Photo by Rena Laverty
One of the best moments of USA Hockey National Team Development Program forward Jake Wise’s career wasn’t a goal — it was an assist.
Wise had the helper on the game-winning goal by his Under-18 linemate Tyler Weiss in a 5-4 come-from behind victory against Russia on Feb. 16 in their penultimate game of the Under-18 Five Nations. The goal touched off a massive celebration.
“The Russia game was definitely my favorite game,” said Wise. “The game had a little bit of everything. We went down 3-0 early to Russia and then, we started to come back and finally pulled it into one before tying the game.
“When Tyler scored the game winner [with 1:26 left in the third], it set off a celebration and we all skated down towards Drew [DeRidder, U18 goalie] at the other end of the ice. USA-Russia is such a huge rivalry and to be able to come back and win was incredible.”
The Five Nations was made even more special as the tournament was played at USA Hockey Arena on home ice.
“It was unbelievable,” said Wise. “It was our second international tournament win but this time, instead of backing into the title, we won it outright [the U18s went on to beat Finland, 4-0]. It was a very special moment for us to see the people out supporting us and cheering for us when we got the win.”
For Wise, in many ways it was redemption of sorts after missing almost three months the first half of this season due to injury. It was difficult at times for him but he found a way for it to make a positive impact.
“I had to look and put a positive spin on my injury,” said Wise, who returned to the lineup against the University of North Dakota on Dec. 30. “I definitely had the support of my teammates. I would come to the rink with a good attitude and do whatever I was able to do to stay in shape. It was a difficult couple months but I continued to work and was able to watch the team.”
It’s a huge reason why he appreciates just how special it is to wear the colors of his country.
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“It’s an honor, especially when you are playing in international tournaments against other countries,” said Wise. “You are not just representing yourself — you are representing the USA. It’s an honor for everyone and such a special experience.”
For Wise, a 5-foot-10, 189-pound forward, has seen a big difference on the ice from his first season with the red, white and blue. He says it’s really a simple formula for the team success.
“For myself, I am playing with more confidence this year,” Wise said. “As a team, since we have been winning, we have an upbeat attitude this year. The spring training played a huge part of this, as it does for every NTDP team. We were able to get bigger, faster and stronger. It really helped prepare us for this year.”
You are not just representing yourself — you are representing the USA.
Wise and his U18 teammates have a busy month ahead of them, including five straight homes games against USHL opponents to end the month of March before getting ready to head to the Under-18 World Championship in Russia this April.
“We need to do what we have been doing,” said Wise on the strategy for team success. “We have to trust the training and not take it lightly. We need to stay together.
“Coach [Seth] Appert told us it is important to play as a team and not be selfish. In some of the games we lost, we got selfish and it is really important for us to carry the torch and play as a team.”
The Reading, Massachusetts, native will take his talents to Boston University next year to continue his hockey career. His hometown school was a natural fit. Plus, it helped that he has a few current teammates — Jack DeBoer, Joel Farabee and Weiss — who will join him.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“I love Boston; it’s my favorite city,” said Wise. “The coaching staff, especially Coach [David] Quinn is awesome. He is one of my favorite people. He is upbeat, loves hockey and really understands the game. It’s going to be a great experience next year.
“It is going to be huge to have the guys there. I will know my roommate already and it will be good to have that bond with the guys that were here at the NTDP with me.”
Due to inclement weather, the U18s had to cancel their game at BU on Jan. 5. It was a game that Wise was very much looking forward to as his hometown is about 15 minutes from BU’s campus. However, he’ll get his chance soon enough.
“I’m so excited to be around my family, especially after being gone the past two years,” said Wise on being closer to home. “I’ll be able to see my friends and go see them. Plus, they will be able to watch me play.”
For now, Wise is focused on the here and now, finishing his U18 season strong with a special group of teammates and making more memories.
“I definitely have a bond with my teammates and I’ll never forget them. It’s so cool that we get to see each other every day. We are so close and we really have bonded together,” he said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.