This year’s Deutschland Cup, which runs Nov. 10-12 in Augsburg, Germany, takes on a whole new meaning for U.S. men’s hockey.
The 2017 U.S. Men’s National Select Team competing in Germany may end up bearing a striking resemblance to the squad that will represent Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 in February.
While the Deutschland Cup roster for Team USA is traditionally made up of U.S. players based in Europe, the 2018 Olympic teams will feature no National Hockey League players. After five straight Olympic Winter Games, the NHL has decided not to allow its players to participate.
Team USA, which is being coached by the same Tony Granato-led staff that will lead the team in PyeongChang, is made up of 27 players based in Europe plus two others, and those others are noteworthy. Ryan Malone, who played for the silver-medal-winning Olympic team in 2010, and 2006 Olympian Brian Gionta, who won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils, will give the team a veteran presence.
USA Hockey has acknowledged that because of the non-participation by the NHL, the Deutschland Cup is being utilized as part of the player evaluation and selection process for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. USA Hockey has a pool of about 100 players, including AHL players not on two-way contracts with NHL teams and college players.
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“We’re excited about our roster for the Deutschland Cup,” said Jim Johannson, USA Hockey assistant executive director for hockey operations, who is also the general manager of the 2017 U.S. Men’s National Select Team and 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. “It should be an excellent tournament and will also be a good chance to help us in our Olympic preparation.”
This is Team USA’s 10th appearance in the Deutschland Cup. It has played in the tournament every other year since 2007 and won the Deutschland Cup in 2003, 2004 and 2013 while finishing second four times: 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2015.
Forwards Chad Kolarik and Dan Sexton, defensemen Dylan Reese and goalie Ryan Zapolski were all members of the 2013 Deutschland Cup team that won the tournament. The Team USA roster features 11 players who have previously played in the Deutschland Cup, and 20 who have played for Team USA at the IIHF World Championships.
This year’s round-robin Deutschland Cup schedule has Team USA playing games at 10 a.m. EST Friday, Nov. 10 against Slovakia, 1:30 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 11 against Russia and 10:45 a.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 12 against Germany at Curt Frenzel Stadium in Augsburg.
In tournament history, Team USA is 1-3 against Slovakia, 3-2 against both Switzerland and Germany, and has yet to play Russia.
Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.