Will Borgen was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL draft. The Minnesota native was always an intriguing defensive prospect for the club and has the potential to be an impact player down the road.
Last week, however, he jumped into the spotlight. Borgen was selected to play for Team USA in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The 21-year-old is one of four college players that were selected on New Year’s Day.
Borgen played for Team USA at the 2016 U20 World Junior Championships. He won a bronze medal and added three points in the seven games he played. Even with that experience, the Olympics was never really on the radar. “No, I never really thought I would make the Olympic team, I never really put that first, it was just to try to get to college and play pro hockey eventually,” said Borgen.
Once the NHL announced that they were not going to participate in the event, he saw an opportunity. “Once this came around…I knew there was somewhat of a chance of me possibly making the team,” he said.
While some fans and even players are upset that the NHL won’t be sending their players for the first time since 1998. This opens the door for players like Borgen to advance their career on a big international stage.
When Borgen got the call he was selected he was at home on Christmas break. He got a call from his St. Cloud State Head Coach Bob Motzko who was in Buffalo at the time with Team USA from the World Juniors.
Borgen said, “it was exciting to find out and it was a big surprise.” He went on to say, “I’m super pumped to be a part of this and it’s a huge honor.”
The event itself is something he’s looking forward to saying, “I’m excited to take in the whole experience and to see other events, I’m pretty excited also to see somewhere like South Korea place I never planned on traveling to.”
As I mentioned previously he’s one of four collegiate athletes chosen to the men’s hockey team. Borgen is a junior at St. Cloud State. His team is the second-ranked team in the nation with a 13-3-3 record.
When I asked him if he felt this is the best team he had in the three years at St. Cloud State he believed it could be. Borgen talked about how he had a strong veteran core when he was a freshman and they took a step back as a young group last year.
“Everyone’s got some experience and we have a pretty solid team all around this year, a lot of depth, yeah, we’re hoping to make a run at it this year,” he said.
Borgen had the opportunity to play the Sabres top offensive prospect Casey Mittelstadt over the weekend. It was Mittelstadt’s first game back at the University of Minnesota after the World Juniors.
The defenseman mentioned getting to see Mittelstadt in Sabres development camp and then again over the weekend. “He’s a special player, he’s super skilled,” said Borgen.
We ended the conversation discussing Buffalo and his future. Borgen expressed his focus was with St. Cloud State and earning his degree. He did go on to talk a little about how he looks forward to his future. Saying, “I like Buffalo, but right now I’m focused on college and hopefully get my degree here, but yeah Buffalo is a great spot.”
Sabres fans will get a good look the defensive prospect when he steps onto the international stage in about a month. Team USA and Borgen will open the tournament on February 14th, with a preliminary game against Slovakia.