Returning with experience
by Dhiren Mahiban|25 DEC 2018
Ryan Poehling is one of the returning for Team USA at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
share
Going from the college schedule, which typically sees teams play just twice a week to the condensed schedule of the World Junior Championship was an adjustment for American forward Ryan Poehling.
 
The 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship will see the Americans play four preliminary round games in six days in Victoria, B.C. beginning on Boxing Day against the Slovaks, but Poehling, one of five returnees from the 2018 event, is ready for the workload.  
 
“Knowing that going into it, kind of being mentally prepared helps you out a lot,” Poehling said. “Just getting fluids in you and all those things that get you ready to play the big games in this tournament.” 
 
The Lakeville, Minnesota native scored a goal and two assists at last year’s tournament as the Americans defeated the Czech Republic to win a record third consecutive medal. 
 
Now Poehling is looking to pass on the wisdom he picked up at his first under-20 event on to some of the newcomers the American team. 
 
“We’ve got 20-23 guys a night that need to buy in and that’s the biggest thing,” said Poehling. “We come from all different places and you’re all kind of the top guys in your organization so to come here and get 23 guys that can buy in for these three weeks, it makes a big difference and that’s kind of what it takes to win this tournament.”
 
The 6-foot-2, 183-pound forward understands what it takes to win tournaments on the international stage. Poehling contributed three goals and two assists as the Americans won gold at the 2017 Under-18 World Championship in Slovakia. 
 
Poehling also has a Bronze Medal from the 2018 World Juniors, but is hoping for a better result this time around. 
 
After the Canadians won gold on American soil last year, Poehling is hoping the U.S. can return the favour.
 
“Last time we were (in Canada) USA took it home (in 2017) so it’s kind of pretty special that we’re defending that title here in Canada,” he said. “It’d be fun. Going back to last year where we were home, it’ll be a different experience now. I’ve heard they sell out every game so it should be an exciting time.”
 
A Montreal Canadiens prospect, Poehling is in his third season at St. Cloud State University working on being more assertive on the puck. 
 
The 19-year-old has three goals and 14 assists in 16 games this season helping the Huskies jump out to a 13-1-2 record prior to the Christmas break. 
 
“I think just attacking more, being more direct towards the net and getting pucks there not only for yourself but for your teammates,” Poehling said of the improvements he’s making to his game. “I think those are the things - just moving my feet, finding open areas and doing those things.”
 
Poehling has no shortage of help at school in Minnesota. His older brothers, twins Jack and Nick, are also members of the Huskies’ hockey team. The three brothers are also finance majors following the career path of their father Tim who is an accountant. 
 
“It’s been great, yeah. It’s been a lot of fun,” Poehling said. “We live with each other too so to spend the last three years with them, playing at a prestige level, NCHC college hockey, it’s a great experience. 
 
“Test scores are coming in this week, I’m a little nervous, but it’s good stuff. School’s not our best thing so we kind of root each other on for the best.” 
 
Described as a smart two-way forward that plays well on and off the puck Poehling says he watched the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Patrice Bergeron growing up. 
 
“I didn’t really try to model my game after anyone, I liked watching Pavel Datsyuk, that’s probably my favourite player,” he said. “I still watch Patrice Bergeron from the Bruins and try to find little things that he does that makes his game better.”
 
As he gets set to play in front of sold out crowds in Victoria, B.C., Poehling is well aware of what to expect. He got a first-hand taste of Canadian hockey fans while attending camps in Montreal the previous two summers.

“It is crazy. You’re out there in the middle of summer (for camps) and people are lining out the doors just to meet you, it’s pretty special,” said Poehling. “It adds pressure to you, but that’s all fun.”