2015 USHL Scholar Athlete of the Year Award winner Ryan Blankemeier is keeping a blog for USHL.com of his experience while at the 2015 JCWC Tournament held in Russia. Blankemeier is committed to play college hockey at Dartmouth College, and will be playing in his second USHL season this year.
This week, the Chicago Steel had our training camp in New Jersey. We had met most of the new guys at main camp back in June, so it was exciting to be able to reconnect with everyone and learn a little more about each other.
All of the boys are itching to get back on the ice and compete, so all of the battles and small area games that we've been doing all week have been tough, as well as rewarding. We've also had some grueling lifts after our practices, but the boys provided some great music to get us through and we had fun with them.
To have some fun and build team chemistry, we've done activities at the rink as well as sightsee around the area. Our owner had us over for a day, and all the boys had a great time playing all sorts of games there. We went to the 9/11 Memorial and saw and felt a great deal about an event that many of us were too young to remember clearly. We were lucky enough to be able to hear a talk on 9/11 from our President of Hockey Operations Mark Lotito, who was a New York City firefighter. Learning more about the tragedy was really eye-opening for all of us and put a lot in perspective for us right before we go oversees to represent our country. We also went to Times Square and walked around in groups, and then had a great team dinner downtown.
So far the experience on and off the ice has been unbelievable and our group has really come together in the time that we've had. We head to Russia later today for the Junior Club World Cup and all of us can't wait to have more experiences over there, along with trying to win a championship.
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.