All but one of the 17 members of the U.S. Youth Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team were selected to the USA Hockey Select 15 Player Development Camp in July 2015 but, other than seeing each other there, they had never played together until arriving in Lillehammer last week. It was a stark difference from the coaching Scott Paluch is used to.
“I think credit goes to how remarkably mature these kids are,” he said.
The team proved throughout the tournament that each member was as valuable as the next, with tandem goaltending, nine athletes scoring goals and several more contributing to them. As Paluch explained, much of that talent seen on the U.S. Youth Olympic Team is a byproduct of USA Hockey’s American Development Model.
“We’re finishing year seven in the American Development Model and there has been a major focus on the proper methods of development at young ages,” said Paluch. “We’ve got some tremendously skilled kids, and when people look at this group playing here, it puts a focus on what putting the right priorities in place can do for young kids. These guys were 7 or 8 years old when a lot of these principles started to come in.
“We’re gaining more and more acceptance into the principles of long-term athlete development and what the American Development Model is all about; we’re starting to see some really good results.”
The blueprint created through the ADM helped the 17 U.S. players reach their historic gold medal in Norway, and Paluch anticipates it will continue to lead them to future success at under-18 and under-20 world championships, and beyond.
“There are some outstanding players here,” Paluch said. “We want to continue to grow our overall player pool; we want to continue to grow participation. USA Hockey is in a really good place, and we want to continue to improve.”