Special to AnaheimDucks.comJohn Gibson
shared the last two years of his hockey playing career with the United States National Team Development Program, so it was fitting that he and many of his teammates spent Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn.
|“It was a goal of mine to just be the best goalie in the draft for my age, and with that happening it’s quite an honor,” Gibson said. “I’m just really happy that I got into a good organization with the Ducks.” |
“It’s cool to see some of the kids from our team go and we’ll probably have quite a few more go today,” Gibson said after being selected in the NHL Entry Draft’s second round (39th overall) by the Ducks on Saturday. “It’s a really cool experience and I’m happy to share it with them.”
The Pittsburgh native joined the U.S. Development Program two years ago, where he was immediately thrown into the fire. The U-17 team plays in the USHL, which can feature much more physically-mature 20-year-old players.
“It was kind of rough to start but obviously with that you really get a lot stronger and you get more experience and I think you mature,” Gibson said.
As a member of this past year’s U-18 team, the competition didn’t get any easier. The U-18 schedule is composed of games against USHL, Division-I college and international teams.
“It really got my feet wet and gave me a good taste for this upcoming season so I feel like I’ll be a step ahead against everyone else,” said Gibson, who will play for the University of Michigan this fall.
Needless to say, the nearly 6-3, 206-pound netminder figured things out. Gibson helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the Under-18 World Championships in Germany after beating Canada in the semifinals and Sweden in the finals, both in thrilling overtime fashion. With a 2.34 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, he was named the tournament’s Best Goaltender.
When the final Central Scouting rankings were released, Gibson was recognized as the top North American goaltender in this year's draft class.
|“They’re a good organization with good young talent," said Gibson of the Ducks. "I’m looking forward to going out there and seeing what happens." |
“It was a goal of mine to just be the best goalie in the draft for my age, and with that happening it’s quite an honor,” Gibson said. “I’m just really happy that I got into a good organization with the Ducks.”
Gibson, 17, got into hockey by watching the Pittsburgh Penguins when he was younger. No one in his family played hockey, but his parents were big Penguins fans as well.
“I just went to the games and from there it just kind of got me involved,” said Gibson, who idolized Mario Lemieux as a youngster and today looks up to goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price.
This East Coast product has never been to Southern California, but he’s looking forward to it.
“They’re a good organization with good young talent. I’m looking forward to going out there and seeing what happens,” said Gibson, who likes fishing and hanging out at the beach.
Gibson gives a lot of credit to his teammates and USA Hockey for his development. No matter what happens in this young athlete’s career, if USA Hockey ever calls, he’ll answer.
“Whenever I get a chance to play for a USA Hockey team, I’ll definitely never turn it down and always go right at it,” Gibson said. “I’m sure that’s the same for anyone on the team. I’m sure we’ll keep in touch over the years because we have a bond that really has been pretty solid over the past two years.”