Pushing The Competition To The Brink

Late Roster Addition Brings Another Layer To Potent U.S. Offense

Bobby Brink (#25, far right) celebrates a goal with teammates in the Americans 6-3 preliminary round win over Russia.Bobby Brink (#25, far right) celebrates a goal with teammates in the Americans 6-3 preliminary round win over Russia.

A transatlantic flight, a lengthy layover, an additional flight and a car drive on top of that.

 

Not an ideal gameday routine for Bobby Brink, who was summoned to join the U.S. team midway through the IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship.

 

Despite the circuitous route he took to get to the Fjallraven Center in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, it didn’t show up in his play. Brink finished with a pair of assists, showcasing his playmaking flair in a 6-3 win over Russia.

 

“I flew out at 11:30 a.m., from Minneapolis to Chicago,” Brink said via telephone after the U.S. finished pool play with a 7-1 victory over Latvia yesterday. “Flew from Chicago to Stockholm, had a four-hour layover in Stockholm, flew to Umea and then had an hour drive to where we are now.” 

 

The Excelsior, Minn., native arrived at the rink an hour before puck drop, and quelled any notion of sitting out the game.

 

“It was tough,” Brink said. “I didn’t really get to warm up or get much sleep either the whole day before, I was pretty much up for 24 hours. I just got there, got a quick stretch, got all my equipment and pretty much went right out for on-ice warmups.”

 

Brink is the lone member of the 23-man roster that isn’t part of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, as he plays for the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League.

 

With such a brief introduction to the team, it enabled Brink to simply play his game rather than worry about developing immediate chemistry on a team that often showcases its synergy gained over the course of two seasons.

 

“It was tough on the legs but it was easy to be able to jump right into it and get in a game right away,” Brink said.

 Brink sported a U.S. jersey back in December in the World Junior A Challenge. The winger had two goals and six assists for the U.S., helping lead the team to a first-place finish while grabbing MVP honors.Brink sported a U.S. jersey back in December in the World Junior A Challenge. The winger had two goals and six assists for the U.S., helping lead the team to a first-place finish while grabbing MVP honors.

With Monday being an off-day, it allowed the 5-foot-9, 165-pound forward to settle in against Latvia, where he added another two points in the win. 

 

The U.S. Under-18 National Team is looking to rebound from last year’s heartbreaking loss to Finland in the gold-medal game. With five returners from that team, the group is playing with a vengeance as they set their sights on a rematch in the quarterfinals.

 

Adding a dynamic playmaker like Brink to what is already an explosive attack only bolsters the U.S. hopes of once again striking gold. They’ve accomplished the feat in the U18MWC in seven of the past 10 years.


So far in the tournament, Brink’s inclusion has been warranted as he’s meshed with an especially skilled group that has been clicking from the initial puck drop of the tournament. They’ve scored 31 goals through four games. Cole Caufield has 11 of them, a single-tournament U.S. record.

 

“We’ve been playing really well, controlling play,” Brink said. “We’re playing really well as a team with puck movement and creating scoring chances.”

 

Brink is no stranger to stepping up his game when the games matter most, either. Brink led his high school team, Minnetonka High to the 2018 Minnesota State Championship. He built off of that with a prolific season in the USHL, scoring 68 points (35G, 33A) in 43 games for Sioux City, which has led to the forward garnering serious consideration to be selected in the 1st Round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

 

The discussion is justified. Brink has produced at an elite level in the United States’ Tier I junior league, his 1.58 points per game trailing only NTDP-products Alex Turcotte (2.13) and Jack Hughes (2.00), the latter being projected as the first overall selection of the upcoming draft.

 

Committed to the University of Denver for 2020, Brink also starred on the 2018 U.S. Junior Select Team, winning gold in the World Junior A Challenge in early December. The winger had two goals and six assists in six games, earning Tournament MVP honors.

 

 Recently rated the #16 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, Brink was tabbed the USHL Forward of the Year. (Photo Credit: Jim Utterback)Recently rated the #16 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, Brink was tabbed the USHL Forward of the Year. (Photo Credit: Jim Utterback)

“He’s a competitor,” said Marc Boxer, USA Hockey’s director of Junior Hockey. “Someone is going to take him early and be super excited that they did. He’s just compete, compete, compete, every shift. He wants to win, he wants to score, and that’s what puts him over the top. He’s skilled, he’s talented and he can skate. He’s not that big, but then again that doesn’t matter as much in this day and age.”

 

If Brink, who is currently slotted on the second line, continues to score, it could be huge for his draft stock with so many eyes on this tournament and the NHL draft only two months away. 

 

His inclusion could also pay off handsomely for a U.S. squad with golden aspirations. That journey, which requires three more wins to be fufilled, continues on Thursday at 9:30am ET against Finland.

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