Today marked Day 1 of Team USA's journey towards the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship. Things kicked off in New York, where players and staff converged before flying to Denmark. Upon their arrival, players and staff checked into the hotel and then hit the ice at KVIK Hockey Arena for its first practice.
GEOFFRION ON-SITE WITH TEAM USA
Blake Geoffrion (Brentwood, Tenn.), who helped the U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team to a gold medal in 2006 and the U.S. National Junior Team to a bronze medal in 2007, is here in Herning, Denmark. A product of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program and former teammate of current U.S. captain Patrick Kane (Buffalo, N.Y.) on both medal-winning U.S. national teams, Geoffrion played five seasons of professional hockey with the NHL's Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators as well as their AHL affiliates the Milwaukee Admirals (NSH) and Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL). He was the first fourth-generation player in the league's history, after his father Dan, grandfather Bernie and great-grandfather Howie Morenz. Currently, Geoffrion is an assistant general manager for general manager Bill Zito and the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters.
KVIK HOCKEY ARENA
The KVIK Hockey Arena is a two-sheet facility that serves as home to the Herning Blue Fox hockey organization. The club plays in the Metal Ligaen, the premier hockey league in Denmark, where it has won 16 league titles. Led by head coach and Minneapolis, Minn., native Todd Bjorkstrand, the Blue Fox claimed six titles during his tenure from 2004-2014 and again in 2016-17. A University of Maine player from 1980-84, Bjorkstrand finished his playing career as the Danish league’s all-time leading goal scorer and all-time assist leader, had his number 22 retired by the Blue Fox. His son, Oliver Bjorkstrand, is current teammates with Cam Atkinson (Riverside, Conn.) and Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) for the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.
ROSTER SPOTLIGHT: EAGLES PRIDE
Among the 18 players on Team USA to have skated collegiately, five did so as member of Boston College. Brian Gibbons (Braintree, Mass.) joined the Eagles in 2007-08, where he helped them win an NCAA national championship that season. After Cam Atkinson (Riverside, Conn.) became an Eagle the following season, Chris Kreider (Boxford, Mass.) joined the duo in 2009-10, where the Eagles again claimed an NCAA title. Johnny Gaudreau (Salem, N.J.) then joined Boston College in 2011-12, its first season without Gibbons or Atkinson, where he and Kreider led to the Eagles to its third NCAA title in five seasons. In 2015-16, Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) skated for the Eagles where he was tabbed Hockey East Rookie of the Year.