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World Cup

James van Riemsdyk puts tough season behind him

'Big stage' of World Cup, playing in front of Maple Leafs fans stand out for Team USA forward

by Chris Loma /

For an athlete who knows a thing or two about hitting the target, it's somewhat surprising to hear Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk discuss the Olympic event he thinks he would struggle in the most.

The 27-year-old has scored more than 20 goals in three of four NHL seasons when he played 75 or more games, including a career-high 30 in 2013-14, so he would appear to be a natural at pinpoint accuracy under stressful conditions.

But that's not the case.

"To be honest, I'd be the worst at any type of shooting event," van Riemsdyk said. "I don't think it [would] work out that well at all."

There is no question, however, what van Riemsdyk's best Olympic event is. Playing for the United States in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, he led all players with six assists and a plus-7 rating.

Although the Middletown, N.J., native had a great time watching U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaica runner Usain Bolt dominate the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, he's looking forward to playing for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, which runs from Sept. 17-Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Video: SJS@TOR: van Riemsdyk scores late in the 2nd period

"There are two things that really stand out for me when it comes to the World Cup," he said. "I get the chance to represent my country on the big stage and I also get to play in front of Leafs fans."

Last season, Maple Leafs fans saw van Riemsdyk for half a season. He was limited to 40 games after sustaining a non-displaced fracture in his left foot in January. He had 14 goals and was leading the Maple Leafs with 29 points prior to being injured.

The World Cup will be the sixth international appearance for van Riemsdyk. In addition to the Sochi Olympics, he played in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship and the 2011 World Championship, where he was named one of the top three players for the U.S.

On Sept. 17, van Riemsdyk and Team USA will begin pool play against Team Europe (3:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2).

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