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Warsofsky finding stride for U.S. at worlds

by Julie Robenhymer / New Jersey Devils

It's been six years since David Warsofsky last wore the red, white and blue for USA Hockey when he won a gold medal at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship. When he was asked to don the jersey once again at the 2016 IIHF World Championship in Russia, it was an offer he couldn't refuse.

"I had my end of the year meeting with [head coach John] Hynes and [Devils general manager Ray] Shero and they asked if I'd be interested and, obviously, I said yes. I don't think many guys would say no unless they had a really good reason to," explained Warsofsky, who was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline. "After World Juniors, I didn't know if that would be my last chance, so I'm excited to have this opportunity again and represent my country."

In addition to that gold medal he won in Saskatoon, he also won a bronze medal at the 2008 IIHF U18 World Championship in Kazan, Russia. He served as Team USA's captain then, as he had all season at the US National Team Development Program, where Hynes was head coach at the time.

"That experience definitely helps," said Hynes. "He's been over here and he knows how these tournaments work. He's also a bit of a seasoned pro in the American League and the NHL and he's been consistent. I think he's a good skating defenseman and he's moved the puck well and he's done a pretty good job on the power play and that's what we felt like we needed from him."

There's a premium on speed and puck-moving defenseman in the NHL, but even more so on the wider ice surface in this tournament and that's a significant part of Warsofsky's game.

"Transition is so important in the NHL and you have to be able to move the puck and get up in the play and I think I bring some of that, but at the same time I take pride in being able to take care of my own end defensively," explained the 5-9, 170-lb. blueliner. "I know my first couple years, that was a big question mark for me – if I could actually play defense – but I think I've responded to that criticism well and made that a stronger part of my game."

While the soon-to-be-26-year-old had a taste of the NHL the past three seasons, Warsofsky has spent the better part of the past five years in the AHL working on his game and trying to show that he has more to give and it's that work ethic that made him a valuable player to include on this team.

"He's a motivated player here because he's trying to figure out the next step in his career and if that includes a full-time spot in the NHL and part of getting that job is being consistent and I think he's done a good job of that in this tournament," said Hynes.

"I don't really know what's going to happen next year so this is a really good opportunity for me to play well, show what I can do and how I can contribute and hopefully make an impact," Warsofsky said. "I was lucky enough to make the team and I'm trying to make the most of it."

The U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals and will face top-seeded Czech Republic on Thursday at 9:15am ET on NBCSN.

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