It was U.S. National Junior Team head coach Scott Sandelin on the line informing him that he was among the 44 players named to the country's roster for the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase, which gets underway on Friday in Plymouth, MI.
After a monster season with the National Team Development Program, the 18-year-old right-winger anticipated an invite might be on the horizon. But, that certainly didn't make the call any less significant when it finally came.
"It was nice to hear that and get that relief," said Caufield, who was selected 15th overall by the Canadiens in June. "Obviously, I had it in mind that I was hopefully going to be there, but just to hear his voice and hear him say that to you is something special."
An incoming freshman at the University of Wisconsin, Caufield has spent the last five weeks on campus in Madison, WI training for the event, which also features the top Under-20 players from Canada, Finland and Sweden.
And he's primed to finally strut his stuff for the Team USA brass and impress.
"It's the first impression on making the team, so you want to go in there with a lot of drive and a lot of work ethic. You've got to take it seriously. It's also your first time getting used to the coaching staff. You're also playing against other countries, so you can get pumped up for that, too," explained Caufield. "I'll just be trying to make an impact every time I'm on the ice and find myself on the good side of the puck and see what I can do. I'm pretty confident in my preparation."
Photo Credit: Rena Laverty / USA Hockey
Playing on familiar ice certainly won't hurt Caufield's cause. For the last two seasons, USA Hockey Arena has been his home rink, so he should feel at ease in his surroundings.
"It kind of calms you down a bit and makes you more comfortable," mentioned Caufield, who has a real soft spot for the facility. "Just seeing that Team USA logo everywhere you go, it's something a lot of kids don't get to experience. Having that logo on your chest and in the locker room all the time, it really makes a difference. After playing there, it has a special place in my heart, along with all the staff and coaches."
The 5-foot-7 sniper is no stranger to sporting the coveted red, white and blue internationally, of course.
He most recently dominated the competition at the Under-18 World Championship in April with a tournament-leading 14 goals in just seven games. That earned him Top Forward and Tournament MVP honors as well.
Needless to say, Caufield would relish the opportunity to compete at the next level come December in the Czech Republic.
"It would mean everything, representing your country on the biggest stage as an 18-year-old. If there's any chance I can make the team, that's where I want to be and that's what I want to do. It would be a dream come true," insisted Caufield. "When you put that jersey on for international games, it means a little bit something more. I'd love to be a part of another team like that and try to do what I can for them. It starts this week, and I'm really looking forward to putting the jersey back on."
Video: Cole Caufield's first day as a Hab
Admittedly, Caufield has been a fan of the World Junior Hockey Championship for as long as he can remember. It's always been atop his family's must-see TV list.
"Christmas time was World Junior time for us in the house. It's fun hockey to watch, so now that you're getting closer to that dream. It's something I'm working for," said Caufield, whose favorite World Junior memory dates back to 2010 when Team USA downed Team Canada in dramatic fashion to claim a gold medal. "The John Carlson OT winner, that just stuck with me my whole life. To see his reaction and what that tournament really means to everyone was amazing. It's something I hope I can do one day."
Caufield has wholeheartedly enjoyed his brief time in Wisconsin's state capital.
Between off-ice workouts, practicing with the Badgers and school, he's been rather busy of late.
But, he wouldn't trade the unique experience for anything.
"Being from Wisconsin, it means even more to wear the Badgers jersey," said Caufield. "Going to games on Friday nights and seeing them play, it just makes putting on that practice jersey as of right now really cool. I can't wait to get started."
Photo Credit: University of Wisconsin Athletics
Come the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign, Caufield will proudly wear No. 8 in honor of a famous alum.
"I was No. 8 in high school. Joe Pavelski is from the same town as us and he wore No. 8 at our high school, too. I thought it would be pretty cool and pretty special if I wear the same number he did, and in a way hopefully somewhat live up to what he did at this school," explained Caufield. "He's a really special player and someone I keep in touch with."
Caufield, who resides with fellow National Team Development Program product, Owen Lindmark, is also lucky to have his older brother, Brock, nearby.
Brock is heading into his sophomore season with the Badgers, so Cole can most definitely count on him for guidance and advice.
"Brock lives in a pretty nice apartment and he has a pool, so I'm with him a lot. But, we hang out a lot more as a team. It's really nice just to be able to hang with the guys," said Caufield. "All the freshmen here, we've kind of broken into it at the same pace and we're having a lot of fun together."
On the academic front, Caufield is currently taking an online class in sports journalism to kick off his curriculum. He remains undecided on a major, though.
"It's just kind of getting you into what it's going to be like during the year. The sports aspect of the class really interests me. The broadcasting part is really cool, too," said Caufield. "While I'm here, I'm just going to be focused on hockey and school and not really having any distractions."