By JACK VANASSCHE, Sports Editor
Over a month after learning of their selection to Team USA, University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey players Ryan Urso and Tyler Groat will be heading out for Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday to participate in the 2017 World University Games.
Urso, the captain of the Wolverines, immediately thought of his team when asked about his future trip across the globe.
“It’s tough to leave when we’re on this kind of streak,” he said in reference to UM-Dearborn’s recent stretch of 10 straight wins. “But the guys in that locker room are confident and they’ll play through it.”
Groat said his plans for the next few days includes plenty of rest to combat the effects of the time difference.
It will be difficult to take enough naps to offset the effects of the 11-hour time difference between Detroit and Almaty. Almaty is nearly half of a day ahead of both players’ native Eastern Standard Time.
“It’ll be a long road,” said Urso, “but when we get there we have to start practicing for the games.
“It’ll be good to get out there, get some rest and get ready for the tournament.”
Wednesday, the two will fly out to Chicago where they will meet up with the rest of Team USA. After spending a night in Chicago, the team will fly to Germany and then connect to Kazakhstan.
The flight from Chicago to Germany alone is an estimated 13 hours.
“(I’ve) flown plenty of times for hockey, but nothing like this,” Urso said amid a laugh. “I gotta find something to do on that plane for 10-plus hours.”
Upon their arrival in Almaty, the team will settle in at their rooms in Athlete’s Village.
The village was constructed specifically for the event, similar to an Olympic setting. It has a reported capacity of 5,000 people, while the games are expecting roughly 2,000 athletes.
For Urso, the trip will be an adventure where he will learn on the fly.
“(I’m) kind of going in blind. I didn’t gather lots of details,” he said. “Hopefully there’s some good food I like there– I’m kind of a picky eater so hopefully they’ve got some good stuff there.”
Team USA will hit the ground running in Kazakhstan to prepare for their tournament opener on Monday against Team Canada at 12:30 p.m. local time (1:30 a.m. EST).
“I’m sure I’ll get to meet lots of new people,” Groat said. “I’m sure we’ll be doing a lot with the team when we get there to try and gel before our first game.”
Following their matchup with Canada, Team USA will face off against Slovakia next Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. (5 a.m. EST) and Great Britain on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 12:30 p.m. (1:30 EST).
Team USA’s games can be streamed live from www.livefisu.tv/home.