Gaudreau not ready to relax yet
While Johnny Gaudreau could be forgiven for looking forward to taking a break in order to reflect on an whirlwind 12 months, the Calgary Flames youngster has insisted he isn’t ready to call it a season just yet. Following on from his Hobey Baker Memorial Award success, Gaudreau is now preparing to represent Team USA at the 2014 IIHF Men’s World Championship in Minsk, Belarus.
In what has been an incredible season for the 5-foot 6-inches, 155-pound forward, the New Jersey native has gone from playing college hockey to making his NHL debut and now playing in the World Championship. Gaudreau was awarded the Hobey Baker for recording 36 goals and 44 assists in 40 games for Boston College before signing a three-year, entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames on April 11.
Gaudreau was Calgary’s fourth round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft before being farmed out to Boston College, where he went on rack up 175 points over the course of three seasons. Gaudreau’s 80 points last season was the third-highest single-season total in the history of Boston College and the most of any college hockey player since Peter Sejna’s recorded 82 points for Colorado College in 2002-03, with the 20-year old now tied with Paul Kariya’s Hockey East record with points in 31-straight games.
It didn’t take long for Gaudreau to establish himself with the Flames following his arrival in April, with the rookie making an instant impression by scoring his maiden NHL goal with his first touch against the Vancouver Canucks during his 15-minute debut appearance on the ice for the Flames.
“It’s been a crazy few weeks here. I got the chance to win the Hobey Baker and get to sign with the Flames, then my first NHL game. It was a pretty emotional week and it was tough to try to handle everything. It was exciting. I had a blast.”
The upcoming World Championship will be the third international tournament in the past four years in which Gaudreau has represented the United States. The forward was a key part of his country’s gold medal-winning side that won the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship, leading the tournament with seven goals in seven games on his way to being named in the tournament’s all-star team. Gaudreau also represented Team USA at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, recording two goals and four points to help the team to the silver medal.
“It means a lot. I’ve had the chance to put on that jersey two or three times already and every time is pretty special,” said Gaudreau.
The youngster also admitted he feels his previous experience of representing his country will be a benefit to him during the upcoming World Championships in Belarus this month, which sees Russia begin as favourites with the latest hockey odds.
“I think it definitely gives me an idea of how it plays going overseas and the bigger ice surface and things like that,” he said. “The guys I’ll be playing are a lot more talented and skilled than the guys I was playing against at other international levels but I’m excited for the challenge.”