Growing up in Margate, Fla., Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere dreamed about playing for Team USA in the World Junior Hockey Championships.
The sophomore Gostisbehere is one stride closer to that dream.
Gostisbehere, 19, is on Team USA’s 27-player roster for the World Junior Championships, which will take place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia.
Team USA will have a pair of training camps. The first will be Dec. 16-18 at the New York Rangers’ Madison Square Garden Training Center in Tarrytown. The second will be Dec. 19-23 in Helsinki, Finland, which will include exhibition games against Sweden and Finland. The final 23-player roster will be announced Dec. 23.
“Ever since I was little, watching Team USA play, and sitting in my dorm in South Kent [School in Connecticut] watching them when they won [the gold medal] in ’09, it’s like you want to be there. You want to be on that team,” Gostisbehere said.
“It’s like a dream-come-true sort of thing because, now, it’s happening.”
Gostisbehere has five goals and eight assists in 13 games. He is tied for second in the country in scoring among defensemen with an average of a point per game.
Last season, Gostisbehere had five goals and 17 assists in 41 games. He had a strong second half of the season, collecting seven goals and 19 assists in his final 25 games. He was named to the ECAC Hockey All-Rookie team. In June, Gostisbehere was a third-round selection of the Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL draft.
“I’m happy for him and his family,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “I know how much hard work it took growing up, especially coming from Florida. It’s been something he’s dreamt about, so it’s great to see that his reality has come true. I realize that it’s still tryouts, but it’s the next stage. That’s a compliment to him.”
Gostisbehere is one of nine defensemen on the roster. Jacob Trouba of the University of Michigan is the only returnee from last year’s squad. The other defensemen are Matt Grzelcyk (Boston University), Seth Jones (Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks), Jake McCabe (Wisconsin), Connor Murphy (Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting), Mike Reilly (University of Minnesota), Patrick Sieloff (OHL’s Windsor Spitfires) and Brady Skjei (Minnesota).
Gostisbehere likes his chances of making the final roster.
“But it’s not over yet,” Gostisbehere said. “I still have to prove myself when I get there, and that’s what I plan on doing. I can’t wait to get there.”
Gostisbehere had an impressive effort at the Team USA National Development Camp in August in Lake Placid. He had two goals and two assists in four games during the camp, which served as a chance for Team USA officials to evaluate what players they would have in mind to invite for the preliminary roster.
Team USA coach Phil Housley and general manager Jim Johannson are happy with what they see in Gostisbehere.
“I really like his game,” Housley said during a conference call. “He has some great offensive flair. He makes a nice first pass. His defensive positioning is very, very solid. He’s a sophomore now. He has a little bit more experience, which is going to play an important role.”
Johannson said, “He’s a player that played well at camp. He’s off to a great start on a strong college team. The great experience he had last year collegiately getting to the Frozen Four has been building to this. He’s a player we expect to have success.”
If Gostisbehere does make the final roster, he will miss Union’s two games in the Catamount Cup Dec. 29-30. If Team USA reaches the medal round, Gostisbehere will miss the two games at Lake Superior State Jan. 4-5.
Spending the Christmas holidays in Russia sounds appealing to Gostisbehere.
“I wouldn’t mind that,” he said.
Two other ECACH players made the roster: Cornell forward Cole Bardreau and Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey. …
Team USA’s schedule of games begins with the preliminary round. USA opens Dec. 27 against Germany, followed by Russia on
Dec. 28, Canada on Dec. 30 and Slovakia on Dec. 31. The quarterfinals are Jan. 2, and the semifinals are Jan. 3. The bronze-medal and gold-medal games will take place Jan. 5. …
All of Team USA’s games will be televised by NHL Network.