Oakland forward Billy Balent advances to Italy

Division I hockey team’s forward Billy Balent was among 21 other athlete’s to be placed on the USA World University Hockey Team.

This team recognizes athletes all over the country that participate in university hockey. Including Balent, there are six men from Michigan placed on this team.

Others come from Minnesota, New York, Arizona, Illinois and Alaska to name a few. The team will head to Europe for December 9th to compete against other countries.

“We leave and play one exhibition game over there before our tournament starts. We will play Sweden, Latvia and Italy in Trentino [Italy],” Balent said.

Depending on how the games go, USA may advance to the quarterfinals, semi finals and the championship game.

Balent was not sure about how he was nominated for team USA but was honored to be picked.

“[Balent] got selected by the coaching staff,” head coach Gordie Schaeffler said..

“There are three coaches with the [American Collegiate Hockey Association] including Sean Hogan that was a former coach at OU that is now with Arizona. Bill was selected from all of the players across the country to represent his country.”

Schaeffler has worked with the past four OU students that have been appointed to team USA, including Balent. During his eight years with OU’s team, “Garrot Samp was apart of the University games in 2009 and Kevin Kranker and David Disanno two years ago.”

Even though he was worked with hockey athletes for years, Balent still stands out among the rest that he has coached.

“His work ethic. Day in and day out he’s ready to go. I don’t have to ask him anything. He is self-motivated,” Schaeffler said. “His idol is Steve Yzerman, and he leads the same way. He leads by example, and he does all the little things right. He is just a great kid all around.”

Assistant coach Kris Horn agrees that Balent shows leadership on the ice, and he works hard every day to improve his personal skills and help the members of his team to reach their full potential to make their team better as a whole.

“[Balent] is hard working. Whether if its practice or games, he give 110%. I think that’s because he is the assistant captain of the team, and a lot of the younger players look up to him. From a leadership standpoint, he brings a lot to the table,” Horn said.

Balent said he is “excited” to head to Italy to play other counties as a part of the USA World University Hockey Team. As he wraps up his season with Oakland, he prepares for the fun experience that is approaching him in just a few weeks.