Forward Ryan Hartman is in his second season with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. The native of West Dundee, Ill. helped lead the United States National Junior Team to a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. He was one of three returning players from that team invited to the U.S. National Junior Team selection camp this week in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that will help determine the roster for the 2014 WJC in Malmo, Sweden. Hartman, selected in the first round (No. 30) by the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2013 NHL Draft, had two goals, three points and a plus-4 rating in seven games as a checking-line forward at last season's tournament. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound wing has graciously offered to maintain a blog for NHL.com during the four-day camp at Mariucci Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
Hello fans of the World Junior Tournament!
This will be my first of four blog entries for NHL.com this week from U.S. selection camp in Minnesota. I won't be arriving in Minneapolis until Sunday afternoon since I have a game with the Plymouth Whalers against the Peterborough Petes [on Saturday] in Plymouth.
Health wise, I'm fine. I had to sit out [three weeks in November] while they immobilized my wrist just for precautionary reasons. The team really didn't want me playing with a nagging injury but now I'm 100 percent and there are no problems so I'm looking forward to camp.
Everyone in my family is really excited. It's Christmas and this is when our family gathers together to watch this tournament every year; it's tradition. Especially last year, they got up and watched the games from back home and had to get up pretty early [since the tournament was in Russia]. It'll be a little easier this year, as it's not that bad of a time change. But it's a fun time of year and I'm really honored to get a chance to wear the USA sweater again. I know my family is too.
It's going to be fun since I haven't seen some of the guys on the roster. So it'll be good to see them all again. I have no idea who my roommate might be in Minnesota but I'm since I know everyone there, it's not going to be a big deal whoever it might be.
Even though I'm a returning player, I'm not taking anything for granted. I'm heading into this camp playing the game coaches and players know I can play. In my type of game, I rarely take it easy and like the physical side. I'm not just going in [to camp] to mess around. I'm going to Minnesota to work hard and be a leader; help get our team ready for Sweden.
I'm sure the coaches will want to work on systems a little bit since some of the guys have never played together. It'll be nice to do some drills and start playing together just to see where guys like to be on the ice … get a feel for each other. I'm sure once the rosters are trimmed, we'll work on even more systems and specialty teams like the power play and penalty-kill.
I think the exhibition game on Tuesday [against Minnesota State University] is going to be great. When I played for the Under-18 National Team Development Program [in 2011-12], we actually played Minnesota State in Mankato; it'll be good to head back there. I know a few years ago when the world juniors was held in Fargo [North Dakota], the U.S. team played some college teams before the tournament; I saw some of those games. It'll be pretty cool to get an exhibition game in with a college program.
I've been talking a lot lately with [defenseman] Patrick Sieloff [who also won a gold medal for the U.S. at the 2013 WJC]. He's back home [in Michigan] dealing with an injury [that will keep him from playing]. He's doing really well and starting to work out again; he's coming along. Pat's obviously disappointed that he's not going to able to play this year. I hung out with him the other day and he told me to just take advantage of the opportunity, that it would be my last shot at the WJC and to make it a good one.
Thanks for reading. Check back Sunday night when I recap our first practice of camp.
Follow Ryan Hartman on Twitter at: @Rhartzy18