Goalies David Leggio and Brandon Maxwell have been added to the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, and the 25-man roster is now complete.
When USA Hockey announced its men’s and women’s Olympic teams at the NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, it left two spots open on the men’s team for additional goalies. The organization announced on Thursday that Europe-based professionals Leggio and Maxwell will join Ryan Zapolski as Team USA’s netminders in PyeongChang.
All three played for Team USA at November’s Deutschland Cup in Germany, the lone pre-Olympic tournament for the U.S. men’s national team. That experience playing with the team was key in the evaluation process, according to USA Hockey Assistant Executive Director of Hockey Jim Johannson.
“(Leggio and Maxwell are) familiar with a lot of the core of our team, were good guys in our process,” Johannson said. “… We’re excited for both of them and they really round out an exciting team.”
Zapolski, who plays in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, is the presumptive starter for Team USA, but now he officially has some competition.
Johannson called Maxwell, 26, from Winter Park, Florida, an “elite puckhandling goaltender” and that was a huge factor in his selection. Maxwell is the youngest of the three, and also the tallest and heaviest. The 6-foot-1, 196-pound Maxwell is playing for BK Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic. He has played in that country for parts of the last four seasons.
Maxwell was a third-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2009. A former member of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Maxwell played for Team USA at the 2008 U18 world championships and was the winning goalie in the bronze-medal game, turning away 42 of 45 shots in a 6-3 win over Sweden.
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Leggio, 33, from Williamsville, New York, is 6 feet, 181 pounds and is playing for EHC München in Germany. He has been with EHC München the last three seasons after playing for six American Hockey League teams from 2007-08 through 2014-15.
He is best known for his tactic of dislodging the net during an opponent’s breakaway, forcing leagues on two continents to make “Leggio Rules.”
The German league responded with its “Leggio Rule” last month, awarding the opponent a goal if the defending goalie dislodges the net off its moorings during a breakaway. IIHF rules currently only allow a penalty shot.
Leggio’s use of the tactic during his AHL days prompted that league to add a rule that not only included the penalty shot, but the ejection of the offending goalie.
“In David Leggio, we’ve got a guy that’s been a great teammate everywhere he’s been, and also has been a very steady performer,” Johannson said. “… These guys are both pros, they’re both every experienced on the Europe ice, and they have the ability to keep their team in the game.”
Team USA utilized all three goalies in the 2017 Deutschland Cup. The Americans outshot Slovakia, Russia and Germany by a combined 90-60, but were outscored 12-4 to finish the tournament 0-3.
“We had all three at the Deutschland Cup … and they’ve all had really solid years,” said U.S. head coach Tony Granato. “We’re excited at the depth.”
U.S. captain Brian Gionta is the only member of the team with Olympic experience, scoring four goals at the Olympic Winter Games Torino 2006. Now with his team complete, he was excited to see them hit the ice next month.
“Not knowing the complete rosters of all the other teams, I love our team,” Gionta said. “I’m just extremely excited to be a part of this group … and I think we have a great bunch of guys.”
Team USA’s Olympic schedule is set for PyeongChang. The Americans open preliminary-round play against Slovenia 7:10 a.m. ET on Feb. 14, then take on Slovakia 10:10 p.m. Feb. 15, followed by a 7:10 a.m. game on Feb. 17 against Russia.
Quarterfinals are slated for Feb. 21, semifinals for Feb. 23, the bronze-medal match for Feb. 24, and the gold-medal game for Feb. 25.
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.