GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Detroit Red Wings want their prospects to get used to playing professional hockey and get used to winning.
While the Wings and Griffins are both in last place in their respective divisions, players are still finding ways to experience the thrill of high-level victories.
First round draft picks Joe Veleno and Moritz Seider just got done competing in the IIHF World Junior Championship. Seider was named captain of Germany's U20 National Team, while Veleno helped Canada's U20 National Team win the gold medal.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Veleno. "Especially to win a gold medal felt amazing. Just playing with a lot skilled players, it was probably the best tournament I've played in and I had a lot of fun."
Seider, a defenseman the Red Wings drafted 6th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, totaled six points in the tournament. He helped lead Germany to a sixth-place finish and finished second on the team in scoring.
"I was very honored and very proud (to be named captain)," said Seider. "I had the chance to do it last season too, it's always nice to represent your country as a captain."
Veleno, 19, was drafted 30th overall by the Red Wings in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. So far in 29 games with the Griffins this season he's scored five goals and totaled 7 assists. He led team Canada in average time on ice (19:13) and also scored six points in the tournament.
He says the main thing he can take from his time in the Czech Republic is confidence.
"Obviously you feel great about yourself, I mean you just won a gold medal and probably accomplished something not a lot of guys can do. To be able to do that and come play hockey in Grand Rapids is obviously a big step, but bringing a lot of that confidence back here, I feel good about myself."
Seider, 18, led the tournament in average ice time (25:20) as Germany defeated Kazakhstan to avoid relegation. He said that was a main goal of the team.
"We achieved that goal so everyone was happy."
He says playing so many minutes taught him a lesson he plans to take to the AHL.
"You have to prepare every single night. I played a lot of minutes so you have to give your body a rest; I learned that for sure. All in all I'm pretty happy with my performance. I'm always trained for being here and I'm very excited for the next part of the season."
The Griffins begin an eight-game homestand Friday night at 7 p.m. against the Manitoba Moose.
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