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The U.S. men’s ice hockey team won the silver medal at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and will look to carry its momentum into the Sochi Games. Team USA completed the Vancouver Games with a 5-1 record, with its lone loss coming in overtime to Canada, 3-2, in the gold-medal match. Overall, the team’s high-powered offense outscored its opponents, 24-9. With the nucleus of the team slated to return in 2014, Team USA is poised to be a favorite in Sochi.
Ryan Miller – who was named the top goalkeeper and MVP of the Vancouver Games – will be vying for a chance to return in goal. Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) and Cory Schneider (Vancouver Canucks) will also contend for one of three goaltending roster spots. Another top contender is Tim Thomas, who opted not to play during the 2012-13 season, but plans to return for the 2013-14 campaign.
At forward, Team USA’s talent pool runs deep. Names likely to fill the U.S. roster include Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild), who was the top point-getting forward on the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team; the dynamic Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks); and offensive threats Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs), Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks) and Bobby Ryan (Anaheim Ducks). Additional hopefuls include Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings), David Backes (St. Louis Blues), Ryan Callahan (New York Rangers) and Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks).
Team USA lost a key component on the defensive end with the retirement of Brian Rafalski, but has high hopes for a seasoned crop of defensemen, including Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild), Erik Johnson (Colorado Avalanche), Jack Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh Penguins).
In addition to Team USA, Olympic host Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic are likely to field strong teams at the Sochi Games. The talented field will compete at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, located in the coastal cluster.
Automatic qualification for the men's tournament at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games was determined by the IIHF men’s world ranking following the 2012 IIHF Men's World Championship. The top-nine teams earned automatic berths into the Games, including the U.S., which ranked seventh. Other nations will have an opportunity to earn one of the three remaining qualifying spots during tournament play, scheduled for Feb. 7-10, 2013.
Players are continually evaluated during the NHL season. The final Olympic roster will be named in early January. The announcement will likely be in conjunction with the 2014 NHL Winter Classic.
||NHL Winter Classic (Olympic Team announced)