MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Gopher hockey team plays an exhibition game against an under-18 national team, one that has a heavy dose of Minnesota making up the roster.
For Gopher hockey fans Friday night is a glimpse into the future at Mariucci Arena. For some teenage phenoms, it’s a chance to skate against the Gophers on their hallowed rink.
“I’ve been dreaming about playing here since I was 3 years old and I finally get a chance to do it a little bit early. So it’s gonna be a good time,” said Travis Boyd, from Team USA.
There are four Minnesota teens on Team USA, including former Hopkins star Boyd, who will someday play for the Gophers. St. Thomas Academy goalie Matt McNeely, who is on his way to UMD next season, is also on the team. Both are eager to showcase their talents on Minnesota ice.
“Absolutely, I really want to get out here and have a good night. Maybe get a goal or two, that wouldn’t be too bad,” said Boyd.
“Grew up watching this team in Mariucci here and being able to put on the Team USA jersey and play against them … there is nothing better than that,” said McNeely.
Playing on the team is a great opportunity for the kids. They play a grueling and rugged schedule that simulates what the Division 1 hockey experience is going to be like.
Team USA is based out of Ann Arbor and plays a 60-game schedule — the bulk of those games are on the road against college, USHL and European teams.
“It’s a lot of adversity and challenge not only on the ice and practice and games, but just the travel and making themselves a professional,” said Team USA Coach, Ron Rolston.
WCCO-TV’s Eric Nelson Reports