Four former collegians playing in the NHL, including two from St. Cloud State, found their names added to the U.S. men’s Olympic roster Monday.
Former Husky standouts and current Carolina Hurricanes Bret Hedican and Matt Cullen were named — Hedican as an injury replacement for Aaron Miller, and Cullen as a member of the Americans’ three-man “taxi squad” — players available for duty should active members of the team be injured.
Their involvement brings the number of St. Cloud veterans with ties to the U.S. Olympic team to three, tying Boston University and Lake Superior State for the most of any school.
Cullen joins former Minnesota defenseman Paul Martin of the New Jersey Devils and netminder Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, a Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner with Michigan State, on the taxi squad for the games in Torino, Italy.
“We feel bad for Aaron [Miller] that he’s unable to be part of the team,” said Don Waddell, general manager of Team USA. “At the same time we’re extremely fortunate to be able to replace Aaron with someone the caliber of Bret Hedican.”
Hedican has logged 18 points (5-13) in 51 games with Carolina this season while averaging more than 20 minutes per game. He last put on a USA jersey at the 2001 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship, where he scored two goals and had two assists in nine games for the U.S.
Cullen, Martin and Ryan Miller, meanwhile, will be available as potential replacements for Team USA members injured during the course of the Olympic Games.
Cullen has scored 20 goals and added 14 assists while posting a +7 rating for the Hurricanes. He was named to last year’s 2005 U.S. men’s national team, but was injured prior to the 2005 IIHF World Championship.
Martin is second among New Jersey defensemen in points (2-21–23) and time on ice (23:34). He skated in all seven games for the U.S. at the 2005 IIHF World Championship last April. If he is called upon to play, he would be the youngest skater (24) on Team USA and the second-youngest player on the team. Rick DiPietro, also 24, was born six months after Martin.
Despite suffering an injury that kept him sidelined for over a month, Ryan Miller has compiled 18 wins in 25 games for Buffalo. He owns a 2.18 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. He last represented the United States at the 2003 IIHF World Championship where he posted a 2-1-0 record and 2.49 GAA in four games.
Waddell said that Martin and Cullen will practice with the team in Italy, while Ryan Miller will be on call from the United States.
“It’s not practical to have four goaltenders dressed for practice, so we felt it best to have Ryan remain at home and be available to come over should one of our goaltenders get hurt,” said Waddell.
Team USA will begin its quest for a gold medal Feb. 15 when it faces Latvia at 3 p.m. EST.