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Gaudreau Puts Together Historic Run

Saturday January 5, 2013

Former USHL Rookie of the Year John Gaudreau is the first player ever to win a Clark Cup, NCAA Championship, and gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship. (photo by Jim Naprstek)

Former USHL forward becomes first player ever to win Clark Cup, NCAA title, and World Junior Championship gold medal

Just over two years ago, a kid from Carneys Point, New Jersey showed up in Dubuque for the start of a USHL training camp with the Dubuque Fighting Saints.  Appearances definitely were deceiving because who could have ever dreamed that a 5-5, 147-pound forward would accomplish so much in hockey…well except for John Gaudreau.

One of his original goals was just to be in the lineup for all 60 USHL regular season games.  A tall task for a player who didn’t stand so tall and for a team that had a lot of question marks as it began its first season in the USHL.  Under the guidance of head coach Jim Montgomery, it proved to be a magical season for the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Gaudreau proved that his heart was much bigger than his stature.  Not only did he play in all 60 games, he excelled on the ice. 

Gaudreau put up 72 points (36g, 36a) in the regular season to not only lead his team, but finished fourth overall in League scoring.  His 36 goals were second most in the USHL and his 15 power play tallies led all skaters.  The outstanding season earned him the nod as USHL Rookie of the Year.  But it wouldn’t end there as Gaudreau put up a team-leading 11 points (5g, 6a) in 11 playoff games to lead the Dubuque Fighting Saints to the Clark Cup title.

A few weeks later, Gaudreau would realize another hockey dream when his named was called by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Draft, making him the 104th pick overall.  A whirlwind few months, especially for a kid who had yet to celebrate his 18th birthday.

The eventful few months would be some of the most significant of his young career as they helped him make the jump to college hockey.  A scholarship to hockey powerhouse Boston College was next up for Gaudreau, but would he be able to make an impact right away as a freshman? He continued to prove any doubters wrong as he went on to play all 44 games for the Boston College Eagles and scored 44 points (21g, 23a), second most on the team.  The forward was dynamic during a 19-game winning streak for BC that culminated with a NCAA Championship.

Two championships in less than a year and building a storyline worthy of a Hollywood movie script, what more could a young hockey player achieve?  One thing that had eluded him was a spot on the U.S. National Junior Team as he was cut just before the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.  He would be home for the holidays last winter and watched his fellow countrymen finish out of medal contention. 

After his brilliant freshman campaign that was filled with honors and accolades, he went to the U.S. evaluation camp this past summer wanting to show decision makers that he deserved a spot on the U.S. National Junior Team that would head to Ufa, Russia for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.  He performed well at the camp and was dominate early in his sophomore season at Boston College with 23 points (11g, 12a) in 14 games.

Gaudreau wouldn’t be home for the holidays this year as he did make the U.S. team.  He started out the tournament “slow” by his standards and failed to score a goal through the first three games despite his stellar play that created several quality chances.  He broke out of his mini scoring slump in typical Gaudreau fashion by scoring two goals in the 9-3 win over Slovakia and then recording a hat trick in the 7-0 victory against the Czech Republic to put the U.S. in the semifinals.  The high-scoring forward continued his assault on international goaltenders when he added two big goals in the 5-1 win over Canada to earn a spot in the gold-medal game.

It was an unusual scene on Saturday to see Gaudreau held off the scoresheet but his impact was felt for the U.S. team, which had 17 USHL alumni, as they won the gold medal with a 3-1 win over Sweden.  He still finished the tournament as the leading goal scorer and tied for the U.S. team scoring lead with nine points (7g, 2a).

A gold medal is now added to the already full trophy case for John Gaudreau, which earned him the unlikely “hat trick” of being the first player ever to win a USHL Clark Cup, NCAA Championship, and gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship.  Even more impressive was those accomplishments came over the short span of just 20 months.

It was just 21 months earlier that the 5-5, 147-pound kid from New Jersey showed up in Dubuque hoping just to play in the USHL, but now “Johnny Hockey” is gaining legendary status and enjoying the things of which hockey dreams are made.

 

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 11th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2012-13.  With 20 NHL Draft picks on team rosters and over 230 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools this season, the USHL has emerged as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.  For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League’s social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive).  Fans can also watch USHL action all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com).

It’s not just hockey. It’s the USHL.

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