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ASHI reached out to a handful of players who participated in the 2015 Men’s Team USA Selection Camp and asked them their thoughts on the weekend.

Steve Gregory – Forward (Pittsburgh Gods)
Pittsburgh, PA

Question 1: What was your mindset going into this weekend?
Going into the weekend, I felt like I had a good idea of what to expect given I recently went through this on the other side of the coin with the Junior program. When the weekend finally got started, I realized that wasn’t completely true; that the staff made it its own. Leading up to the camp, I knew the hard work and dedication it would require to be in the best shape possible for when the camp finally did arrived. I truly believe those that prepared themselves accordingly shined and made a name for themselves in a very highly competitive weekend of hockey.

Question 2: Was the turn out what you expected?
As far as the quality is concerned, it was an unbelievable weekend of hockey. When the rosters were first posted for public viewing, I wasn’t sure of many of the names but throughout the weekend, you got to know some of the mystery guys better and realized that everyone belonged there. Of course some of the biggest names in the country were missing for one reason or another but our jobs as players were not to worry about who wasn’t there but to focus on our game and meshing well with those who were. Those who were missing from this weekend missed out in more than one way and that’s on them and only them.

Question 3: Did you feel the format was structured well? Did it give you as a player enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
The structure was quite interesting and now that I have had some time to reflect on it, the multiple different formats and structures each served its own purpose. While at first the rosters were relatively small and games very short, it gave the coaches an opportunity to show who was conditioned and allowed for the more skillful attributes of the game to shine through. On Sunday, it was more about the structure and who could still be effective in a systematic style of hockey. Both formats served their own purposes but I can assure you, no one feels shorted of playing time and opportunities to showcase their abilities. Fantastic weekend once again from ASHI and certainly the right steps on the road to success.

Bryce Erb – Goalie (Phoenixville Graffix)
Barto, PA

Question 1: What was your mindset going into this weekend?
To play as well as you could and give the advisory staff a headache trying to decide what players to select.

Question 2: Was the turn out what you expected?
No, a lot more people were invited to camp, but chose not to come for whatever reason. I’d say I’m disappointed but its in the past now and all you can do is move forward.

Question 3: Did you feel the format was structured well? Did each player have enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
The format was set up the best it could with what we had, it would have been nice if each scrimmage team had an extra guy or two, but it tested people the way it was set up which was great. I think everyone had plenty of time to be evaluated and now all you can do is wait for a good or bad phone call from Mr. Tarantino to let you know if you’re invited to the next camp.

Steve Zimmerman – Defenseman (NJ Supreme)
Blackwood, NJ

Question 1: What was your mindset going into this weekend?
My mindset, like I imagine most guys, was to take advantage of every opportunity I had on the rink and make the selection staff say to themselves “We need this guy on this team”.

Question 2: Was the turn out what you expected?
The turnout was top notch all around. Offense, defense and goalies all had some of the best in our game playing this weekend. We’re there some big names missing for whatever reasons, most definitely but I think that just speaks of how much talent we have in the US with all the guys that came out this weekend.

Question 3: Did you feel the format was structured well? Did each player have enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
I thought the structure worked out really well. It was a lot of hockey but I think that also goes into showing what guys are in shape and wanted to make the team, something the coaches stressed. Multiple PPs and PKs at the end of games also I thought gave every guy involved a chance to maybe excel in a certain special teams area. Overall, the coaches and staff did a great job.

Tommy Ruiz – Forward (NJ Supreme)
Williamstown, NJ

Question 1: What was your mindset going into this weekend?
My mind set was not to think of it as a tryout and to try to play my role for whatever my team I was assigned to.  I think people going into it, as a tryout would have slipped into an individual mindset and play for themselves.

Question 2: Was the turn out what you expected?
I saw allot of faces I didn’t know which was refreshing to see. Everyone gave it all they had which was important.

Question 3: Did you feel the format was structured well? Did each player have enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
The format was great. There is always room to improve.so seeing the adjustments made by the staff were good. I don’t think anybody was use to playing 5 games in one day let alone playing with only 2 lines. Not quite sure how I even got up this morning. But if anyone said they didn’t make the team because they didn’t get the opportunity is a liar and full of shit.

John Petito – Forward (Buffalo Fusion)
West Islip, NY

Question 1: How did the Camp go for you?
I thought camp was a pretty special thing to be a part of. Its not everyday you get invited to something like this. Being from Long Island, playing with legends Mark Goodey and Anthony Cillo, they are always reminding me of stories of how they played in World Championships, and that they are something you need to set your mind to. These guys have literally lived through it all, played on gold medal teams. Its something we all want to accomplish. To share the same stories for when we get older. It was awesome to see the guys at camp come out and believe in each other.

Question 2: Did you feel the format was structured well? Did each player have enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
As far as the format goes, Saturday was tough on a lot of guys because it basically simulated an entire tournament in one day. Everyone went out and did their jobs, played hard, left it all out there.  

Question 3: How did you feel the coaches did running the benches?
Of course with the help of the coaches who ran the respective teams benches, which was good to have some guidance in a try out situation. Overall, the process was top notch and USA Ball Hockey is on the right path.

Kenny Patrone – Defenseman (GPDC Arsenal)
Washington Township, NJ

Question 1:  What was your mindset going into this weekend?
The camp was great, the talent was unreal and it was a true honor to be even invited let alone play on the same rink as some of these guys.  I feel bad for the people making the team because you could literally pick anyone from the tryouts; we are lucky to have so much talent.

Question 2:  Did you feel the format was structured well? Did each player have enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
See I had an advantage to this weekend because for the U-20 team, we had the same set up for try outs but just playing at this level was exhausting and with the amount of games that we played I think the coaches were sick of evaluating us just as much as our bodies wanted us to stop playing.

Question 3:  What will you take from this experience?
This experience really opened my eyes to the talent and potential we as a country have, and the amount of work you have to put in to even be considered for a spot on the team.

Kevin Roby – Forward (DC Phantoms)
Odenton, MD

Question 1:  What was your mindset going into this weekend?
My mindset going into the weekend was to just stay focused and play the best hockey I can. Let the rest handle itself out.

Question 2:  Was the turn out what you expected?
The turnout was everything and more than what I expected, I thought every player there deserved to be there. It was fun competition.

Question 3:  Did you feel the format was structured well? Did each player have enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
The format was great, was tough to get through all those games in 2 days… But that is why you have to work out and stay in shape in order to get through it. I thought there was plenty enough time to get evaluated.

Dom Castle – Forward (PA Caspers)
Philadelphia, PA

Question 1:  What was your mindset going into this weekend?
Going into the weekend I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was going to be good competition from kids I’ve seen and kids I’ve never seen play.

Question 2: Was the turn out what you expected?
The turn out was way more intense then expected and I was very surprised how organized it was.

Question 3:  Did you feel the format was structured well? Did each player have enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
There was definitely enough rink time for everyone. For me it was way more time on the rink than I expected. But in the end I think it showed how you play in tough situations. All around I think it was run very well.

Jason Feairheller – Forward (Phoenixville Graffix)
Scranton, PA

Question 1:  What was your mindset going into this weekend?
Going into the weekend I knew there would be a lot of great players here and the games were going to be physically demanding. My mindset was to run as hard as I can for as long as I can, create turnovers, and make good plays.

Question 2: Was the turn out what you expected?
The turnout was exactly what I expected. The competition was top notch. Going into the weekend I figured about there would be about 50 guys attending the camp.

Question 3:  Did you feel the format was structured well? Did each player have enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
I think playing games is the best way to evaluate talent. All of the teams were divided up fairly and the games were all very close so I would say everyone had a fair shot. Everyone definitely had enough time on the rink. One line didn’t get any more playing time than any other line.

Isaac Bagwell – Forward (Metro Atlanta Street Hockey Association (MASHA)
Gainesville, GA

Question 1: How did the Camp go for you?
I thought the camp went really well for me.  It was great to meet the coaches and get a chance to play with some of the best guys in the country. The first couple of games were hard but once I got warmed up I felt like I improved over the last few games.

Question 2:  Did you feel the format was structured well? Did each player have enough rink time to be properly evaluated?
I felt like the structure was good.  It was intense to have so many games the first day but I understood that the coaches wanted to see how we could handle having so many games with a shorter bench.  I felt like everyone was given plenty of time to be evaluated having 4 teams with less players and it was nice to have the extra line change the second day to show how we would play having that extra 40 seconds or so to catch our breath.

Question 3:  What will you take from this experience?
Overall it was an awesome experience.  It was the first time playing up north for me and being able to play at that elite level.  It was great to see so many amazing players.  It gave me a chance to see areas that I could work on to improve my game. I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Article by Kevin Cooley