Oakland’s Balent Representing Team USA, Prepares to Depart For Italy
Sunday, 12.01.2013 / 8:06 PM / OU Hockey Insider
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Rochester, MI- As Oakland Hockey forward Billy Balent, prepares to depart for Italy with Team USA this week for the World University Games he knows what an honor it is to represent his country.
Balent joins former Grizzlies Jarrett Samp, Jacob Desano and Kevin Kranker, who represented Oakland on Team USA.
The process to become a member of Team USA started when Balent, filled out a form to express interest in the team at the beginning of last season.
“I got a call last summer saying I was one of the guys they are going to look at.” Balent said.
Oakland head coach Gordie Schaeffler’s support has been key for Balent throughout the process.
“At the beginning of the year he was real excited that I was in the hunt.” Balent stated.
“I kept asking him (for updates) and he had not heard anything and finally when I found out (making the team) he was real excited for me and real supportive. He is excited that I get this opportunity”
Balent’s phone conversation with Team USA head coach Scott Balboni was brief with coach Balboni making sure Balent takes care of his business with school and the Grizzlies hockey team first.
“We spoke briefly.” Balent said. “He wanted to congratulate me and tell me that I made it.”
“He (Balboni) was really adamant to stay loyal to school work and to the team you are playing for right now.”
In his third season with the Grizzlies, Balent realizes that the staff at Oakland, current and former, have made his dream of playing for Team USA possible.
“Throughout the past three years that I have been at Oakland coach Gordie (Schaeffler) Nick Tomczyk (Former Oakland associate head coach), (Jeremy) Bachusz (former Oakland head coach) and you (Corey Hagood) have all been have been real supportive, and helped me enjoy the game again and let me get to this point.” Balent added.
Balent talked to both Desano and Kranker about what to expect at the World University Games.
“Both Desano and Kranker contacted me.” Balent stated.
“They wanted to congratulate me, they were excited and they told me that it would be one of the best experiences of my life.”
“They said they had a ton of fun, it was really good hockey and all the teams are really skilled.” Balent added
Balent says it means the world to him being able to put on the USA sweater and represent his country.
“It’s an honor.” Balent said. “I have always watched the Olympics and the World Juniors and just wanted to wear the Team USA sweater and represent my country and do what I can to help win some hockey games.”
Balent credits everyone he has had the chance to play with at Oakland as people who helped him get to this point.
“In order to be a better player you need to have teammates around you who make you love the game.” Balent added.
“Every teammate since I have been here (at Oakland) the guys are so close, it makes you want to come to the rink and work hard because they are working hard and you know you’re going to have a few laughs when you come to the rink”
Balent says “I know of few of these guys (Team USA teammates) pretty well” as has previously played with Nick Taurence, Steve Brancheau, Phil Wendecker and Phil Graveline.
We will post updates on Balent’s progress on facebook.com/OUHockey and Twitter.com/OaklandHockey
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