Robbie Schremp didn't have a precious medal to declare when he cleared Canadian customs yesterday on his way back to the London Knights, but the Edmonton Oilers' first-round draft pick didn't leave the World Junior Hockey Championship in North Dakota empty-handed.
Schremp, shut out of the medals with Team U.S. in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Czech Republic on Tuesday, in the warm-up to Team Canada's 6-1 waltz past the Russians for the gold medal, says he'll take the experience and use it to his advantage for the rest of the OHL season.
"It sucks, losing bronze. But this will help me," Schremp told the London Free Press. "The speed of this hockey makes you a better player.
"These are the best juniors in the world, so it makes you a better player and I'll bring that back to the OHL. Losing is tough. I'll get focused."
FOUR GOALS AND AN ASSIST
Schremp, 18, selected 25th overall by the Oilers in the entry draft last June, scored four goals, including the winner in a 6-4 decision over Switzerland, and added an assist in seven games at the WJC.
"He worked his way up to the third line and a lot of power-play time from being the extra forward," said Oilers' chief scout Kevin Prendergast, who took in Tuesday's bronze and gold games at Ralph Engelstad Arena with GM Kevin Lowe, assistant GM Scott Howson and president Patrick LaForge.
"He earned his ice time. He ended up playing out of position, but we thought he got better as the tournament went on. I thought he played very well."
A centre by trade, Schremp was used sparingly early in the tournament. He was slotted in on left wing on a line with Jake Dowell and Ryan Callahan against the Czechs.
"I was used well," Schremp said. "I took my opportunities and did what I did with them. I was happy just to be here and then to get ice time the last couple of games. It was a great opportunity for me."
FIFTH IN OHL SCORING
With the Knights off to a 32-2-2 start and hosting the Memorial Cup, Schremp returns to London looking to pick up where he left off. While he lost the OHL goal-scoring lead to Geoff Platt of Erie while attending the tournament, he sits fifth in league scoring with 26-25-51 in 31 games.
"There's still parts of his game he has to work on," Prendergast said. "His skating has to get a bit stronger.
"Offensively, he's been fantastic. He's playing in a winning situation in London and he's in a position to have a helluva year if he keeps going in the direction he's headed right now."
Schremp is eligible to play in the WJC next year in Vancouver.