Olympics-U.S. turns to college ranks to fill out men’s ice hockey roster

Written by on January 13, 2022

January 14, 2022

By Steve Keating

(Reuters) – With the National Hockey League having pulled out of the Beijing Olympics the United States turned to the college ranks to fill out its men’s ice hockey roster on Thursday, calling up 15 university players for next month’s Winter Games.

The U.S. squad that was expected to be packed from top to bottom with high-profile NHLers instead included a mostly anonymous group cobbled together from colleges, European professional and North American minor leagues.

“We’re excited about the roster we’ve put together,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, general manager of the 2 U.S. Olympic men’s team in a statement.

“The Olympics are the biggest stage in sports and it was fun to hear the enthusiasm our players have to represent their country.”

The U.S. will not be without NHL experience.

Nick Shore, a third-round draft pick of the Los Angles Kings in 2011, brings the most experience having played 299 games with five teams, scoring 18 goals and 41 assists.

Seven members of the U.S. squad have played at least one NHL game while Brian O’Neill, one of five players from the Russian KHL on the roster, is the lone returning Olympian from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

USA Hockey was forced to come up with a Plan B when the NHL decided in December it would not send players to Beijing due to major disruptions in the schedule created by a surge in COVID-19 that has seen over 100 games postponed.

The NHL said it will use the Olympic window to reschedule postponed games.

The Beijing Olympics run from Feb. 4-20 with the U.S. opening play on Feb. 10 against China.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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