Twenty-eight players arrived today in Columbus, Ohio, ahead of its first training camp.
TEAM USA TAKES IN CBJ-NYI THRILLER
Upon arriving into Columbus, Team USA players and staff walked to Nationwide Arena to take in the Metropolitan Division tilt between the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders.
Zach Werenski (Grosse Pointe, Mich.), who captained the 2016 U.S. National Junior Team to a bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, opened the scoring for the Blue Jackets in an eventual 6-4 home victory. Werenski, who also skated on the 2015 U.S. National Junior Team, was just one of several players in the game to have previously represented the U.S. National Junior Team.
BLUE JACKETS, ISLANDERS PICK AMONG U.S. HOPEFULS
Defenseman Andrew Peeke (Parkland, Fla.) and forward Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn.) had extra reason to enjoy tonight's NHL tilt. Peeke, who is in sophomore campaign with the University of Notre Dame (Big Ten), was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round, 34th overall, of the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo. That same year, Bellows was the first selection for the New York Islanders when he was chosen in the first round, 19th overall.
"It's exciting being here to see a home game," said Peeke. "I was here for our Development Camp before, but to be here and see the fans and atmosphere on a game day, it's cool and something you hope happens down the road."
"It's just a great way to kick off this camp," said Bellows. "Guys were able to enjoy themselves and get to catch up or know each other a little bit in the suite or walking around. We're excited to get started tomorrow."
PAST AND PRESENT WITH USNJT ALUMNI
Joining Werenski from the Blue Jackets as former U.S. National Junior Team members in tonight's game included defenseman Seth Jones (Plano, Texas) and forwards Tyler Motte (Port Huron, Mich.) and Jordan Schroeder (Lakeville, Minn.). Jones was a member of the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team that won gold in Ufa, Russia. Motte represented the U.S. twice at the World Junior Championship (2014, 2015) while Schroeder did so three times (2008, 2009, 2010). Schroeder’s U.S. National Junior Team was capped with a gold medal (2010) and U.S. career records for most assists (20) and points (27) in world junior championship play.
Former U.S. National Junior Team players from the New York Islanders included 2011 U.S. teammates in forward Brock Nelson (Minneapolis, Minn.) and defenseman Nick Leddy (Eden Prairie, Minn.). Like this year’s team, Nelson and Leddy skated for Team USA on home ice in Buffalo, ultimately winning a bronze medal.
The former U.S. National Junior Team players also have ties to this year’s potential U.S. players, as Schroeder shares the same hometown as forward Ryan Poehling (St. Cloud State Univ.) and goaltender Jake Oettinger (Boston Univ.). Meanwhile, Leddy and U.S. forward Casey Mittelstadt (Univ. of Minnesota) both hail from Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Other players in tonight’s game to previously represent the U.S. in international play include Columbus Blue Jackets captain and Buffalo native Nick Foligno and New York Islanders forward, Anders Lee (Edina, Minn.). Foligno skated one fulll season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (2003-04) and represented Team USA in three IIHF Men’s World Championships (2009, 2010, 2016) while Lee has played for Team USA in two IIHF Men’s World Championships (2015, 2017), helping the U.S. earn a bronze medal in 2015.
Blue Jackets prospect Andrew Peeke during pre-game telecast