Mike Lundin has never had the opportunity to represent his country.
The former University of Maine All-Hockey East second-team defenseman and captain will next month.
Lundin, who plays for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, was named to the U.S. team that will play May 7-23 in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championships in Germany.
“This is a great exclamation point on a pretty good season. This was definitely a surprise. It never crossed my mind. I never really thought about it,” said Lundin, who started the season in the American Hockey League but was called up after notching 16 points in 27 games for Norfolk, Va.
He quickly established himself as one of Tampa Bay’s most dependable defensemen.
The 6-foot-2, 197-pound Lundin had three goals and 10 assists in 49 games and finished strong with three assists in his last three games and seven assists over his last 10.
He averaged 21 minutes, 56 seconds in ice time per game as he saw duty on the power play and on the penalty kill in addition to skating a regular shift.
“Going into the season, I had no idea I’d even get back to the NHL level,” said Lundin, who had six assists in 81 games as a rookie for the Lightning in 2007-2008 but spent the majority of the 2008-2009 season in Norfolk.
“But I played really well in the minors, got called up and the coach [Rick Tocchet] had confidence in me, which helped give me confidence. When your coach has confidence in you, it’s a lot easier to play. He gave me more ice time and more opportunities to play in key situations,” said the 25-year-old native of Apple Valley, Minn.
“I played so much better than I had in the past,” added Lundin.
Tocchet and general manager Brian Lawton were fired after the Lightning went 34-36-12 and missed the playoffs.
Lundin was sad to see Tocchet go, saying, “He’s a good person who is passionate about the game.”
Lundin’s contract is up, but he hopes to return to the Lightning next season.
“Hopefully, everything will go well over the summer and I’ll re-sign with Tampa Bay,” said Lundin, who is married to former University of Maine volleyball co-captain and All-America East first-team selection Shelley Seipp.
“It’s a great city and it’s warm. It’s a big city but it’s not huge, so you don’t have to deal with overwhelming traffic and that kind of stuff. The fans are pretty close-knit,” he said.
With players like 51-goal scorer Steven Stamkos and NHL All-Stars Martin St. Louis (94 points) and Vincent Lecavalier (70 points), Lundin feels the Lightning have the potential “to get back into the playoffs and be a dominant team like we were five years ago.”
Lundin is looking forward to the World Championships.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to use my speed on the Olympic ice sheet. It’s exciting to get a chance to play on the world stage. Hopefully, I’ll play well and increase my value,” he said.
Lundin’s brother Matt, a former UMaine goalie who transferred to Mercyhurst College (Pa.), is playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the International Hockey League.