Photo by Rena Laverty
It’s an exciting week for U.S. National Team Development Program forward Josh Norris. He’ll be stepping onto the big stage in more ways than one.
Not only does he get a chance to play in the 2016 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 22, but taking the ice at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia will be a brand-new experience.
“First off, I have never played in a National Hockey League rink so it will be my first time,” said Norris. “I’m sure that will be a cool experience. It’s definitely special. You get to play against the top 42 Americans in the country. For me personally, I got to watch a lot of my buddies play in it last year. It will definitely be a cool experience to be where they were last year.
“From the game side, you try not to worry about it — rather you just go out and play your game. It’s a game where you want to showcase your skills and have some fun.”
The Oxford, Michigan native will play for Team Mark Howe. As a metro Detroit product, he will play for a coach whose last name is obviously legendary for Red Wings fans.
“It’s huge. Obviously Gordie [Howe] is a legend in Detroit and around the hockey world. Even with his passing, it’s always in the back of Detroit people’s minds. For his son to coach our team, it will be a cool experience,” Norris said.
In his second year with the NTDP, Norris is already seeing a big difference from his U17 season. There is one thing that stands out and that is his confidence on the ice.
“The U17 year, you get the puck and it’s kind of like chuck-a-puck. You don’t do it on purpose; rather it’s your first instinct,” he said. “Having a year under my belt, and I feel I can say this for all our guys, you have more confidence and feel as if you can make more plays.”
After tallying 14 goals and 27 points in 44 contests last year, he already has two goals and four points in the first four games this season. He credits the NTDP for his success in many different ways.
“I came in here last year at 181 pounds,” he said. “I weighed in at 192 pounds and gained about 8 or 9 pounds of muscle within the first year. That was a big improvement for myself.
“There are so many areas this place gives you to grown on. Leadership comes to mind. There are so many great players on this team and every day, they push you to be better. I think that pushes you to want to become better. At the end of the day, I think it will be good for all of us.”
Norris and his teammates are also adjusting to a new head coach. John Wroblewski played for the NTDP in its first two seasons on the ice (1997-99) and served as an assistant coach from 2007-10. Norris says there are little things he brings to the rink.
“He has brought fire, passion and energy,” explained Norris. That is something that former Coach [Don] Granato definitely brought to us. For us to have a coach that brings that to us is still huge. I think we will definitely need that this year. It will be a good spark for us.
“Last year, the practices were intense. But, this year, the practices are even more intense since it’s our U18 year. You want to win every battle and be your best in every practice. We need to have that compete level every day. It is something I love about this place.”
Of course, there is one date circled on his calendar and that is Nov. 18. It is when Norris and his U18 teammates will play at the University of Michigan — his future college team.
“It’s huge,” he explained. “I committed to U-M when I was pretty young. To be able to play against them was something that I never would have considered before I came here. I would have thought that I would be playing for them first.
“One of my best friends, Will Lockwood, is on the team. We share a lot of great memories. I’m excited to play against him and see what they bring.”
It was an easy decision to become a Wolverine for Norris.
“That’s a tough question since every school is great for a person in its own way. That is probably what made me want to go there,” he stated. “It’s a welcoming atmosphere and you want to be there. Plus, the coaches, the history, the academics, the atmosphere of Yost Ice Arena there are so many attributes that are great about it.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo by Rena Laverty
Favorite U.S. Player
Favorite TV Show
Florida Georgia Line
Favorite Home-Cooked Meal
Tag(s): Game Details