Men's hockey team members Marc McLaughlin, Kenneth Agostino, David Warsofsky, Drew Commesso and Brock Faber pose for a photo during Team USA athlete processing ahead of Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Jan. 31, 2022 in Los Angeles.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that the youngest, least experienced teams in the Olympics have a distinct disadvantage.
But the United States’ men’s Olympic ice hockey team is determined to defy conventional wisdom at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
The team has hopes that their young legs will excel against their more experienced opponents. And that as the tournament continues with a tightly packed schedule in the preliminary round, the U.S. will be able to remain fresh in a way its opponents will not.
“We’re going to be buzzing around, and we’re going to be able to play a full 60 minutes and not get tired,” 21-year-old forward Brendan Brisson told the Associated Press. “We use our legs a lot. I feel like when we have the puck, we’re going to be making good plays. And if we get the puck back right after we lose it, if we’re moving our feet, we’re going to have it the whole game and that’s really important to winning.”
With an average age of 25 years, 15 players currently competing in the collegiate ranks and eight skaters under the age of 21, coach David Quinn has been careful not to overload his team with information during an abbreviated training program in Beijing.
“We are trying to keep the systems as simple as possible,” Quinn said in a recent phone interview. “The less we have to explain the easier it is for the players to learn. We feel good about the direction it is going, they are grasping everything we are talking about. We don’t want them overthinking out there. Obviously, there is a lot to cover in a short period of time. You just have to go day by day and continue to get better. We are not going to go from A to Z overnight, it’s going to be a little bit of a process in a short period of time.”
“You have to trust your players,” Quinn continued. “You can’t have success if you don’t, we feel comfortable with the team that we chose. At the end of the day, trusting your players goes a long way to having success.”
Quinn spent the prior three seasons coaching the New York Rangers, compiling a 96-87-25 record. His ability to teach and assist with the development of a young roster while the team went through a rebuilding period were primary reasons he got the job after spending five years as the head coach at Boston University.
But the Olympics do not have an 82-game schedule and Quinn will have to balance competing priorities of allowing players to find themselves on the international stage while winning games.
“There is not a lot of time for players to play through bad stretches,” Quinn said. “That is certainly going to be different than most situations when you are coaching. It’s just a different setting but at the end of the day it’s about managing your players and putting them in the best position to have success and that’s our job as coaches. We got to make sure that we find the right combinations and put our team in the right mindset to play the style we want to play.”
While some have speculated the United States chose a young roster to gain experience for future international competitions, general manager John Vanbiesbrouck quickly rebuffed that theory.
“This is for the here and now,” Vanbiesbrouck said. “Not once were we thinking of the distant future. We picked a path and a core group that we wanted to go with that had the speed, the tenacity that could get us to a gold medal.”
The U.S. will play China in its first preliminary round game on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 8:10 a.m. ET.
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Olympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.