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Chase Yoder Treasures His Memories From NTDP Experience

By Becky Olsen, 04/28/20, 12:00PM EDT


Providence College awaits the forward next season

Photo by Rena Laverty

This is not the spring that USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 forward Chase Yoder expected to be having. Instead of playing hockey, he is home and having to find other things to do to stay busy without the game that he loves.

“I’ve been working out, lifting weights and shooting pucks in my basement. I’m trying to do things to stay in shape,” Yoder said.

He had planned to spend most of April dressing for Team USA, chasing after a gold medal at the Under-18 World Championships, which was supposed to be on home ice. It was a tough pill to swallow for Yoder when he found out on a bus trip to Omaha, Nebraska, that the rest of the season was going to be canceled. It was even more disheartening for him after all the strides the team made over the course of his time with the program.

“It really stunk,” Yoder said. “We wanted to prove ourselves. We felt that we had a lot to prove on the world stage. It made us realize that you can’t take anything for granted. You just do not know when your last game will be.”

With that in mind, it’s no wonder Yoder realizes how special it has been to wear the colors of his country each and every day.

“It was such an honor to wear the jersey,” said Yoder. “It really shows all the hard work that you put in to be one of the top 20 players in your birth year. You get to represent your country and honor all the special people who have worn the colors before you, especially the troops.”

Even though he didn’t get to play on that final world stage, he still leaves the NTDP with some great memories.

“Traveling with my teammates and going to international tournaments,” said Yoder. “It is fun to be together on the road. It creates good bonding time for our team, especially away from the rink and our busy schedules.

Photo by Rena Laverty

“Winning the tournament in Sweden was probably one of my biggest highlights. It was so special for us and it really showed how far we had come, finishing last place in our first tournament in our Under-17 year to a first place showing in that first tournament in our U18 year. It really showed our growth as a team.”

The 5-foot-11, 174-pound forward saw his game evolve from his U17 to his U18 year. He finished his NTDP career with 19 goals and 38 points in 102 games, but he credits the coaching staff for helping with his growth.

Photo by Rena Laverty

“I think I got better on the offensive end and I developed more of a 200-foot game,” explained Yoder. “Coach [Seth] Appert spoke to me in my U17 year about playing a full 200-foot game. I could see the importance of this in becoming the player that I wanted to become. I watched video of Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli. It really made me realize how much I need to do to get to this next level.”

As part of that growth, the Fairview, Texas, native even had an opportunity to play against his future college team — the Providence Friars — at Schneider Arena on Oct. 12. Despite the U18s dropping a 2-1 overtime decision, he was appreciative to be able to face-off against the Friars and get the experience playing all the other college games this season that will help him in the future.

“It was super fun, especially to play in front of my future teammates and coaches,” said Yoder. “I was definitely motivated to play well. It was such a fun atmosphere to play in. It was just so cool to be able to skate out to the blue line and hear my name as a starter. It is something that I will not forget.

“Playing college games is going to make me more confident next year. After already playing half of a college schedule, I think I have a better understanding of what is expected of me.”

At the end of the day, picking Providence to continue his hockey career was an easy decision for Yoder.

“I was looking for a smaller school and I felt very comfortable there, he said. “I grew up in a small town so that is something that was important to me. I really liked the coaching staff and the program has a winning history. I’m excited to go there in the fall.”

The other big moment from this season for Yoder was playing in the 2020 BioSteel All-American Game on Jan. 20 at USA Hockey Arena. Playing for Team [Mike] Knuble, the U18s posted a 6-1 win in the event in front of fans and NHL scouts.

Photo by Rena Laverty

“It was a super cool experience,” said Yoder, who posted one assist in the contest. “They did a great job with the game and all the things that went into it beforehand. It’s definitely something that I will remember.

“As a team, we wanted to play for each other and not just for [ourselves]. We were playing for the name on the front of our jersey and that is really how we approached the game. I think that it really showed in how focused we were and knowing the task that had to get done.”

Yoder’s time in Plymouth may be over, but he looks forward to hopefully having another opportunity to wear the USA jersey again.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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