CRYSTAL LAKE – The fact that Tory Dello was selected to last year's USA Hockey U-17 team gave him some confidence heading into this year's selection process.
As the former Crystal Lake Central student waited for his name to be announced on Wednesday, he could not help but admit that nerves were present.
"It's nearly impossible to not have nerves while waiting," Dello said. "But once your name is called, it is such a relief, and I really can't think of a bigger honor than representing your country in the sport you love to play."
Dello was one of seven defensemen selected to repesent the United States, as part of the under-18 team, in the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament from Aug. 11-16 in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia.
Dello explained that the numbers and skill level were much higher this year compared to last, but knew that the time and preparation he had put into his game made him a prime target for selection.
There were a total of 180 players that originally reported to U-18 training camp, which was cut to 40 for an all-star game. From there, Dello was selected among 20 players, one of three from Illinois, to compete next month.
"It was definitely a tougher squad," Dello said. "With that, though, comes a great squad being selected. I'm proud to be a part of a team that really has a chance to do something special over there."
The game of hockey overseas presents some challenges for United States players, and Dello discussed that his play doesn't necessarily change that much but his awareness has to be at an all-time high on the ice.
He said he can use his abilities to his advantage, describing himself as a smart hockey player. Dello knows that every move he makes could be one that affects the outcome of the game.
Defenseman don't always get credit for what they bring to the game, but Dello knows that he has one job during the tournament, and will do anything to get that job done.
"The skill is really strong over there," Dello said. "I have to use my hockey IQ and be a tactically smart player and make the simple plays. Defenseman get themselves in trouble when they try to overthink things and I want to make sure I keep things simple when I'm on the ice."
"The ice is longer and wider which presents a challenge that we are not used to everyday," Dello explained. "I don't change my game that much, but need to realize and keep my positioning."
The team will reconvene on Aug. 3 in Washington, D.C., to train for three days before heading to Trnava, Slovakia. While training, the team will use the Washington Capitals' practice facilities.
Unired States will participate as part of Group A, along with Finland, Czech Republic and Russia. All games will take place in Breclav. There is one exhibition game scheduled for Aug. 9 against Slovakia, before the tournament schedule begins on Aug. 11 against Czech Republic.
"I could not think of a bigger thrill right now," Dello said. "We have a tough, physical team that has one goal in mind and we believe that we can achieve it. Not one person heading overseas next month has any doubt that we can bring back gold."