World spotlight turns on Schremp

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

He's been tagged as one of the Top 10 players to watch at the 2006 world junior hockey championship this year.

Rob Schremp of the London Knights has never shied away when it comes for an opportunity of being one to watch. He loves the spotlight. He's good enough to flourish in it and been in it enough to know how to handle it.

But finding himself in the same group as players such as American Phil Kessel, Czech Michael Frolik, Russian Evgeni Malkin and others, isn't what this tournament is all about for Schremp.

It's about a gold medal.

Schremp is one of the key members of the United States junior national team, a team that's going to Vancouver as one of the favourites to win the gold medal.

It's Schremp's second world junior. Last year in Grand Forks, Schremp was part of a disappointing U.S. team that finished out of the medals. Schremp was on the bubble when it came to selection last year and didn't see a lot of ice time until later in the tournament.

This year, Schremp, who almost made the National Hockey League Edmonton Oilers out of training camp, is tearing up the Ontario Hockey League offensively and will see plenty of ice.

"Last year was last year," Schremp said. "Sure, I would have liked to have played more than just on the power play for the first three games, but there's a lot of good players on the team. Last year was the best tournament for me because I learned a lot.

"This is not about Rob Schremp. This is about winning. I don't care if I don't get a lot of ice time here, because there are 20 guys who can get the job done."

Schremp said this year feels different from last year. He's going into the tournament knowing a lot more than he did last year and knowing what to expect. If there is one thing that stands out for Schremp, it's the speed of the game.

"It's really quick, really wide open," he said from Victoria where the U.S. team is training. "We have a lot of guys from the college game who can really skate. What's helped me is all of the ice time I'm getting with the Knights. I feel I can keep up to them and that the game is coming to me.

"I feel like I have more time to make a play, that I still have time to be creative. I feel I can be a little more patient this year."

Since the U.S. team is named and doesn't have to go through a selection camp, the few days before the tournament begins on Boxing Day will be used to figure out line combinations. Schremp has been playing with Owen Sound forward Bobby Ryan and University of Michigan's Kevin Porter.

"So far, so good. Things have worked out," Schremp said.

Canada and the United States are in the same pool. There is a Dec. 31 meeting scheduled between the two nations, which means Schremp will play against teammate David Bolland.

"There are a lot of good teams in this tournament," Schremp said. "All that matters is who wins in the end."


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