Sleeping on his bag, Andrew Copp’s long journey back to Ann Arbor from the World Junior Championships

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By Greg Garno, Daily Sports Editor
Published January 9, 2014

So, how was your trip back to Ann Arbor after winter break?

Perhaps your flight or train was delayed — or worse, it was cancelled. Maybe you’re just returning to Ann Arbor on Thursday or even later.

Whatever the case, you probably didn’t have to sleep on a hockey bag. And whatever happened, sophomore forward Andrew Copp of the Michigan hockey team likely has you beat after 35 hours of traveling abroad, where he missed the break with his family to play with the United States Junior Hockey Team.

The World Junior Championships, though not as well-known in the United States, are a bit of a big deal around the rest of the world. Countries like Canada not only broadcast the championships on TV, but also the selection process.

One day after losing to Russia in the quarterfinals of the Championships, Copp embarked on his trip back to the United States from Sweden, the host country for 2014.

Copp began his trip with a bus ride at 7 a.m. to the airport in Sweden to catch a flight to Paris. In France, Copp was set to transfer to a flight to Washington, D.C.

But Copp was stuck — if one can be stuck — in Paris until 11 p.m. before he finally took off for the nation’s capital. Waiting to transfer flights once again, this time to Detroit, Copp spent the night in the airport.

“My hockey bag was my bed for the night,” Copp said Wednesday with a smile.

By the time he returned to Detroit, Copp had travelled for a total of 35 hours, keeping track of every minute on a stopwatch for good measure.

“I’m pretty tired right now,” Copp said. “I’m kind of getting back into it, but still struggling a little bit.”

But he dreamed of representing the United States abroad when he played for the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, so Copp is taking the hectic travel in stride.

It wasn’t the first time Copp competed with the national team, but this time, Copp played as an alternate captain. He is one of many Wolverines over the years to play for the U.S. World Junior Team, including current Winnipeg Jet Jacob Trouba.

“It’s just a great experience to go over there again to represent your country and be a part of something special like the World Juniors,” Copp said. “It’s such a tremendous honor and pride in playing for your country.”

Copp played alongside Big Ten counterparts, including Brady Skjei of Minnesota and Nic Kerdiles of Wisconsin, and former opponents from this season, like Danny O’Regan of Boston University and Steven Santini of Boston College.

“It was good to be with those guys again,” Copp said “To see those guys and play against guys … that are high NHL draft picks and highly talented players. It was an awesome experience to play with and against some of the best players in the world.”

But while Copp was playing in Sweden, his teammates were missing him back at home. The Wolverines suffered their first weekend sweep of the season at the hands Michigan Tech and Michigan State, all without Copp.

“I think it’s just how the games went,” Copp said “The GLI is a tournament where anything can happen.

“I like to think I’m important on the team, but I don’t think that had anything to do with what happened at the GLI.”

In Wednesday’s practice, his teammates skated off the ice one by one. It’s been weeks since the GLI, and the Wolverines’s attitude has become more somber.

The lights were dimmed as the sun shone its final rays through the windows of Yost Ice Arena. But, alone on the ice, sophomore forward Andrew Copp shot on net from the slot until it was finally time to skate off.

An alternate captain, Copp has made a habit of staying on the ice later than most, but this time, it’s out of necessity. This time, Copp must play catch-up to return to top form.

Copp’s routine has yet to regain normalcy. He’s still used to playing on larger ice that fits international regulations and is worn from the rigor of playing five games in eight days.

He’s still used to wearing red, white and blue, not the block ‘M.’

“Especially the first time you out it back on, it’s a special feeling,” Copp said of the USA jersey. “Anytime you represent your country it’s a great experience. But more so, I thought about it after we lost to Russia. I didn’t want to take it off.”