Shayne Gostisbehere had the game of his life in his future home hockey arena Saturday night.
But when will the Union College junior defenseman make his decision to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, the team that selected him in the third round of the 2012 NHL draft?
Gostisbehere came home with the Dutchmen on Sunday afternoon, a day after the team captured its first NCAA hockey title by beating Minnesota, 7-4, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Gostisbehere was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four. He had two assists in Thursday’s 5-4 semifinal win over Boston College. In the title game, Gostisbehere upped his game. Not only did he have a goal and two assists, he had a plus-7 defensive rating.
It would have been easy for Gostisbehere to sign a contract with the Flyers right after that performance. Instead, he boarded the team bus outside the Dutchmen’s hotel in downtown Philadelphia at 10 a.m. and came back to campus with his teammates.
“I haven’t made a decision,” Gostisbehere said in back of Messa Rink, where there were about 500 fans who greeted the team. “I’ve come back with my team. I’m just having a good time right now.”
Gostisbehere finished the season with nine goals and 25 assists along with a plus-33 defensive rating, tops among the nation’s defensemen. He said he didn’t speak with Flyers general manager and Minnesota alum Paul Holmgren, who was at the game.
“He sent me a congratulatory text,” said Gostisbehere, who was the ECAC Hockey Co-Player of the Year and Co-Best Defensive Defenseman Award and an All-America.
Union coach Rick Bennett talked with Gostisbehere about the situation. The advice Bennett gave Gostisbehere is to take his time and don’t make a rash decision.
“It was nice to have him on the bus ride back, and to see everything and see all of this,” Bennett said. “I’m glad he did that because Jeremy Welsh didn’t have the chance to do that [in 2012 after signing with Carolina]. I’m proud of Shayne for doing that. It just basically proved that we were a team. Obviously, he was a huge component of that last night.”
Gostisbehere’s performance against the Gophers will have Flyers fans counting the days until he dons the orange, black and white sweater.
He scored the Dutchmen’s first goal midway through the first period that made it 1-1. He skated past two Minnesota defenders into the Gophers’ zone. Gostisbehere then fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle over goalie Adam Wilcox’s glove.
“The goal was phenomenal,” Bennett said. “We needed it at that time.”
Gostisbehere set up Eli Lichtenwald’s goal that gave Union a 3-2 lead with 3:54 left in the first. He headed toward the net from the left wing. As he started to skate behind the net, Gostisbehere centered the puck across the crease to Lichtenwald. His first shot was blocked, but Lichtenwald put home the rebound.
The big play came late in the game and Union clinging to a 5-4 lead. Gostisbehere was on his rear end when he knocked the puck off of Taylor Cammarata’s stick at the top of the Union left circle. Mat Bodie picked it up and sent it to Kevin Sullivan, who skated into the Minnesota zone and beat Wilcox over his glove with 1:22 left.
“He’s a big-time player, and he played great for us,” Bodie said. “He really got us going. The plus-7, that’s just a crazy stat. It’s a pretty cool stat, too. He’ll have that for the rest of his life.”