WJC – Louie Belpedio
Edition: 2016 – Team USA (“A”) – Result: Bronze medal
Location : Helsinki, Finland
Q: How was your experience representing the United States?
A: It was a lot of fun, luckily I’ve had the chance to represent them before the World Junior, for like U-17 and U-18 stuff, but World Juniors was like a whole different ballgame, a lot of fun.
Q: At that age, how did it feel to be selected to play on that team, in this event?
A: It was awesome, just because as a hockey player you grow up and around Christmas time, when you are with your family on the Holidays, that’s the one tournament that every one gathers around the TV and watches every year. My tournament was in Finland so the majority of my family was watching from home, celebrating Christmas and I was not there but the tournament was a lot of fun.
Q: How was it to spend Christmas with the team in Finland?
A: That was fun! We had a big team dinner. We did a team building activity for Christmas. Obviously it’s different because you are not with your family, but we made the most of it, it was a good time. I think we played Canada on the 26th so it was also a get ready for the big game the next day, it was good.
Q: You now find yourself in the same organization as Christian Dvorak, with whom you played in the World Junior. How does it feel, at this moment in your careers, to reconnect, knowing you played together at the beginning of it?
A: So actually, Christian and I grew up playing against each other because he is from a half hour of where I lived, in the Chicago area, so I’ve known him since I was a little kid. It was definitely exciting when I signed here and then he was traded here, like a month after I think it was. It was cool to see a familiar face. Anytime you get to play with someone you played with before, it makes it a little easier. Also, his dad and my dad are friends so we have been connected for a long time. We actually had never played on the same team growing up, it was always against each other and we went our separate ways. Juniors he went to the OHL and I played in College and now, we have found our way back here.
Q: Do you think your participation in the tournament helped you start your pro career?
A: That’s probably the premier tournament, every country’s best. It’s super competitive, it’s a lot of fun, you are in a different country. It’s a good benchmark of where you stand versus the other top talents in the world from your age group. I guess you get a good judge of where you are personally and as a team. It was definitely a lot of fun; I’ll never forget it. I was talking to my dad about it recently, about how fun it was. Every year it brings out memories and it’s an exciting time.
Q: When you look at that team roster, seeing where everybody is today, how do feel knowing you were part of that team?
A: We had a ton of great players on our team and played against a bunch of great players, a lot of them are in the NHL, the AHL, etc. It’s exciting to see everyone’s progress. A lot of guys are making big names for themselves in hockey, it as definitely cool and we won bronze so it was cool to win with that group, obviously not gold. But we still had something to share and to talk about, it was special.
Q: How did it feel to win bronze at the moment?
A: It was bitter-sweet at the moment. We played against Russia, and we outshouted them by a ton but ended up loosing 2-1 in the semi-finals. It was kind of tough at the time. Obviously you have to wake up the next day and you are not playing for gold, but still playing for something. We took the next game seriously and I think we won 7-3 (It was 8-3) against Sweden for the bronze. It’s not something you prepare for (losing in the semi-finals), but it was still special out there with the medal, and winning the last game. It was a special experience overall. It was not what we went there for, but still better than nothing I guess.