smith, Cody Strang, Ryan Belonger and our goalie, Matt O'Connor. O'Connor has been outstanding and was named the USHL goaltender of the week for the first week of the season.
Outside hockey, life is pretty much the same. My billet parents, Gayle and Jim Ridge, are amazing. This is my second year with them and they have really made the transition into living away from my family as easy as possible. I live with Stu Higgins who has also been a big player up front for us. He is committed to Maine for 2011. Stu and I always argue about which division is better -- Hockey East or WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association). I hope some day we'll get to play against each other in college so I can prove I'm right.
Towards the end of October, I was chosen for the USA World Junior A Challenge Team. It's a huge honor to wear the USA jersey and I'm grateful to have been selected. The roster is made up of USHL players, including two other St. Louis guys, Michael Parks (drafted in 2010 by Philadelphia) and Sam Warning (eligible this year). Both of them play for Cedar Rapids. I'm excited to meet and get to know some of the guys I play against all season. I leave Nov. 4 for Penticton, British Columbia. I'll write about the world tournament in my next blog at the start of December.
For now, I would like everyone to keep Jesse Martin, a Denver hockey player, in their thoughts and prayers. Jesse was hit in a game Saturday night against North Dakota and sustained three neck fractures to C-2 vertebrae.
Thanks for taking your time to read this!