Clarence teen playing in Hlinka Gretzky Cup

Posted at 7:22 PM, Aug 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-01 19:23:09-04

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WKBW) — It took a lot of camps and a lot of competition for Austin McNicholas to earn his chance overseas. But now that he's donning red white and blue, the journey's just beginning.

"After national camp, a lot of my life changed because of that," McNicholas said. "You know, just more doors opening up for me."

"It was a lot of competitive days back to back, and a lot of days to bring your A-game," goalie coach Bob Janosz said. "Which he did a great job of doing."

McNicholas is a member of Team USA for the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. It's been an international U18 hockey tournament for over 30 years. The magnitude of the feat, and the trip, isn't lost on him.

"My jersey, my pads, they're all gonna be framed after this. It's like, such a good memory, and it's just incredible," McNicholas said. "There's nothing more serious that I'll ever do probably than playing for my country."

Team USA's first preliminary game is against Slovakia at 1:00 p.m. eastern time on Monday.