Not able to pick from a generation of young American stars, USA Hockey is leaning on a longtime NHL winger as captain and hopes a diverse roster can capture an Olympic medal.
At the Winter Classic in New York on Monday, the U.S. named veteran Brian Gionta captain as it unveiled its roster for the Pyeongchang Olympics, the first games without NHL players since 1994. There’s no Patrick Kane, Johnny Gaudreau, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel or Jonathan Quick, so the U.S. men’s team is made up of Gionta, four college players, three from the American Hockey League and 15 playing in professional leagues across Europe.
“We really like our roster,” general manager Jim Johannson said. “It’s a group that brings versatility and experience and includes players who have a lot of passion about representing our country.”
Denver’s Troy Terry, Boston University’s Jordan Greenway, St. Cloud State’s Will Borgen and Harvard’s Ryan Donato are the NCAA players who should give the U.S. a shot of youth. Terry and Greenway won World Junior gold with the U.S. last year.
“I get the opportunity to go over there and show everyone what I can do,” Greenway said. “I would have never (thought I’d) been saying to myself I will probably be playing in the Olympics in my junior year of college.”
This isn’t a rag-tag bunch of college kids like the 1980 “Miracle On Ice,” the last time the U.S. men’s hockey team won the Olympic gold medal. The goal was to build a team of varying talents that could compete with two-time defending champion Canada and favored Russia, so much of the roster is seasoned.
With 1,006 games played over 15 seasons, the 38-year-old Gionta has by far the most NHL experience of 23 players named. A total of 15 players have appeared in the NHL, including AHL star Chris Bourque and European-based forwards Mark Arcobello and Jim Slater (Lapeer, Mich.) and defensemen James Wisniewski (Canton) and Bobby Sanguinetti .
“I think it’s a great mix of young talent and veteran players with a lot of international experience,” said Sanguinetti, who was a first-round pick of the New York Rangers in 2006. “Excited to get together in a month.”
Tony Granato, who played at the 1988 Olympics and now coaches at Wisconsin, will be behind the bench in South Korea. The U.S. lost the bronze-medal game to Finland in 2014.
Keller makes women’s team
The U.S. women’s Olympic team is leaning on 13 newcomers as the Americans head to the Pyeongchang Games trying to end a 20-year gold medal drought.
USA Hockey announced the 23-woman roster Monday. Captain Meghan Duggan is one of six two-time silver medalists, and there are four other returning players from 2014.
“Things look really good,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.
Forward Alex Carpenter and defenseman Megan Bozek also won silver in 2014, but they did not make the cut. Farmington defender Megan Keller, of Boston College, made the team.
2018 U.S. men’s roster
Forwards: Mark Arcobello, Chris Bourque, Bobby Butler, Ryan Donato, Brian Gionta, Jordan Greenway, Chad Kolarik, Broc Little, John McCarthy, Brian O’Neill, Garrett Roe, Jim Slater, Ryan Stoa, Troy Terry.
Defense: Chad Billins, Jonathon Blum, Will Borgen Matt Gilroy, Ryan Gunderson, Bobby Sanguinetti, Noah Welch, James Wisniewski.
Goalies: Ryan Zapolski*
Head Coach: Tony Granato
*-Two additional goalies to be added later in January.
2018 U.S. women’s roster
Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux, Gigi Marvin, Kelly Pannek, Amanda Pelkey, Haley Skarupa.
Defense: Cayla Barnes, Kacey Bellamy, Kali Flanagan, Megan Keller, Sidney Morin, Emily Pfalzer, Lee Stecklein.
Goalies: Nicole Hensley, Alex Rigsby, Maddie Rooney.