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.
So it was disappointing to lose my last game for Plymouth [against the Peterborough Petes] before flying to Minnesota to begin U.S. selection camp Sunday afternoon. Overall, the trip over wasn't too bad, it was a quick flight. The one-hour time change saved me an hour so I didn't lose too much during the day. I got to the rink right away and kind of sat around for a little bit; I felt good really all day and wasn't too tired. I had to wake up early since I forgot to pack [Saturday night] so maybe that's why my eyes are a little bloodshot.
I'll be rooming with forward [Tyler] Motte at the hotel. At the National Team Development Program, I knew him well and worked out and skated with him over the last part during my time with the program.
Once I got on the ice [at Mariucci Arena], I felt good. The legs felt good and everyone looked pretty fast out there so it was good.
I think Coach [Don] Lucia just wanted to get acquainted with everyone at this first practice; get the legs going. Everyone was traveling and the guys from Boston were getting in late so they came straight over from their flights. I think coach felt it was just important to get their legs going after a long weekend. We have two practices on Monday, so we'll be going hard.
My linemates at the first practice were [Nick] Kerdiles and [Dan] O'Regan. We were linemates on the Under-18 National Team Development Program [in 2011-12] so it was nice to be back with those two. There is some chemistry that is still there, even after one practice. So we all hope that will continue to develop.
This was the first time I really got the chance to talk to coach [Don] Lucia a little bit. I have heard nothing but great things about him and I know [Brady] Skjei and [Hudson] Fasching have nothing but good things to say about him [as players at the University of Minnesota] so I'm excited.
I think this year's group is a good one. We're a deep team. We don't have that superstar name like we did last year in [Alex] Galchenyuk, [Jacob] Trouba or [Seth] Jones this year, but we're a solid team. I believe we're going to be really good.
Follow Ryan Hartman on Twitter at: @Rhartzy18