It was a jam-packed offseason for Union sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
From getting picked in the NHL draft, to trying out for the United States World Junior team to getting prepared for the college hockey season, it seemed like Gostisbehere had no time off over the summer.
But Gostisbehere is ready for his second season with the Dutchmen. The excitement of the summer is well behind him.
The ECAC Hockey-champion Dutchmen open their 22nd NCAA Division I season Saturday at 7 p.m., when they host Merrimack of Hockey East at Messa Rink.
“It’s been a big whirlwind,” Gostisbehere said at Union hockey media day Monday at Messa Rink. “It was a great summer with everything going on with me, with the USA [team] and the draft. It’s awesome, but it’s time for Union College hockey now, and forget about [the summer]. That’s in the past. It happened, and it was great, but it’s time to get going Saturday.”
Gostisbehere attracted a lot of attention during his stellar first season. He had five goals and 17 assists in 41 games, and tied for second on the team with a defensive rating of plus-18.
As the season went along, Gostisbehere’s game improved. He was named to the ECACH All-Rookie team. He had the assist on Daniel Carr’s game-winning goal in the 3-1 victory over Harvard that gave the Dutchmen their first ECACH tournament championship.
June was a big month for Gostisbehere. First, he was invited to the US Hockey development camp, which helps determine the team that will compete in the World Junior Championships over the Christmas holiday in Russia. Then, he was selected in the third round of the NHL draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. Gostisbehere participated in the Flyers’ prospect camp in July.
In August, Gostisbehere went to Lake Placid for the U.S. camp, and impressed Team USA coach Phil Housley. Gostisbehere had two goals and two assists in the four games he played, which included two intrasquad games. Gostisbehere will find out in December if he made the team.
“Most of our players have done a great job improving in the areas that we wanted to work on,” Housley said after the camp concluded. “Gostisbehere, definitely, every day has gotten better. His skating ability to get out of trouble, his knack to make the first pass in traffic and get involved in the rush have been excellent. His decision process when to join and when not to join has been really solid.”
Playing with elite players will go a long way in improving Gostisbehere’s game.
“I think he’s coming in with a world of confidence, probably a lot more than he did coming in his freshman year,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “He went back and did the things he needed to do. He went back to Paul Vincent’s Power Skating and Skills again, who’s one of the best in the country, along with a lot of pros, so he’s around that environment. That helps a guy’s confidence coming in, especially with your sophomore season. I really think that helped him for the tryouts.
“Coming in, he has to learn to play his game and keep it simple when he needs to, and when he needs to put on his Bobby Orr act, at times.”
Gostisbehere did take some time off to relax, so he isn’t concerned about overwork.
“I took one week off and went home to Florida,” Gostisbehere said. “That was about it, and then got back to it and came here. I don’t burn out. I’ll be fine.”
Junior defenseman Mat Bodie was named team captain. The alternates are Mat’s brother Kyle, a senior center, and senior defenseman Greg Coburn. . . .
The “Union College Hockey Coach’s Corner” bi-weekly radio show has a new home. The 30-minute show will air live from The Van Dyck in Schenectady every other Tuesday starting Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. Bombers Burrito Bar had been the home the last two seasons. The show is heard on WPTR-AM (1240) and WABY-AM (1160). WPTR is the former WVKZ.