After back-to-back games, the U.S. enjoyed its off day with an early brunch that was followed by a quick skate at HarborCenter. The day included a visit from former U.S. National Junior Team player and recent Buffalo Sabres captain, Brian Gionta.
GIONTA VISITS TEAM USA
Before its practice at HarborCenter, the U.S. National Junior Team received a locker room visit from Brian Gionta (Rochester, N.Y.), who recently captained the 2017 U.S. Men’s Select Team at the Deutschland Cup and is an Olympic hopeful for this year’s U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team.
Gionta has represented Team USA at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, the IIHF Men’s World Championship (2000, 2001, 2005), the IIHF World Junior Championship (1998, 1999) and also played with Team USA at the 2004 Deutschland Cup.
After a 15-year career in the NHL, including stops in New Jersey (2001-2009), Montreal (2009-2014) and Buffalo (2014-2017), Gionta stepped away from the NHL after last season. His career has included a Stanley Cup title in New Jersey in 2003 and seven seasons as an NHL captain, including four in Montreal and three with Buffalo.
“You gotta come together as a group as quickly as you can but embrace the opportunity,” said Gionta. “These guys have a great opportunity to win gold, they have to seize that. Back-to-back gold for the U.S. at the World Juniors would be an unbelievable thing for USA Hockey and for the nation. For us alums that have been part of this World Juniors, for them to go back to back would be pretty special.”
BRADY TAKES AFTER MATTHEW
For those wondering if Brady Tkachuk’s shootout goal last night looked familiar, the answer is yes. His brother, Matthew, pulled off the move on a game-winning shootout attempt for the NHL’s Calgary Flames in a 5-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
In addition to the record 44,592 fans in attendance, a number of notable fans were watching the game from afar. During the first intermission of last night's eventual 4-3 overtime win for the Buffalo Sabres, Jack Eichel, captain of the 2015 U.S. National Junior Team, congratulated the U.S. through a tweet sent out by the Buffalo Sabres. Columbus Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella, who has coached a number of U.S. men's national teams, closed his press conference by mentioning the 3-on-3 overtime. USA Hockey also received congratulatory messages from others, among them the PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, who grew up playing hockey with USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher and played hockey at Trinity College where he was an Academic All-American his senior season.
TAKE FIVE: FREDERIC, POEHLING, HARPER
Today's 'take five' get to knows center on three collegiate forwards in Trent Frederic (St. Louis, Mo.), Ryan Poehling (Lakeville, Minn.) and Patrick Harper (New Canaan, Conn.).
ONE YOUTH HOCKEY COACH YOU'D LIKE TO THANK:
Frederic: Jeff Brown, St. Louis AAA Blues
Harper: John Gardner, Avon Old Farms
Poehling: Trent Eigner, Lakeville North Community
COLLEGE ATTENDING AND MAJOR:
Frederic: University of Wisconsin, Undeclared
Harper: Boston University, Communications
Poehling: St. Cloud State University, Computer Science
THREE THINGS YOU LOVE ABOUT HOCKEY:
Frederic: Friends I meet, the competition and the travel
Harper: The creativity, the sped and hockey sense needed to be successful
Poehling: Winning, the competitiveness and the people you meet
FAVORITE MOVIE OR TV SHOW:
Poehling: Prison Break
BEST ADVICE YOU'VE BEEN GIVEN:
Frederic: Being nice is free
Harper: Bring your best, everyday
Poehling: You can do anything you set your mind to