There's no better feeling for a college athlete than getting to put on their school's jersey and compete with those colors. Except maybe getting to put on their country's jersey and compete with those colors.
"When you put on that USA logo, it speaks volumes about you're there to do and what you're there to represent," forward Ryan Belonger said. "It motivates you to work that much more to work even harder and really represent yourself in a good way."
Six Sun Devils went to Granada, Spain for two weeks to play for Team USA in the World University games. Joining Belonger were defensemen Connor Schmidt and Ed McGovern and forwards Sean Murphy and Chris Burkemper. Defenseman Jordan Young was named captain of Team USA.
Team USA went 3-2-1 plus a an exhibition win against Spain, losing to Canada in the quarterfinals and placing seventh in the event.
The team didn't return without getting banged up, though. Belonger ran into a bit of tough luck, blocking a shot in the the first period of the first game of the tournament and the puck hit his knuckle, breaking it. He missed the rest of the tournament and will be out for this weekend's regular season finale against Arizona.
"They asked me, ‘take your jersey off, we need to look at this,' and I didn't want to take my jersey off because I knew I wasn't putting it back on again," Belonger said. "It was just a bummer thinking about that."
The six Sun Devils representing Team USA were the most players from one school in World University Games history. Murphy had two goals and three assist, McGovern had two goals and Young had three assists.
But it was Schmidt who tied for the team lead in points with two goals and nine assists for 11 points in the seven games overall. He paired with McGovern, adding that level of comfort to his game and paired with Young on the power play.
"It was just a great experience overall, especially being with the other five from Arizona State University, and I had a lot of fun," Schmidt said.
The six players return for this weekend's series in Tucson, and all except for Belonger are expected to play against the Wildcats.