At a tournament in Minnesota for the top 16-year-old players in the U.S., Sterling scored two goals to lead his Pacific Region team to a 3-1 victory in the title game. Afterward, Mo Mantha, a coach with the USA national program, invited Sterling to join Team USA.
Sterling went through a grueling program in Ann Arbor, where the national program is based -- school in the mornings and hockey in the afternoons. He excelled at both, ranking first in his high school class with a 4.2 grade-point average and helping Team USA win its first gold medal at the world junior championships.
Heady stuff for a non-surfer dude who used to skate around a Pasadena ballroom.
"Coming from California, [hockey] people always want to discredit you," Sterling said. "That's not a problem for me. It makes me want to show them that they don't have as much heart as I do. I'm going to beat them."
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Hobey Baker Award
The 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey's best player. Three finalists will be announced Wednesday, and the winner will be announced on April 8:
* REID CASHMAN...Quinnipiac
* PATRICK EAVES...Boston College
* DOV GRUMET-MORRIS...Harvard
* T.J. HENSICK...Michigan
* DAVID McKEE...Cornell
* COLIN MURPHY...Michigan Tech
* MARTY SERTICH...Colorado College
* JORDAN SIGALET...Bowling Green
* BRETT STERLING...Colorado College
* TUOMAS TARKKI...Northern Michigan