HALIFAX – Team USA called up two new faces to the national team on Tuesday. Jordan Leopold is a veteran of two previous World Championship tournaments while New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky made his debut last night in the 6-4 win over Germany.
This is Dubinsky’s first opportunity representing the United States at any level of competition. He was invited to the 2004 National Junior Evaluation camp in 2004 and the summer U20 USA summer evaluation camp in the summer of 2005.
Drafted in the second round, 60th overall in 2004, Dubinsky is one of the young prospects the New York Rangers are counting on to continue the youth movement established in 2004 as a big departure from New York’s penchant for going after big name unrestricted free agents that did not work out. Usually that plan came at the expense of creating a pipeline of prospects.
Just before and the after the lockout through solid scouting and drafting, the Rangers have cultivated a core of young players, including Nigel Dawes, Marc Staal, and Dubinsky as pieces towards a solid future.
With a mix of skilled veterans like Jaromir Jagr, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, and Brendan Shanahan alongside these talented rookies, the Rangers have again become a formidable team again after failing to make the playoffs for seven seasons prior to the lockout.
An Anchorage, Alaska native, Dubinsky made his NHL debut during the 2006-07 campaign where he saw action in six games. This past season he played in every game for the Rangers, scoring 14 goals and 40 points. He was the one centremen who proved effective playing alongside Jagr.
“I learned a lot this season and the most exciting thing is how much I grew as a player and as a person,” said Dubinsky about his first full season with the Rangers. “With the group of guys we had in there I was able to just soak so much up and gain so much knowledge and experience there from them.”
Without any pressure to immediately make an impact, Dubinsky was able to come to the rink most days and simply come and play and learn. As a result, he developed and playing on one of the top lines helped his confidence.
Of course, Dubinsky would have had it end differently than it did with the Pittsburgh Penguins defeating the Rangers in five games of the second rounf of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. He finished the playoffs with four goals and eight points in 10 games.
Here in Halifax, Dubinsky now has the chance to open some eyes at these World Championships. A strong tournament mean that USA Hockey will have to give Dubinsky some consideration when deciding future national team assignments at the World Championships or Olympic games.
“This is my first experience at this but one thing is for certain is that it’s an honor playing for your country so you compete hard by playing a solid sixty minutes per night. I’m sure other players representing their countries feel the same.”
It’s also the chance to engage with players he spent the better part of 10 months competing against.
“It’s a good time of the year to get together with a bunch of guys you really never had the opportunity to play with and come together as a team.” He said of his first international experience. “The message was made pretty clear to have fun but work hard and treat each team for what they are, serious opponents.”
Against Finland on Sunday, the Americans will have to tighten up their defensive effort to avoid some of what took place against Germany. Still, their greatest asset thus far has been the power play, which is at 41% efficiency.
“We have a lot of great skill guys and players who can put the puck in the net,” he said talking about his side’s talent level. “When we compete and play hard it makes it tough on our opponent and that is what we aim to do.”