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Primeau: 'It's been a lifelong dream to play at the highest level'

Cayden Primeau is prepared to depart for Europe to join Team USA for the IIHF World Hockey Championship

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL - An overseas flight awaits Cayden Primeau on Saturday.

The 19-year-old goaltender will be travelling to Germany to join his American teammates for pre-tournament work ahead of the 2019 IIHF World Hockey Championship, which runs from May 10-26 in Kosice and Bratislava, Slovakia

Primeau is one of three goaltenders on the roster for the annual tournament. He joins Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils and Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks.

As expected, the Voorhees, NJ native's excitement level for his impending journey is off the charts. 

"When I got the call, there were no words. It's been a lifelong dream to play at the highest level, and this is something that's going to keep progressing. Anytime you get to represent your country, it's huge," said Primeau, who was among the first group of players named to head coach Jeff Blashill's contingent on April 18. "It's going to be great being with Schneider and Demko, just seeing how they handle themselves on and off the ice and what makes them so successful." 

Tweet from @usahockey: Forward Jack Hughes and defensemen Adam Fox & Christian Wolanin have been added to the 2019 U.S. Men���s National Team roster. #MensWorlds. 🇺Roster details ���

This will mark a special opportunity for Primeau to train alongside a goaltender with NHL experience aplenty. Schneider boasts 396 NHL games under his belt. For his part, Demko has been plying his trade in the pro ranks for the last three years.

"Not too many pro goalies are from New Jersey or in the area. I haven't really skated with any. This will be a first for me," mentioned Primeau, who plans on being a sponge in the weeks to come. "I'm just going into it with an open mind and trying to take in anything I can while I'm there."

While it remains to be seen what role the reigning Mike Richter Award winner will play between the pipes for Blashill's squad, he's ready for anything that comes his way as the competition begins.

"If that's for me to practice, then I'll practice. If I get in a game, I'm going to do my best there. I'm just going to go into it and try to get better every day," explained Primeau. "And if my name gets called on, I'll play to the best of my ability."

The last time Primeau sported the stars and stripes was earlier this year at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, where his brilliant effort helped the Americans claim a silver medal.

His numbers in British Columbia speak for themselves, with Primeau posting a 4-1-0 record, along with a sparkling 1.61 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.

In short, the Northeastern University product loves the international game. 

"The guys are older, but the stakes are the same. You're playing for your country," said Primeau. "It's the same kind of deal, but the play will be different. The competition is the biggest difference, but I'm just going to take things as they come."

Primeau's father, Keith, who played in two World Championships for Canada and won gold in 1997, provided his son with some sound advice ahead of his trek.

"He said 'You don't know if this opportunity is going to come along again, so just try and experience it to its fullest,'" shared Primeau. "I don't think there's really anything like guys battling for their country."

Once his tenure with Team USA is in the rearview mirror, though, Primeau will get down to the business of preparing for his first pro season after signing a three-year entry-level contract with the Canadiens on March 31.

Naturally, he couldn't think of a better way to begin his summer than by joining his countrymen in Europe.

"I'm super excited for the summer ahead. This is kind of the kick-starter into that," said Primeau. "I had a great two years at Northeastern. It was a lot of fun and we accomplished so much, but I'm excited for the next step and just getting ready for that next level."

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