Former collegians dominated the roster for the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team, with 18 veterans of the college game placing among the 23-man group announced Monday by USA Hockey.
Each of the Olympians is a current NHL player, and 11 have previous Olympic experience, led by Chris Chelios (Wisconsin) and Keith Tkachuk (Boston University), each of whom has played in three previous Winter Games.
“We are extremely pleased with our team and feel very confident that we’ve put a solid group together that will best put us in a position to compete for the gold medal,” said Don Waddell, the general manager of Team USA and the executive vice president and general manager of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers. “The selection process was an extremely difficult one and that’s a terrific statement for hockey in the United States. It means our talent pool in this country continues to grow.”
Fitting for a season that has seen Lake Superior State revive its hockey fortunes, three former Lakers — goaltender John Grahame and forwards Brian Rolston and Doug Weight — dot the roster. That is tied for the most by any college program, along with Boston University. Boston College, Clarkson and Wisconsin each have two players on the roster.
The Empire State is well-represented, as the Americans feature six players born in New York, along with five born in Michigan and three each from Minnesota and Massachusetts.
Two Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners will represent the U.S. in Italy: defenseman Jordan Leopold (Minnesota), the 2002 winner, and Chris Drury (Boston University), the recipient in 1998. Leopold is an Olympic newcomer, while Drury played with the silver medal-winning 2002 team — the first U.S. Olympic hockey medal since the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980.
Chelios, on the other hand, first faced Olympic competition in 1984 and was a member of both the 1998 and 2002 teams. At 44, he is slated to become the third-oldest participant ever in an Olympic ice hockey tournament.
At the other end of the age spectrum, netminder Rick DiPietro (Boston University), at 24, is the youngest member of the U.S. team.
The 2006 Games are set for Feb. 15-26 in Torino, Italy. The U.S. will debut Feb. 15 when it takes on Latvia at 3 p.m. EST.
Peter Laviolette, head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, will be the head coach, assisted by Mike Sullivan, head coach of the Boston Bruins, and Keith Allain, goaltending coach for the St. Louis Blues.
2006 U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey Team
Position Name (Hometown) NHL club (college, if any)
F Jason Blake (Moorhead, Minn.), New York Islanders (North Dakota)
F Erik Cole (Oswego, N.Y.), Carolina Hurricanes (Clarkson)
F Craig Conroy (Potsdam, N.Y.), Los Angeles Kings (Clarkson)
F Chris Drury (Trumbull, Conn.), Buffalo Sabres (Boston University)
F Brian Gionta (Rochester, N.Y.), New Jersey Devils (Boston College)
F Scott Gomez (Anchorage, Alaska), New Jersey Devils
F Bill Guerin (Wilbraham, Mass.), Dallas Stars
F Mike Knuble (Toronto, Ont.), Philadelphia Flyers (Michigan)
F Mike Modano (Livonia, Mich.), Dallas Stars
F Mark Parrish (Minneapolis), New York Islanders (St. Cloud State)
F Brian Rolston (Flint, Mich.), Minnesota Wild (Lake Superior State)
F Keith Tkachuk (Melrose, Mass.), St. Louis Blues (Boston University)
F Doug Weight (Warren, Mich.), St. Louis Blues (Lake Superior State)
D Chris Chelios (Chicago), Detroit Red Wings (Wisconsin)
D Derian Hatcher (Sterling Heights, Mich.), Philadelphia Flyers
D Jordan Leopold (Golden Valley, Minn.), Calgary Flames (Minnesota)
D John-Michael Liles (Zionsville, Ind.), Colorado Avalanche (Michigan State)
D Aaron Miller (Buffalo, N.Y.), Los Angeles Kings (Vermont)
D Brian Rafalski (Dearborn, Mich.), New Jersey Devils (Wisconsin)
D Mathieu Schneider (New York), Detroit Red Wings
G Rick DiPietro (Winthrop, Mass.), New York Islanders (Boston University)
G John Grahame (Denver), Tampa Bay Lighting (Lake Superior State)
G Robert Esche (Utica, N.Y.), Philadelphia Flyers