Shayne Gostisbehere hasn’t yet decided whether or not he’s going to turn pro. For now, the 20-year-old just wants to celebrate a national championship with his teammates.
Gostisbehere, a third-round draft pick of the Flyers, helped Union earn its first national title with a three-point performance in Saturday’s 7-4 victory over the University of Minnesota at the Wells Fargo Center (see story).
In two games at the Frozen Four, the junior Dutchmen defenseman finished with five points and a plus-5 rating. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding player after posting a goal, two assists and plus-7 rating in the final against the Gophers.
But personal statistics didn’t really matter to Gostisbehere.
“Good, I don’t care," he said moments after the game. "The team won, that’s all that matters. I don’t care about anything else, we’re national champions. I don’t even know what to say right now.”
The buzz now surrounding Gostisbehere is whether he’ll return to Union College for his senior year or turn professional and pursue a career with the Flyers.
Did winning a national championship make his decision even harder?
"I'm not really thinking about that right now," Gostisbehere said. "I'm just thinking about all the hard work we put in this year to get that right there, and just having fun with my teammates right now and how we send off the seniors perfectly as champions. Just thinking about that right now with my team."
The Frozen Four served as an opportunity for Flyers fans to get a first glimpse at Gostisbehere, a smooth-skating and strong puck-handling blueliner.
Gostisbehere’s offensive gifts are obvious and they were on display throughout the tournament. But it’s his improved defensive play is what has many wondering if he could fit in with the Flyers’ defensive corps in the near future.
The coaches at Union have been working closely with Gostisbehere on fine-tuning the defensive aspect of his game.
"They worked with me everyday for the last three years on the defensive side of my game," Gostisbehere said. "They really improved that aspect of my game and I can't thank them enough. Coach [Jason] Tapp, going the extra ice with him and doing whatever I could to get better with the defensive side. I was kind of happy it got noticed with all my hard work."
The Flyers are hoping Gostisbehere will be a big part of their future, whenever the future arrives. One thing going against him is his size. He’s listed at 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds. But the Flyers seem willing to wait for his size to catch up to his abilities.
Gostisbehere made a great first impression in the arena he could soon be playing in. He earned the praise of his teammates, his coach and even the opposition for his play in the championship game.
"He's a special player," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. "I helped out with the [United States] World Juniors two years ago out in Lake Placid. I had heard he was a pretty good player but I hadn't seen him. When we were out there, it was like this guy is a serious talent. He's a special player and he kind of controlled the game back there. In my opinion, he was the best player on the ice."
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was in attendance and had to have liked what he saw from his potential defenseman of the future. But, for now, all the Flyers can do is sit and wait for Gostisbehere to make a decision. Stay tuned.