It was 2018 at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Ex-San Jose Sharks forward Ryan Donato was 21 years old, a Hobey Baker finalist playing for Harvard University in the NCAA. At that time, he had not seen NHL action. You might not remember it, but he led the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team in points that year, with 6 points in five games.
You might not remember it, because the outcome wasn’t remarkable. The U.S. would place seventh in the tournament, as NHL players were kept from competing.
Another names you might recognize now from that 2018 squad: former San Jose Barracuda captain, John McCarthy. Also: Will Borgen, Jordan Greenway and Troy Terry, who were also playing for their respective college clubs that year. Other than that, not much. It feels like ages ago, but you don’t have to look further back than that to see the last time the Americans entered the Olympic games without any notable NHL players.
Here we are again four years later: the NHL has withdrawn from the 2022 Beijing Olympics as of Dec. 21, 2021, and its players are absent from the U.S. ice hockey roster in favor of new blood.
The circumstances are different, as the decision comes in the wake of an agreement between the league and the NHL players’ association (NHLPA) to protect its players from possible COVID-19 exposure, instead of a financial dispute between the league and the Olympic Committee, as seen in 2018.
So the result is that you won’t see Patrick Kane, Seth Jones, Auston Matthews, Joe Pavelski or hell, even Ryan Donato don the red, white and blue this year. But you will see the likes of Matty Beniers, Brendan Brisson, Jake Sanderson, Brock Faber, Drew Commesso and Drew Helleson. Names that aren’t quite as big in the NHL, but could maybe get there — when they get there.
This year’s squad feels more like the fabled company from the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’ U.S. hockey team, who fielded a roster whose ranks were filled with strictly NCAA hockey players. The team going to Beijing this February is a little less collegiate, with 15 players hailing from college teams. Still, most of the names on the squad may have you scratching your head ... unless you follow the European leagues or remember ex-NHL players like Nick Shore.
Notably absent from the list was Sharks prospect Thomas Bordeleau, who missed the 2021 World Juniors because of his exposure to a false positive COVID test. He unfortunately missed out on the 2022 World Juniors as well, after testing positive. The tournament was eventually canceled, but the notion is still that the 38th overall pick in 2020 has missed every opportunity to play in an international tournament.
Bordeleau will again be watching his peers from afar, as fellow University of Michigan Wolverines Beniers and Brisson will take to the ice for the U.S. in Group A, among Canada, Germany and Olympic hosts China.
“We’re excited about the roster we’ve put together,” John Vanbiesbrouck, general manager of the 2022 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team told media, “[...] we’re looking forward to competing for a gold medal in Beijing.”
In any matter, NHL players or not, here is the full roster for U.S.A. that is going Gold or bust:
Forwards: Nick Abruzzese (Harvard/NCAA), Kenny Agostino (Torpedo/KHL), Matty Beniers (Michigan/NCAA), Brendan Brisson (Michigan/NCAA), Noah Cates (Minnesota-Duluth/NCAA), Sean Farrell (Harvard/NCAA), Sam Hentges (St. Cloud State/NCAA), Matthew Knies (Minnesota/NCAA), Marc McLaughlin (Boston College/NCAA), Ben Meyers (Minnesota/NCAA), Andy Miele (Torpedo/KHL), Brian O’Neill (Jokerit/KHL), Nick Shore (Novosibirsk/KHL), Nathan Smith (Minnesota State/NCAA)
Defensemen: Brian Cooper (IK Oskarshamn/SHL), Brock Faber(Minnesota/NCAA), Drew Helleson (Boston College/NCAA), Steven Kampfer (Ak Bars Kazan/KHL), Aaron Ness (Providence/AHL), Nick Perbix (St. Cloud State/NCAA), Jake Sanderson (North Dakota/NCAA), David Warsofsky (Ingolstadt/DEL)
Goaltenders: Drew Commesso (Boston University/NCAA), Strauss Mann (Skelleftea/SHL), Pat Nagle (Lehigh Valley/AHL)
News & Notes
- Strengths, weaknesses of Sharks’ competition for playoff spot [NBC Sports Bay Area]
- Notes #38: Sharks in Fighting Mood, But Rangers Shut Them Out 3-0 [San Jose Hockey Now]
Blood in the Water
- NHL All-Star rosters: Last man in choices, snubs and show stealers [Sportsnet]
- “Sounds like Kane is already signed by Edmonton for $1.5 million pro rated”: TSN reports [Edmonton Journal]
- Pens Points: To Trade or Not to Trade [Pensburgh]
- With Rask back in mix, what is next for Bruins? [NBC Sports]
- No opportunities for return of NHL to Quebec City, Bettman tells government reps [TSN]
- Jakob Chychrun trade destinations: Top contenders, 4 dark horses, and what’s a fair price to pay? [The Athletic]
- ‘An honor and a message’: The meaning of Willie O’Ree’s jersey retirement [ESPN]
- Emergency goalie Shapiro backs up for Devils against Islanders [NHL.com]
- Longtime high school hockey coach Bill Belisle dies [AP News]
- USA Hockey announces final roster for 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the youngest since 1994 [CBS Sports]
Scores & Recaps
- Philadelphia Flyers 2, Boston Bruins 3
- Vancouver Canucks 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 4
- Columbus Blue Jackets 6, Carolina Hurricanes 0
- Winnipeg Jets 3, Detroit Red Wings 0
- New Jersey Devils 2, New York Islanders 3
- Seattle Kraken 1, St. Louis Blues 2
- Buffalo Sabres 4, Nashville Predators 1
- Montreal Canadiens 2, Chicago Blackhawks 3
- Ottawa Senators 4, Calgary Flames 1
- Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Los Angeles Kings 6
- New York Rangers 3, San Jose Sharks 0
Click on a team name to find a recap on their SB Nation site!