Shayne Gostisbehere is a bit tired, and he is happy to be eating American food again.
And, yes, Gostisbehere realizes he didn’t make a smart play that led to him getting suspended.
The Union sophomore defenseman returned to campus Monday, just two days after helping Team USA win the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia. The Americans beat defending champion Sweden, 3-1, to win the gold medal for the third time. Team USA previously won in 2004 and 2010.
Gostisbehere, who is from Margate, Fla., spoke about his time with Team USA and winning the gold during a press conference Monday afternoon at Messa Rink.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Gostisbehere said. “I don’t even remember the celebration. I cried, I’ll admit it. It was truly awesome. I look at the medal, sometimes, and you really can’t believe it.”
Gostisbehere is the second Capital Region college hockey player to win gold. Former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute forward Jerry D’Amigo was on the 2010 squad.
It’s a time that Gostisbehere will never forget.
“It’s one of the best hockey experiences of my life,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s different from winning the ECACs last year. It’s a different feeling, knowing that you won for your country.”
Gostisbehere had a goal and an assist in six games. He also had a game-winning overtime goal against Sweden in a WJC pre-tournament game.
But Gostisbehere got in some big trouble for his actions late in the first period of the final preliminary-round game against Slovakia last Monday.
Slovakia forward Matus Matis was carrying the puck up the ice toward the U.S. zone. Gostisbehere was a stride behind Matis when he put his stick between Matis’ legs, hitting him in the groin area. Matis went down briefly, but remained in the game.
However, Gostisbehere received a five-minute major for slashing and a game misconduct. Slovakia scored one power-play goal during the five minutes.
The next day, the International Ice Hockey Federation imposed a one-game suspension on Gostisbehere. He missed the quarterfinal game against the Czech Republic, which Team USA won, 7-0.
Gostisbehere returned for Team USA’s 5-1 semifinal win over Canada, but played just four shifts in the game. He had a regular shift in the gold-medal game.
Gostisbehere wasn’t happy with himself for what he had done.
“He did something to me in the corner, and I got slew-footed,” Gostisbehere said. “I did something stupid. It was dumb, and it hurt my team in the end, putting them on a five-minute power play. I wish I could take it back, but I wouldn’t have changed anything. I’ve still got the gold medal around my neck.”
Asked what he learned from it, Gostisbehere said, “Relax after something happens. Go change, don’t chase him.”
Gostisbehere found Ufa a bit interesting, but he wasn’t crazy about the food.
“I’m just happy to eat normal food. Sorry, Russia,” Gostisbehere said.
And as far as touring the town, Gostisbehere said, “There’s stray dogs everywhere. There are no lanes in the road. It’s like a demolition derby.”
Gostisbehere hopes to be back in the lineup when the 16th-ranked Dutchmen return to ECAC Hockey play with games at Princeton on Friday and at league-leading and No. 5 Quinnipiac on Saturday. Union (3-2-3 ECACH, 9-6-4 overall) is in a slump, going 1-4-3 in its last eight games.
“I can’t wait to get back at it,” said Gostisbehere, who has five goals and eight assists in 15 games. “This [gold medal] is nice, but it’s time to put it in the rear-view mirror. It’s back to Union hockey.”
Union coach Rick Bennett knows he will have to give Gostisbehere some time to recover. He said Gostisbehere won’t practice until at least Thursday.
“Having a little experience at Providence [as an assistant coach] with a couple of guys going through it, and then watching D’Amigo at RPI coming from back from it,” Bennett said. “What we’re trying to do is just make sure he gets his fluids back in him, [and] gets his weight up again.”