USA Hockey Magazine

February 2019

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FEBRUARY 2019 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 7 U.S. Takes Home Fifth WJAC Title In Seven Years k The string of success for the U.S. Junior Select Team seems to have no end as this year's squad captured its fifth title in the past seven years with a 2-0 victory over Russia in the championship game of the 2018 World Jr. A Challenge. Bobby Brink of the Sioux City Musketeers was named Tournament MVP after scoring the game-winning goal, his eighth point in the tournament that took place in Bonnyville, Alberta. The Excelsior, Minn., native has seen his draft stock steadily rise over the past few months from being among one of the United States Hockey League's leading scorers, entering potential first- round status for the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft. "He's a competitor," said Marc Boxer, general manager of the U.S. Junior Select Team. "Someone is going to take him early and be super excited that they did. He's just compete, compete, compete. Every shift he wants to win, he wants to score, that's what puts him over the top. He's skilled, he's talented and he can skate. He's not that big, but then again that doesn't matter as much in this day and age." Dating back to 2008, the U.S. has won eight titles in 11 years, never finishing off the podium in the 12 years it has participated in the event. The success has fos- tered a winning tradition and high expectations for a team comprised of USHL players. "We do reiterate it with the play- ers to carry on the tradition," Boxer said. "We've built upon the success that other guys have had. At the end of the event when you win it, it's almost a sense of relief because you feel like you have to just carry that tradition on." JUNIOR k IRISH EYES WERE SMILING as a group of local youth hockey players had the chance of a lifetime to skate on the outdoor ice at Notre Dame Stadium, the host site of the 2019 NHL Winter Classic. In the days after the Boston Bruins edged the Chicago Blackhawks on New Year's Day, players from the Irish Youth Hockey League took to the ice for scrimmages, league games and open skating sessions. It was all part of a partnership between the NHL, Notre Dame and the local youth hockey association to purchase some of the available time slots between the Winter Classic and the NCAA game between Big Ten rivals Notre Dame and the University of Michigan. Former Fighting Irish and NHL player Mike McNeill, who is heavily involved in the local youth hockey community, was instrumental in arranging the experience. "Who would've thought South Bend, Ind., would be the epi- center of the hockey world," said IYHL President Brian Troester. In addition to the ice time, the NHL provided the youth hockey community with 150 tickets to the Winter Classic, which were distributed in large part to the volunteer coaches as a way to thank them for their time and effort throughout the season. Travel teams at the 10 & Under, 12 & Under and 14 & Under levels played in scrimmages, and the Shamrock girls 12 & Under team faced off against local rivals, the Indy Fusion, in a league game. Not looking to leave anyone out, the association invited players from the learn to play and house leagues to hit the ice for open skating sessions. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Troester said. "We told the kids to make sure they went out there and had fun, and when you come off the ice you better have a big smile on your face. And they did." YOUTH WINTER CLASSIC ICE A POT OF GOLD FOR IRISH YOUTH HOCKEY

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