I won a gold medal playing for the U.S. Select Team in Penticton, B.C. It was a great experience and a lot of fun. We really had a great team and playing in that atmosphere (at South Okanagan Event Center) was outstanding. I didn't know how big it would be or how big this tournament was, but once I got there, I figured it out quickly. To be able to beat Canada (East) in Canada for the gold medal was pretty awesome.
The crowds were definitely into the games. Once we got to the final game, I'm pretty sure it was sold out. They didn't want a U.S. team coming in and winning on their home ice so everything was kind of against us as far as fans go. It was definitely a hostile environment, everyone was just rooting against you.
We tied the game, 4-4, with about five minutes left. When we were down, 4-1, we all said it was do or die. We got a couple goals right before the end of the second period and felt like the pressure was now on them. It took us a while, but we eventually got the tying goal and then, two minutes later, took the lead and had all the momentum.
It was kind of strange to fall behind the way we did since we were having so much success throughout the tournament, but we expected them to come out with nothing to lose playing in front of a big home crowd. It's the gold medal game, you're excited and the underdog. At least that's how we felt. But we knew what to expect and they just came out and seemed to want it a little more than we did and even though it took a while, we changed and got back to our game and got back to realizing it wasn't going to be easy. From there everything just kind of went our way.
Personally, I thought I played well in the tournament. I felt I did what I had to do to help our team be successful. Obviously, you can't always have good games, but I felt the games I played, I was solid and made an impact. I know it took the whole team effort to be able to come away with gold. We had a lot of skilled players, but everyone knew their role on the team and it all just clicked.
I'm now preparing to continue my USHL schedule with Omaha. I definitely feel better every day and it seems weird that we're already at Thanksgiving and I've only played eight USHL games. I should have done 20 by now. But it's great being back with the guys and everyone is learning. We're starting to click heading into the second half of the season.
I did see the (Central Scouting) ratings on Tuesday and I feel lucky enough to be there (at No. 3 among USHL players) and I just hope to stay around. There are a lot of great players in the league and I want to do everything I can to stay around there or move up if I could. That's a great honor being thought of as an elite player but I definitely can always keep improving. I just hope that it turns out well.
We actually have a game to play on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25, home vs. Sioux Fall Stampede). We'll probably have a team dinner before or after just like we did last year. We'll obviously be eating Thanksgiving food and having a good time. My family will probably arrive a day or two before Thanksgiving Day so it'll be nice to see them too.
Well, until next time, Happy Thanksgiving everyone.