|Kevin Gravel (photo: Cikiri)|
Since the inception of MayorsManor, all articles and updates have been written by me. Sure, we’ve done countless interviews with players, coaches and other hockey people – yet, the content was always prepared by me.
We’ve also had the Kings’ Jim Fox serve as our unofficial playoff reporter the last few seasons, providing his thoughts from the road when the team was away from Staples Center.
And yes, we’ve had guys like Jake Muzzin and Andrei Loktionov serve as as our Manchester correspondents, feeding us the latest Monarchs news.
Today, however, we enter a new phase at MayorsManor. For the first time ever, we have a guest author.
Kevin Gravel, selected by the Kings at the 2010 NHL Draft, has been on the site several times over the last year. This time is different though. He was kind enough to offer his perspective on what he experienced at this week’s Team USA evaluation camp for the upcoming World Junior tournament.
In his own words, here’s Gravel…
“Any time you get a chance to put on the USA jersey it is an opportunity you don’t take for granted. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to represent my country in a few prior tournaments and I was looking forward to having a chance to do that again. When I finally got out to Lake Placid for the evaluation camp I was ready to get everything going.
The morning of the first day, we had our only practice – and it was a pretty tough practice. However, it allowed us get our feet wet for the games that were about to follow.
The first game two games of the camp we played inter-squad scrimmages. I was on Team Blue with Nick Shore, which put us up against (fellow Kings prospects) Derek Forbort and Michael Mersch.
Having the opportunity to play those first two games against some of the best players in the country, our age, was a great honor. Obviously, everyone out there was fighting for one of the 22 spots available for this team. So, the two games were very fast paced and fun to play in.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to watch Forbort or Mersch too much, playing on a team with Shore is always fun. He thinks and sees the game very well; you always know you are going to get a good performance out of him. Our team won the first game, with Team White getting the better of us on day two.
The third game of camp put us up against Sweden, in another high tempo game. We were fortunate enough to catch the better of the Swedes in a 4-3 overtime win.
After the three games it was decision time for the coaches. In the end, they ended up sending me home early from camp, which is obviously disappointing. But, looking back on the camp, I’m very happy with how I played.
The coaching staff let me know what they expected out of me before camp and I feel like I lived up to those expectations. After the three games, I was able to hold my head up because I felt like I left it all on the ice. The camp was also a great way to get my confidence up, seeing that I fit right in with the best players in the nation.
After being let go, a shuttle was scheduled to bring us to the airport at 8:30 Tuesday morning, I was scheduled to be home by about 10:30 that night, but things did not go as planned.
The drive from Lake Placed to Albany, where we flew out of, is about two and a half hours. So, I was at the airport at about 11 or 11:30 am, which is pretty early for a 4:30 pm flight home.
I was supposed to have a connecting flight at 8pm in Detroit, to bring me to Green Bay, so I could make the two hour drive home.
However, while sitting at my gate, for what seemed like forever waiting for 4:30 to roll around, I noticed that our flight was being delayed. At first, it was only an hour delay. So, I was still in good shape for my connecting flight. Before I knew it though, it was 8:30 and I was still in the Albany airport!
Finally, I arrived in Detroit’s airport about 10:30 pm, missing every flight to Green Bay. I was then scheduled to fly out at 9am the next morning, thus giving me a night to kill in Detroit Metro.
That night was spent with zero sleep and plenty of bonding time with my gate, and basically every other part of the airport. Finally, after watching the sunrise, 9am rolled around and I was finally able to make it home.
Other then the travel back home, the camp was a great experience and an honor to be a part of. Although it is very disappointing being let go early, it leaves me more excited to get the year going in St. Cloud.
Hopefully the first half goes well and maybe I can earn an invite to the December camp.”
We hope so too. And look forward to another journal entry if it happens. Thanks, Kevin.
Ironically, the travel part of this story sounds very similar to what Kyle Clifford experienced at last summer’s camp with Team Canada (linked below).
Exclusive Interview: Michael Mersch on his experience at Team USA camp
Forbort, Shore stay – Gravel, Mersch cut at USA WJC eval camp
NCAA coach on Kings prospects – Kevin Gravel, Derek Forbort, Nick Shore
Warming up for the World Juniors – Kyle Clifford at Team Canada camp
Nieto, Charlie Coyle – Team USA eval camp, summer 2010
All three Kings prospects earn medals at 2011 World Junior Championship