ANN ARBOR, USA – The United States men’s and women’s Olympic teams were announced at the NHL’s annual New Year’s Day Winter Classic held in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Team USA announced the women’s team during the second intermission, while the men’s team was named following the end of the game, a 3-2 shootout victory for the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Detroit Red Wings.
Both national sides will look to better identical silver medal finishes from 2010.
U.S. Men Ready to top 2010 Silver Medal
No longer under the radar, Team USA released its 25-man Olympic roster that seeks to improve on its surprising, yet ultimately disappointing 2010 silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Leading the 2014 mission are 13 holdovers from the Vancouver squad, headlined by forwards Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks) and Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild), defenceman Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild) and goaltender Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres).
The roster breaks down to 14 forwards, 8 defencemen and three goaltenders. In all, Team USA returns 58-percent of the offence from the 2010 campaign.
"We went through a very thorough process to get to today and could not be happier with the team we've selected," said Team USA general manager David Poile.
Goaltending, which was paramount to the Americans’ success in 2010, has suddenly become a liability after injuries have weakened the position thought to be the team’s greatest asset.
As previously speculated, Miller (Buffalo Sabres), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) and Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings) will fill the three goaltender roster spots.
Miller, who was named Tournament MVP in Vancouver, is having a fantastic season in Buffalo, despite the team struggling mightily in front of him.
The silver medalist has all but secured the No. 1 spot after the presumed starter and 2012 Stanley Cup MVP Jonathan Quick suffered a grade-two groin strain in late November and is yet to resume play. However, Quick is a shoo-in to remain on the roster assuming he’s healthy come February.
Howard’s surprise selection has drawn some criticism, especially considering he’s only played two games since Dec. 10 after a knee injury sidelined the Red Wings netminder for much of the month.
While his numbers are off his career averages, playing for the national team Howard was 5-2 with a 91.05% save percentage and 2.42 GAA at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
The biggest surprise of the announcement came as Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan, who played on the 2010 Olympic team, was left off the roster. Additionally, defencemen Jack Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Erik Johnson (Colorado Avalanche) will not be making a return to the Olympics after representing the U.S. four years ago.
"We're fortunate to have probably the deepest talent pool we've ever had in our country and that made for some very difficult decisions,” added Poile.
“In the end, however, we're confident we've selected a group of players that puts us in the best position to have success in Sochi."
Unfortunately, injuries have emerged as a major storyline for this U.S. roster. In addition to the time missed by Howard and Quick, others have missed a number of games due to ailments.
Zach Parise is currently on injured reserve with a foot injury and Ryan Callahan has finally resumed skating after an MCL sprain suffered on Dec. 10. Center David Backes is also currently out of the Blues lineup with an upper-body injury, with no timetable for return confirmed.
On defence, Paul Martin (broken tibia) and Brooks Orpik (concussion) have both spent time away from the Penguins. Orpik is back after missing seven games due to a vicious punch from Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins, while Martin is seeking a mid-January return.
Team USA opens action in Sochi against Slovakia on February 13 in Group A preliminary play at Shayba Arena.
USA women rounding into form for Sochi
The women’s team consists of three goalies, seven defencemen, and 11 forwards (full roster below) – a total of 17 are holdovers from the 2013 World Championship winning team. An additional 11 won silver at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic tournament.
"We're excited to officially announce our roster," said Reagan Carey, general manager for Team USA and also USA Hockey's director of women's hockey. "We had some very tough decisions, but we're confident that we have assembled 21 players that will help us achieve our goal of winning the gold medal.”
In analyzing this U.S. roster, strength can be found at both goaltending and forward.
Jessie Vetter (Cottage Grove, WI) anchored the Americans to a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and four World Championships gold medals (2008, 2009, 2011, 2013).
Veterans Meghan Duggan (Danvers, MA), Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux (Grand Forks, ND) and Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, ID) not only provide experience up front but also vital productivity. Recent increased offensive output from Kelli Stack (Brooklyn Heights, OH) and Alex Carpenter (North Reading, MA) grants even more depth at the position.
Duggan, in her sixth year with the national team, served as captain during the residency period and will take the same role in Sochi.
“We have veteran experience and a lot of youth that bring speed an intensity,” said Duggan. We have the right group. We’re excited and time is ticking away, we just want to get over to Sochi.”
Three-time Olympian Julie Chu is also headed to Sochi – the forward from Fairfield, Connecticut, is still seeking her first Olympic gold medal in her fourth attempt.
This roster’s biggest question mark surrounds forward Amanda Kessel (Madison, WI) who saw no ice time while in camp with Team USA after laboring to recover from a labrum injury in her hip.
Kessel, whom Coach Stone calls “the world’s best player,” won the Patty Kazmaier award in 2013 as the top player in college hockey after leading the University of Minnesota to an undefeated 41-0 season and an NCAA National Championship.
Kessel (the sister of men’s Olympian Phil Kessel) posted an astonishing 101 points (46g-55a) in 37 appearances, becoming only fourth player in NCAA history to reach the 100-point plateau.
Coach Stone and Team USA handed out 25 invites for the 2014 Residency Camp hosted at the Edge Sports Center outside Boston, Massachusetts, where the team has trained since early September.
The Americans, who are the reigning world champions after defeating Canada in Ottawa this past April, have also won five of the past seven world titles.
However, since the United States won the inaugural 1998 Nagano Olympic Gold Medal, Canada has claimed the past three Olympic championships.
U.S. National Men’s Team
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings (NHL)
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres (NHL)
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
John Carlson, Washington Capitals (NHL)
Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
Paul Martin, Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers (NHL)
Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues (NHL)
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild (NHL)
David Backes, St. Louis Blues (NHL)
Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers (NHL)
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks (NHL)
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)
T.J. Oshie, St. Louis Blues (NHL)
Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens (NHL)
Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild (NHL)
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks (NHL)
Derek Stepan, New York Rangers (NHL)
Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (NHL)
James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)
U.S. National Women’s Team
Brianne McLaughlin, Burlington Barracudas (CWHL)
Molly Schaus, Boston Blades (CWHL)
Jessie Vetter, Oregon Outlaws (GLHL)
Kacey Bellamy, Boston Blades (CWHL)
Megan Bozek, University of Minnesota (WCHA)
Gigi Marvin, Boston Blades (CWHL)
Michelle Picard, Harvard University (ECACH)
Josephine Pucci, Harvard University (ECACH)
Anne Schleper, Boston Blades (CWHL)
Lee Stecklein, University of Minnesota (WCHA)
Alex Carpenter, Boston College (HEA)
Kendall Coyne, Northeastern University (HEA)
Julie Chu, Montreal Stars (CWHL)
Brianna Decker, University of Wisconsin (WCHA)
Meghan Duggan, Boston Blades (CWHL)
Lyndsey Fry, Harvard University (ECACH)
Amanda Kessel, University of Minnesota (WCHA)
Hilary Knight, Boston Blades (CWHL)
Jocelyne Lamoureux, University of North Dakota (WCHA)
Monique Lamoureux, University of North Dakota (WCHA)
Kelli Stack, Boston Blades (CWHL)