On Friday, it was announced that players from the National Hockey League were cleared to participate in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games taking place in Sochi, Russia. Today, USA Hockey named the 48 players, representing 24 NHL teams that will take part in the U.S. Men’s National Team Orientation Camp.
Camp, which is scheduled to be held on August 26-27 at Kettler Capitals IcePlex in Arlington, Va., serves to help pick and prepare the players who will go on to represent the Americans in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
The United States won the silver medal in 2002 and 2010, both losses to Canada, but the 2014 squad seems to be the nation’s best chance at the gold medal.
Dan Bylsma, head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, will coach the 2014 team, while David Poile, of the Nashville Predators, will serve as general manager. Both emphasized the importance of keeping together a core of players from the 2010 team.
Sixteen of the 48 players that were invited to camp are from Team USA that won the silver medal in 2010 in Vancouver. Among the returnees are three of the alternate captains, Zach Parise, who was Team USA’s leading scorer from the 2010 Olympics and whose goal with 22 seconds left sent the gold-medal game into overtime, Ryan Suter, one of the best American D-men in the game, and Dustin Brown, who led the Kings to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Also highlighting the roster are Ryan Miller, Team USA’s starting goalie and the MVP of the 2010 Olympics; Patrick Kane and Jonathon Quick, the two most recent winners of the Conn Smythe Trophy for most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; and Phil Kessel, who finished 6th in the NHL in goals and points at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season and led the Toronto Maple Leafs in goals, assists, and points in the 2012-13 season.
Jack Johnson is expected to return and based on how well they worked together in 2010 he will most likely be paired with Ryan Suter; Brooks Orpik is a shutdown defenseman who isn’t afraid to get physical.
Bylsma and Poile certainly have a solid pool of talent to choose from. In 2010 the Americans were the underdog and pulled off a surprising silver medal finish. Hunger for the gold this time around, if they could build an even better team than 2010’s squad, the Americans will be gold medal contenders. With the best goaltending by far in the world, a deep defense, and forwards who have a combination of size, speed, and skill Team USA will be strong, making it an exciting Olympic tournament.
The Olympic tournament is set for February 12- February 23, 2014, with the gold medal game on February 23rd at 7 am EST.