US Hockey Team Turns to an Olympic Veteran

Alumni Spotlight Andrea Nichols

Olympic play in men's hockey will begin February 14 in Pyeongchang, Korea.

The most obvious choice for captain of the United States roster was forward Brian Gionta.

Aside from his experience and leadership, Gionta made a name for himself as an excellent hockey player, scoring upwards of 20 goals in seven consecutive seasons with the New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens from 2003-04 until 2010-11 despite being undersized at 5 foot 7 and 178 pounds.

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He finished with 24 carries and 100 rushing yards while also becoming just the fifth player to record 14,000 career rushing yards. As a matter of fact, the first-and-10 play for Indianapolis was a simple handoff to Frank Gore that went for nine yards.

The U.S. team is coached by former Gophers goaltender Robb Stauber of Medina. Butler is one of three AHL players to make the initial roster of 23 players, with the others coming from college teams and professional teams in Europe.

"We've had an exceptional four months (training) in Wesley Chapel, Florida, leading up to this point, " said Reagan Carey, general manager for the women's Olympic team. Of the 23 players to book their ticket to the Pyeongchang, five are either current or past BC skaters.

Late a year ago, though, Stauber said the team felt a "need to tinker with some things". At just 18 years and 11 months of age, she is the youngest player on the 2018 United States of America. "So I hope this gives hockey players in California hope that one day they can represent their country at the highest honor." .

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Gionta will be team captain for the Americans after ending his National Hockey League career at the end of last season.

Greenwich's Sean Backman, a 2010 Yale graduate playing in the German pro league, was on the USA roster for the Deutschland Cup but did not make the final cut. Coupled with Barnes, Keller, and Flanagan, Pfalzer and the Eagles account for more than half of the 2018 Olympic Team's defensemen. He was a All-NCHC Rookie Team selection in the 2015-16 season, and selected on the 2017 All-NCHC Academic team. Since 1998, the USA has won three silver medals (2002, 2010, 2014) and one bronze medal (2006). Gionta, Barnes, Keller, Flanagan, Pfalzer, and Skarupa will play a big role in deciding just how far their respective teams advance in the 2018 games.

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