FALMOUTH, Maine -- I got my first look at Sabres prospect Nathan Gerbe today at Team USA training camp (the Boston College junior recently was added to the world championship team). My first impression was the same one everyone gets when they see him on the ice: Man, that guy is small. The 5-foot-5 forward was standing next to 6-3 teammate David Backes, and the top of Gerbe's helmet was even with Backes' shoulder pads.
But, as we all know, first impressions can soon get overshadowed. The height disparity isn't what I'll remember about today's practice. What I'll recall is how long Gerbe stayed on the ice. Most of the team was in the dressing room and out of uniform, yet there was Gerbe, standing in front of the net with a crate full of pucks, firing them over and over. He ended up being the third-last player to call it a day. (For the record, the final player off the ice was West Seneca's Lee Stempniak, whom I'll be writing about in Saturday's paper.)
Gerbe has had a whirlwind month -- Hobey Baker runner-up, national champion, Frozen Four MVP -- and now he's playing with some of the country's best professionals. He's eager to see how he stacks up.
"It's been a special year, so I'm really thankful to be part of this team here," Gerbe said. "It's a good group of guys to be skating with to kind of get to compare yourself with. It's like a measuring stick to see where you stand at the pro level. It's definitely an honor, especially to represent your country. I can't complain about the year so far.
"It's quick. The guys move the puck fast. It's a lot different than college, so definitely a little getting used to. But it's been a good transition so far. The guys obviously help me out, giving me pointers here and there, things I can do better."
As he's already shown, he's willing to work to get better.
taggedWorld Junior Championships