When Jordan Schroeder joined Colin Wilson and James van Riemsdyk on a line in the 2007 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, it was equal parts speed, grit and scoring touch coming together to create a formidable trio.
That line displayed such chemistry that it was impossible to break them apart for the 2008 and 2009 IIHF World Under-20 Championships.
The move paid off as over that span of 19 games, the line produced a staggering 90 points on 38 goals and 52 assists.
“We’ve been on some pretty big stages,” said van Riemsdyk, whose overtime goal against the Czech Republic sealed the U.S. Team’s fifth-place finish. “Chemistry and skill- wise this is probably the best line I’ve been on. You can’t ask to play with two better guys than those two.”
Heading in to the 2009 World Juniors in Ottawa, Ontario, U.S. Head Coach Ron Rolston said the choice was easy when it came to picking which players would make up his top line.
“It’s hard to develop chemistry in such a short tournament, and they already had chemistry,” Rolston said.
After the success the trio enjoyed in 2007 and 2008, Wilson was looking forward to reuniting with his linemates once again.
“It’s the best chemistry I’ve had on a line,” said Wilson, who finished the tournament with nine points in six games. “When the team was picked I was saying ‘I hope they put Riems, me and Schroeds together.’ ”
Rolston didn’t have to wonder long whether he’d made the right choice as he watched the reunited line combine for four goals in Team USA’s tournament opening 8-2 win over Germany on Dec. 26.
Wilson, van Riemsdyk and Schroeder didn’t stop there, teaming up for five goals in victories over the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan. As Team USA fought through losses to Canada and Slovakia in the quarterfinals, and clinched fifth place against the Czech Republic, Rolston continued to rely on his top line.
“They all offer a different ingredient,” he said. “They complement each other very well.”
Schroeder said the elements seem to click when the three are on the ice.
“We all bring different things to the table and it meshes perfectly,” said Schroeder, who led the U.S. Team with 11 points.
Rolston said Wilson brings the physical presence that clears time and space for his linemates.
To me chemistry is knowing where each other are on the ice … Not just for one game, but two or three and keeping on going and getting scoring chances.
– Jordan Schroeder
“Colin Wilson is a complete player,” Rolston said. “He’s a warrior, he’s all over pucks and he battles. He can make plays and score goals, so he has a lot of elements to his game.”
Wilson’s efforts free up Schroeder, who Rolston said makes opponents pay with great playmaking.
“Jordan’s quick, he has great speed. He has excellent poise with the puck and great vision and the ability to set guys up and make plays for guys on his line,” Rolston said.
The final element, van Riemsdyk, leaves defensemen spinning because while they focused on Wilson and Schroeder, van Riemsdyk lurked at the front of the net waiting to strike.
“He’s another goal scorer that doesn’t need a whole lot of time on the puck,” Rolston said. “A brief second on his tape and it’s on the net and either in or the goalie has to make a save on it.”
The success on the ice has also created some strong friendships as the three future stars stay in touch through their respective NCAA seasons. That could mean a text message, phone call or a meeting on the ice.
Schroeder said he looks forward to facing off against his linemates in NCAA action, such as when his Minnesota Gophers met van Riemsdyk’s New Hampshire Wildcats earlier this season.
“It was kind of fun seeing Riemer there, and we went out for a bite to eat after one of the games,” said the Gophers freshman.
Another common bond is the potential for Schroeder to join van Riemsdyk, No. 2 overall, and Wilson, No. 7 overall, as a top-10 NHL draft pick later this year.
“Schroeds is going to go in the top-5 in the draft, so I’ll be the odd man out at No. 7,” joked Wilson, a 2008 draft pick of the Nashville Predators.
vs. Finland (2008)
When the 2009 World Junior tournament closed, so did the three-year run the line enjoyed. However, Rolston said any future U.S. National Team coach would do well to recapture that magic somewhere down the line.
“I would think because of the ingredients they have and how well they play together and complement each other, you could put them together and have a lot of success, but it’s hard to tell where they’ll go in their careers,” Rolston said.
Wilson said the way each player develops will have an affect on the chemistry but the basic formula will always be there.
“Down the road if Riemer or Schroeder and I were on a line together it would still be the same way,” he said.