When we returned from Russia, after three plane flights and about 30 hours of travel, everyone was pretty exhausted. I was just able to enjoy a bowl of my mom's chicken salad before crashing in my own bed, which felt great. I’m so thankful for the stateside food, as is everyone else. I think almost everyone on the team went to Chipotle first thing the next morning.
As I've been working out the jet lag, I've had some time to reflect on my experience with the Steel in Russia and let it all sink in. First of all, on behalf of all the Steel players, I want to thank the USHL, and the entire Steel organization, and especially our owner Larry Robbins, for giving us this tremendous opportunity to represent our league and our country.
To represent the United States was a huge honor, and the legacy left at the tournament from USHL teams in past years was very evident as we played in front of three sellout crowds, the only ones of the tournament. For our group this tournament was a pivotal chance for us to buy in as a team to our new systems, our identity as a team, and the overall culture of the Steel organization. We dealt with adversity, learned a lot about ourselves, and were able to come home with a bronze medal.
Now we have a little time off before we get back into the swing of things. Some of our guys are starting high school now, and those of us who graduated are also preparing for the year. I'm planning on tutoring kids as a part-time job, and possibly taking some online classes. All of us are very excited to start the season at our new home in Fox Valley. We can't wait to get back in front of our own fans at our home opener September 26 against the USA U-17s. Thanks to everyone who followed our progress and supported the Steel on our journey at the JCWC and we are thrilled to turn our focus to the upcoming USHL season.
Ryan Blankemeier #25
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @RyanBlanks12
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.