TORONTO -- When goaltender Joseph Woll arrived for his second development camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 6, he could not help but think about how much experience he had gained in the past year.
The Maple Leafs drafted Woll, 19, in the third round (No. 62) of the 2016 NHL Draft after he spent two seasons with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, on its under-17 and under-18 teams. Since then, he completed a successful freshman season at Boston College and helped the United States to a gold medal at the 2017 World Junior Championship.
"Playing college hockey with all the older guys, I think I've gained a lot of maturity in my game," Woll said. "I think I've learned to manage it well playing with the older guys and get a good sense of what it takes at a little higher level. I was excited to show everyone here [with the Maple Leafs] what I've learned. I want to be able to go out each game and show Toronto that I want to play for them and want to be an NHL player."
Boston College began last season with two freshmen goaltenders, Woll and Ryan Edquist, leaving the onus on one of them to step into the starter's role. Woll ended up winning it and posting a record of 17-13-3 with a 2.64 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in 34 games. At the World Junior Championship, he went 2-0-0, including a 3-1 win against Canada in the preliminary round at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Nicknamed "The Brick Woll," he had a 1.50 GAA and a .935 save percentage at the tournament.
"In terms of representing my country it was amazing," Woll said, "and having that experience was probably one of the most memorable things in my life. In terms of development, being able to play with those kinds of players and see the pace and skill level that it takes at the higher level was something that really impacted my development and something that I took back to Boston College."
It's safe to say Woll has his focus set on earning the starter's role with the United States at the 2018 tournament.
"Of course, that's always something you want to achieve, he said. "Last year we had three great goalies and we all battled really hard for that starting job. I'm excited to have the opportunity to go back and work towards potentially leading the United States to another gold medal."
The pressure of playing at the World Junior Championship was a learning experience, but one Woll feels will serve him well if he intends to play for the Maple Leafs in one of the League's most pressure-packed marketplaces. He mentioned Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Frederik Andersen of the Maple Leafs as two goalies he tries to emulate in terms of their technically sound style and calm demeanor.
"Playing in Montreal and Toronto, those are two tough markets," Woll said, "but if you look at those guys and how their careers have morphed, specifically Carey, how he's handled his ups and downs is something you really have to look up to. He had the experience of playing in the World Juniors and playing in a big market, he's been able to really focus on his game and block out the outside noise.
"Watching people like Andersen and Price, they do a great job of balancing, that so that's something I can watch video on them and try to pick up parts of their game."