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Hockey: Pohlkamp enjoys success playing for US Junior Select Team

Eric Pohlkamp played for the US Junior Select Team in the 2022 World Junior A Challenge in Cornwall, Ontario

Eric Pohlkamp holding a trophy
Brainerd native Eric Pohlkamp, left, holds the trophy with Moorhead native Gavin Lindbergh at the 2022 World Junior A Challenge in Cornwall, Ontario Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.
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BRAINERD — It was a weekend to remember as Eric Pohlkamp represented his country.

The 18-year-old Brainerd native played for the US Junior Select Team in the 2022 World Junior A Challenge in Cornwall, Ontario Dec. 11-18.

Pohlkamp played in four games and recorded five goals and two assists to help the United States win the World Junior A Challenge title.

Pohlkamp’s performance earned him a spot on the 2022 World Junior A Challenge All-Star Team.

Pohlkamp said he was playing Call of Duty Monday, Dec. 12, when he got a call from his Cedar Rapids Roughriders coach.

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“I knew about this team before and I was kind of bummed I didn’t make it,” Pohlkamp said. “My coach called me and said they needed another defenseman because one of their defensemen got hurt. My dad drove me my passport from Brainerd to Cedar Rapids that night. I hopped on a plane to Chicago and then from Chicago to Montreal and they had a guy waiting for me at the airport. Definitely an unreal experience for sure.”

Pohlkamp joined the team prior to its Dec. 14 game against Canada East. He tallied one assist in USA’s 7-2 win.

Pohlkamp said he knew some of the other Minnesota guys on the roster, who helped him get comfortable.

“I know most of these guys from the USHL,” he said. “There were a couple of guys from Minnesota who helped me along the way. All the guys were really good to me.”

He followed with a hat trick against Latvia in a 9-0 win Dec. 16. Pohlkamp’s hat trick earned him player of the game and helped the United States advance to the semifinals.

Pohlkamp scored the opening goal against Latvia at the 13:56 mark of the first period.

His second goal came at the 12:54 mark of the second period to make it 3-0. He completed the hat trick with 14 seconds left in the second to put the USA ahead 5-0.

Pohlkamp was named player of the game for a second time in a 4-3 win over Sweden in the semifinals Dec. 17.

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He scored two power-play goals in the final three minutes of the second period.

Pohlkamp’s first power-play goal came at the 17:17 mark while his second one came with just 11 seconds left to tie the game at 3-3 before the third period.

“I was lucky enough to be on the power play,” Pohlkamp said. “I think they did their research and put together a pretty good power play. I got a couple of goals on the power play and then the other ones I had a pretty good screen in front of the net and shot it where the goalie wasn’t looking.”

In the championship game against Canada East, Pohlkamp assisted on the game-winning goal at the 16:28 mark of the second period. USA went on to win the title game 5-2.

“It felt unreal,” Pohlkamp said. “I got with these guys for a week and we just won a championship. I was hugging them and it was incredible to win, especially against Canada who is known for hockey. It was definitely a blast.”

Pohlkamp said the only time he was nervous was in the semifinals.

“Just because that’s do or die,” he said. “We didn’t come out with our best right away.”

This season for the RoughRiders Pohlkamp has tallied seven goals and 13 assists in 21 games. He tallied a hat trick on Dec. 3 in a 6-2 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

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Last season, in 61 games for the RoughRiders Pohlkamp scored 7 goals and tallied 11 assists.

“Coach has given me a little more rope this year,” he said. “I’ve been playing with a lot more confidence and with the puck. Our team is also better this year.”

He’s committed to playing for Bemidji State University next year. He said the experience of playing with the US Junior Select team is something he’ll cherish.

“It was great to play with some special players,” he said. “All those guys are incredible players and they definitely made my job easier on the back end.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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