Schroeder brings gold to Gophers

The sophomore scored a gold medal as a member of Team USA.

Gopher Hockey vs. Bemidji St.

Ian Larson

Gopher Hockey vs. Bemidji St.

Max Sanders

With all of the success and accolades the Gophers menâÄôs hockey program has had historically, itâÄôs hard to find any new record or trophy that has yet to go unclaimed. But international competition success on the junior level had eluded the Minnesota program for 33 years until a sophomore from Prior Lake, Minn. etched his name in the record books. Jordan Schroeder had twice before competed in the World Junior Hockey Championships as a member of Team USA. In 2009 the team lost in the quarterfinal round to Slovakia and fell to a disappointing fifth place. The finish outside of medal contention helped motivate Schroeder to prepare even harder for this yearâÄôs international competition. âÄúIt was frustrating last year, especially losing in that quarterfinal game,âÄù Schroeder said. âÄúThe three of us that were returning, we had a mindset coming into this year that we wanted to share with the rest of the team. We knew that we could do it, and it showed.âÄù Team USA underwent major changes after the 2009 finish. Of the 22 players on the 2009 roster, just Schroeder and two others made the 2010 team that competed in Canada. For the first time, a training camp was held in North Dakota. Instead of just getting named to a spot, players had to compete and earn their way onto the roster. âÄúI think thatâÄôs what helped with the training camp up in North Dakota; before theyâÄôd never done anything like that,âÄù Schroeder said. âÄúGuys had to earn their spots, and I think they did a good job with that.âÄù Team USA was hoping to earn its second World Juniors Championship ever, the first coming in 2004 when they won the gold medal in Finland. This time they would have to earn the gold medal by beating a Canadian team that was hosting the tournament and had already beaten them earlier in the games, when they won a shootout victory on New YearâÄôs Eve, 5-4. In the championship game Schroeder scored the second goal for Team USA, giving them the early 2-1 lead. After taking a 5-3 lead later, Team USA looked poised to earn its second gold medal, but team Canada stormed back. The Canadian team tied the game at 5 and forced overtime, but John CarlsonâÄôs goal four minutes into the extra period gave Team USA the championship and Schroeder his first gold medal in three years of international competition. âÄúYou canâÄôt explain it in words,âÄù Schroeder said. âÄúA gold medal at that level, at that tournament, youâÄôll remember the rest of your life. ItâÄôs probably one of the top moments in my life so far.âÄù Schroeder became the first Gophers hockey player to earn gold at the World Junior Hockey Championships. He also joined the Gophers players from the 1960 and 1980 Olympic hockey teams as the only Minnesota players to win international gold medals . The head coach of Team USA was former Gophers player Dean Blais . Schroeder said he saw similarities between his international coach and Gophers head coach Don Lucia. âÄúI think the main thing him and Don Lucia both try to get across to me is just competing,âÄù Schroeder said. âÄúHe said when IâÄôm competing, thereâÄôs not too many guys that can compete with me at that level; IâÄôm just trying to keep that work ethic up.âÄù Schroeder returned to the Minnesota hockey team in time for the non-conference series against Harvard, and the team has played some of its best hockey since his return, going 3-0-1 since his return . Schroeder sees one major similarity between the team that won gold and the Gophers team that is currently riding a 7-1-1 streak over its last nine games: hard work. âÄúYou look at CanadaâÄôs lineup, they have a ton of skill up there, but I think they overlooked our guys and how hard we worked,âÄù Schroeder said. âÄúI think if we do the same thing âĦ if we work hard, finish our checks and make simple plays, itâÄôll turn out well.âÄù Just three days after winning gold, Schroeder jumped back into collegiate competition playing in the Harvard series. The short turnaround was easy to deal with for the soft-spoken associate captain for one reason: he wants a chance to help this Minnesota team achieve the same success he experienced with Team USA. âÄúI love the game of hockey, playing every weekend; itâÄôs a lot of fun out there,âÄù Schroeder said. âÄúI just want to bring that confidence and that high that I had from the world juniors back, and I think itâÄôs helped so far.âÄù