|James van Riemsdyk sits down with Comcast SportsNet's Steve Coates to reflect on his first season in college. (Flyers Photos) |
(Voorhees, NJ) – This time last year, James van Riemsdyk
was preparing for one of the biggest days of his young life.
On June 22, 2007, the Philadelphia Flyers made the big 18-year-old forward the second overall choice in the NHL Entry Draft in Columbus, Ohio. van Riemsdyk, now 19, recently completed his freshman year at the University of New Hampshire, and by most accounts, it was a successful one.
The Middleton, New Jersey native is now making the daily 90-minute trek from his parents’ house to the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone
to skate and work out. He sat down with Comcast SportsNet’s Steve Coates for an interview that will air on Tuesday, June 17 on the 10:00 p.m. show, and talked about his first season since becoming a top NHL prospect.To watch the complete interview, click here!
“I’d say it was a good year. There’s always room for improvement obviously, and being a true freshman, it’s not something you see a lot in college hockey. I took a lot of pride in being one of the few that is a true freshman,” he said.
“The University of New Hampshire not only made me a better hockey player, but it’s helped me mature as a person and just grow up a little bit. Being on your own in college, you’ve got to have more responsibility and I think I handled it very well.”
The 6’4’’ van Riemsdyk, who now weighs in at 210 pounds, registered 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 31 games for the Wildcats, leading them to the NCAA tournament. New Hampshire, a top seed that was ranked fourth overall in the country at the time, was upset in the first round by Notre Dame, 7-3 (van Riemsdyk assisted on all three goals in the losing effort).
He also took part in the annual under-18 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic, leading the entire tournament in scoring with five goals and six assists for 11 points, although the United States failed to medal.
I want to make sure that when I do make that jump [to turn pro], I’m ready to be a part of it and land with my feet flat on the ground. - James van Riemsdyk
“Any time you can represent your country it’s always a thrill,” he said. “We unfortunately came up a little bit short which is disappointing, but hopefully next year we’ll be able to give it another crack. It’s in Ottawa, so that will be a lot of fun.”
The Flyers offered van Riemsdyk the chance to join the organization for the 2008-09 season, if not as a member of the NHL club, than with the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms. van Riemsdyk decided that he would put off turning pro for now, though, opting to return to UNH for his sophomore year.
He explained that decision.
“I just want to make sure that when I do make the jump, that I’m fully ready to have an impact when I get here,” he said. “Obviously, [the Flyers] turned it around a lot this year and had a great year and have a lot of great young talent. I’m really excited, but I just want to make sure that when I do make that jump I’m ready to be a part of it and land with my feet flat on the ground.”
Seeing the Flyers advance all the way to the Eastern Conference Final was an encouraging sign to van Riemsdyk.
"Just watching them go so far was pretty exciting to me to see all the pieces there that are in place.”
van Riemsdyk is just another one of those pieces that will surely fit in at some point in the near future.