The 2011-12 season is going well thus far.
If nothing else, it has been a lot of fun. We recently went through a little adversity at the 2012 Five Nations Tournament in Finland. We lost back-to-back games to Sweden and Finland but responded well with a 3-0 win over Russia to take third place. It's a wake up call for this team, but I was very proud to see how we regrouped against a strong Russian team.
We have to take what we learned there and apply it throughout the rest of the year as we head toward our main goal of winning gold at the 2012 World Under-18 Championship in the Czech Republic. All-in-all, the Five Nations Tournament was awesome. Spending a week in Finland was a pretty cool experience. All the teams that competed (Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden) were good and we are looking forward to seeing them again at the U18 World Championship.
Personally, my season is progressing along nicely. It has been great getting back with the boys at the National Team Development Program after spending time at the 2012 World Junior Championship in Canada. While my teammate and friend, Seth Jones, and I were gone, the U.S. National Under-18 Team played a stretch of Division-I games that included ties with Boston University and the University of Wisconsin and a win over Northeastern University. Those results were great to see while I was gone.
The penalty-kill has always been a strong point on this team. Coach Danton Cole has taught us the right way to play and defend and its something we take pride in. I love being out there killing penalties. It is a challenge and a good penalty kill can really change the momentum of a game. The most important thing to remember are stops and starts in straight lines, having an active stick and when you have a chance to jump on a guy and take away time and space, do it. We are always learning here at the NTDP and it's great to have the guidance of our coaching staff.
After coming back from the WJC, I felt more confident as a player. The level of competition throughout my time with the U20 Team was high and I played alongside a lot of great players. When we started, I had to adjust my game a bit as play moved faster. At that level, you have to make quicker reads and execute plays at a fast pace. The most important lesson I learned at WJC was not to take any opportunity for granted. When I saw I was invited to camp, I knew I was going to battle for a position on the blueline. Once I showed that I belonged, I wanted to prove to everyone that I deserved a roster spot.
I've never looked too far into draft rankings. I didn't at the start of the season and I'm not checking now. It's great to be recognized for my work on the ice, but to me, I'm more focused on getting better and making my team better. We have a very short time to prepare for the U18 World Championship, and I do my best to keep everyone focused on what matters now ... winning a gold medal for our country. That being said, I'd be honored to have my name called on draft day and look forward to sharing that experience with my family and teammates.
USA Hockey's Hockey Weekend Across America just concluded and I'm a big fan of the event. I think HWAA was great for the sport of hockey and everyone involved with it. We were fortunate enough to be profiled by NBC and I was interviewed for a segment that aired on Hockey Day in America. It was an honor to be featured and people got a chance to see what the NTDP is like behind-the-scenes.
Thanks for reading this month.
Follow Jacob Trouba on Twitter at: @jacobtrouba