Schremp chafing on bench

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:08 PM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Dan Fritsche knows how Rob Schremp feels right now. Fritsche went through this last year with the U.S. team at the world junior hockey championship -- sitting on the bench after spending the first 2 1/2 months of the season in the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Schremp came to the 2005 world juniors leading the OHL in goals with 26, and power-play goals with 15, while sitting third overall with 51 points for the London Knights.

But here he's the 13th forward.

Saturday night, in the defending champions' opener against Russia, Schremp got two shifts, both on power plays, and scored on his first at 3:15 of the second period.

The U.S. won 5-4 with Fritsche, of the Sarnia Sting, scoring twice. It was a huge victory for the Americans as Russia is likely their toughest opponent in the round-robin, where a first-place finish will mean a bye to the semifinals.

But Schremp, like any player his calibre, wants to play a role and it's easy to see he's not pleased.

"It's tough when you're not on a line, so I'm just filling in on different drills," he said after yesterday's practice.

"It's an honour to be here, but it's tough not playing much. But it's happened before (benched by Knights coach Dale Hunter during last season's Western Conference final), so I know how to deal with it.

"All I can do is work hard in practice and hopefully take advantage of my opportunities. The coaches know what it takes to get there (the championship), so I just trust their leadership and hopefully they're doing the right thing."

Schremp was among the final 10 players the U.S. named to its roster, but even then apparently there was much debate within USA Hockey over his inclusion.

U.S. head coach Scott Sandelin, with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, is using Chris Bourque, son of former NHLer Ray Bourque, ahead of Schremp on the power play and Bourque has only three goals at Boston University.

"Coming in here we felt Robbie could be a power-play guy for us and right now that's kind of his role," Sandelin said. 'That certainly could change throughout the tournament, but right now he's going to be on that power play and hopefully he's going to keep contributing.

"It's only the first game. It's a long tournament. He's got to continue to stay focused on what he needs to do. Like every player, they want to play, but every guy has a role and right now he has to accept that, as do other players.

"That role can change as the tournament goes on. We brought him here because we know he's a special player on the power play. He'll get his opportunities."

Fritsche was in a similar situation last season, playing on the fourth at the beginning, then his ice time increased.

"Everyone knows Robbie is a heck of a great player and I think as the tournament goes on he'll see a little more ice time, but that's up to the coaches," Fritsche said.

"He understands he's going to get his shot and he's being great about it right now. He goes out there there and pops a goal on his first shift.

"He's a really good kid and we're going to need him in this tournament. Last year, using me as an example, I came right from the NHL and I thought I was going to have a big role on the team, but that didn't really happen.

"With Robbie leading the OHL in goals, he would think and everyone would think he'd have a much bigger role.

"Last year I knew I just had to do whatever I could and I didn't want to cause any chaos. You just do what you're told.

"Right now Robbie's being a good sport about it. He's not saying much."


Videos

Photos