Three Gophers to Try for World Junior Gold

Ben Gotz

As finals approach, freshman defenseman Ryan Collins has been doing some extra studying with his roommate.

Collins isn’t studying for a class though. He’s been receiving tips from freshman forward Leon Bristedt on how to communicate on the ice if and when the two face each other in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Bristedt has been named to the Swedish preliminary roster, while Collins and sophomore forward Hudson Fasching are on the preliminary roster for the U.S.

The two teams are scheduled to meet in a pre-tournament game on Dec. 23, and if Collins is still on the roster by then he’ll have a few words he can say to his opponents.

“I’ve taught him some Swedish words that he can use to chirp us,” Bristedt said. One of the words Collins learned was tjockis, which means “fatty” in Swedish, as well as a few words Bristedt chose not to share.

While most of the Gophers are beginning a month long break in their season, Bristedt, Collins and Fasching all hope to be competing for their country during their break.

The three are not guaranteed spots on their respective national teams, but Fasching was a member of the U.S. team last year and head coach Don Lucia said he expected Fasching to be a “core player” on the U.S. team this year.

The tournament will take place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Toronto and Montreal, and head coach Don Lucia expects the intensity level at the event to be huge.

“The best way for me to liken it in the U.S. is two weeks of the Super Bowl,” Lucia said. “That’s how big it is up in Canada.”

Bristedt said the tournament is also popular in Sweden, second only among hockey tournaments to the Olympic Games.

Bristedt represented Sweden in previous international competitions, but he said it will be different going back after spending almost half a year adjusting to North American hockey with the Gophers.

“I’m getting used to it here, but now I’m going back and play the Swedish style,” Bristedt said. “It’s going to be a little bit hard, but I kind of like it.”

Another aspect of the games Bristedt said he was excited for was to be reunited with one of his closest friends, Adam Brodecki.

Bristedt said he and Brodecki were born just a month apart in the same hospital room outside of Stockholm, and the two grew up together in school and on the ice.

And now, the two forwards will attempt to make the Swedish roster and bring home a gold medal for their country.

“We were the first players that ever came out of [the IK Waxholm club] to ever become something,” Bristedt said. “It’s so cool that I get to play [in the] World Juniors with my best friend.”

Fasching and Collins both said they were looking forward to reuniting with old friends on their team as well. Both are products of the U.S. National Development Team Program and expect to see some familiar faces with the team.

One of Fasching’s pieces of advice to Collins though, was to not go easy on any old friends during training camp.

“They’re not old friends on the ice,” Fasching said. “You’ve got to go out there and compete as hard as you can all the time.”

Fasching said he was eager to make up for the U.S. team’s performance last year, where the team lost to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.

“I think this year we’re going to come back with a little bit of a vengeance,” Fasching said. “, we don’t want that result again. That was not fun.”

And if getting a better result means going through a Swedish teammate, then so be it.

“I’m definitely ok with it,” Fasching said of potentially laying a check on Bristedt. “We lay each other out in practice all the time.”

Skjei to Miss Mariucci Classic

Junior defenseman Brady Skjei is not expected to play in the Mariucci classic, the Gophers first games after their break from competition, Lucia said.

Skjei, who missed almost the entire month of November with a lower body injury, was injured in last Saturday’s tie with Michigan State, according to Lucia.

“I feel bad for Brady because he just came back from another injury,” Lucia said. “And now he’s got to go through it again.”