Crimson, white and blue, and an entire lot of youth. After the NHL and NHLPA agreed to not ship its gamers to the Beijing Winter Olympics, the U.S. men’s hockey team has taken on a unique texture. Team USA is youthful, much less skilled and headlined by 19-year-olds Jake Sanderson and Matty Beniers.
If one fast look on the roster smells like teen spirit, it’s as a result of it does. For the primary time since 1984, 5 youngsters will go well with up for the U.S. There are extra gamers at present in faculty (15) than these with NHL expertise (7). So, forgive David Quinn if he begins having flashbacks to his five-year tenure at Boston College. Albeit with out acquainted faces: Michigan and Minnesota lead the team with 4 present or former gamers every.
It’s enjoyable to lose and to faux, Kurt Cobain wrote, however, for the U.S., it may be even higher to win and contend with out expectations. Right here’s a primary take a look at the team, which is able to start preliminary spherical play towards China on Thursday, Feb. 10.
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Beniers, the Kraken’s No. 2 choose within the 2021 draft, would be the youngest participant to take the ice for the men’s hockey team in 38 years. At 6’1″ and 175 kilos, Beniers is a two-way heart who thrives within the transition sport. He has 26 factors in 22 video games, helming Michigan’s loaded prime line with fellow Olympian Brendan Brisson and Kent Johnson.
Whereas the roster options some collegiate bonds, it’s simpler to search out shared historical past from the U.S. Nationwide Team Growth Program. Teenage skaters Beniers, Sanderson, Brock Faber and goaltender Drew Commesso all performed collectively on the 2019–20 U-18 USNTDP squad. Sanderson, the Senators’ No. 5 choose within the ’20 draft, is the son of longtime NHLer Geoff Sanderson and leads North Dakota’s blue line. He’s averaging 1.29 factors per sport, first amongst all NCAA defensemen.
The remainder of the group—Faber, Commesso and Minnesota ahead Matthew Knies—have been all chosen inside the first two rounds of the final two drafts.
This 12 months’s squad is the youngest (25.1 years outdated) that it’s been in 28 years, and that’s because of its overwhelming inclusion of NCAA athletes. Excluding the teenagers, eight of the ten collegiate gamers have been drafted by an NHL team. Nathan Smith, a Jets’ 2018 third-round choose, leads Division I with 33 factors in 22 video games for No. 1 Minnesota State.
Elsewhere, forwards Brisson, Sam Farrell and Nick Abruzzese share a typical heritage with the USHL’s Chicago Metal. Brisson, certainly one of three first-round draft picks on the roster, is the son of superagent Pat Brisson, who represents stars like Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and John Tavares. The Golden Knights’ No. 29 choose in 2020, Brisson leads all sophomores with 14 targets in 23 video games for Michigan. Outdoors of Cambridge and down Commonwealth Avenue, defenseman Drew Helleson and ahead Marc McLaughlin play at Boston Faculty. They’re certainly one of 5 teams of gamers who’re present faculty teammates. Farrell and Abruzzese (Harvard); Sam Hentges and Nick Perbix (St. Cloud State); Beniers and Brisson (Michigan); and Knies, Faber and Ben Meyers (Minnesota) are the others.
Noah Cates, a Flyers prospect and captain at Minnesota Duluth, helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back nationwide championships in 2018 and ’19. His older brother, Jackson, has performed six video games for Philadelphia this season.
Brian O’Neill, the roster’s solely participant with Olympic expertise, is certainly one of seven gamers averaging greater than a degree per sport within the KHL. He received the AHL MVP in 2015 and had a short stint with the Devils throughout the ’15–16 season.
Staying within the KHL, Steven Kampfer and Kenny Agostino each left the NHL after final season to affix Russia’s premier hockey league. Kampfer, who final performed for the Bruins, ranks sixth amongst all KHL defensemen with 30 factors. Agostino has scored 20 targets for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, the eighth-most within the league. He additionally received the AHL MVP, in 2017, and may be greatest remembered for successful an NCAA title with Yale or for being one piece within the commerce that despatched Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh.
Nick Shore leads the team with 299 profession NHL video games. He performed most of these with the Kings from 2014–18 and, earlier than that, helped the U.S. win gold on the ’10 IIHF World U18 Championship.
The team’s elder statesman, at 34, is goaltender Pat Nagle. He was a standout netminder for the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, through which he had a 68-24-7 document and .916 save proportion throughout three seasons. He’s undefeated in eight video games with the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Additionally in web, 23-year-old Straus Mann performs for the Swedish Hockey League’s Skellefteå Aik. His 1.77 goals-against common and .930 save proportion rank first amongst all goaltenders.
Defensemen David Warsofsky and Brian Cooper spherical out the team’s 23-man roster. Warsofsky performed 55 video games over 5 seasons with the Bruins, Penguins, Devils and Avalanche, whereas Cooper was a one-time Geese prospect.
This isn’t a dream team, nevertheless it doesn’t should be. The 2022 Winter Olympics affords an opportunity to see among the U.S.’s premier prospects compete on the world stage—a real once-in-a-lifetime alternative for the youngsters, collegians and journeymen alike.
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