While hearts will be heavy for the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team, with the unexpected passing of general manager Jim Johannson on Jan. 21, 2018, in the early morning hours at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Team USA will no doubt be focused on bringing home the first gold medal in men's ice hockey to the United States for the first time since 1980.
Johannson, director of player personnel Ben Smith, and the U.S. coaching staff led by head coach Tony Granato, built a team that includes 17 players competing professionally in Europe; three players from the AHL; four from NCAA Division I men's ice hockey; and captain Brian Gionta, who has been training with the AHL's Rochester Americans. Gionta, a Rochester, N.Y., native, played one game on a PTO on Feb. 2, 2018, with the Americans, and scored a goal to which the crowd erupted in chants of USA, USA.
“The depth of our talent pool in the U.S. is as great as it has even been,” said Johannson, in August “and we’ll have an excellent team representing our country.”
U.S. players arrive in South Korea Feb. 7-8 and the team's first practice is set for Feb. 9 at Gangneung Hockey Centre at 11 a.m. local time. Team USA's first game is Feb. 14 against Slovenia at 9:10 p.m.
While Brian Gionta (Rochester, N.Y./Boston College), who will serve as team captain, is the only Olympian on the roster (he played in 2006), 23 other players have donned the U.S. sweater in international competition and captured 14 medals.
Team USA’s forward lineup is highlighted by three of the top point getters in the National League in Switzerland, including Marc Arcobello (Milford, Conn./SC Bern/Yale University), who as of Jan. 1 led the league with 39 points (13-26) in 33 games played. Broc Little (Phoenix, Ariz./HC Davos/Yale University) and Garrett Roe (Vienna, Va./EV Zug/St. Cloud State University) were tied for third with 31 points each. The U.S. offense will also feature the talents of Chris Bourque (Boston, Mass./Hershey/Boston University), who as of Jan. 1 led the AHL with 39 points (11-28) in 34 games played for the Hershey Bears, and Harvard University’s Ryan Donato (Scituate, Mass./Harvard University), who was fourth in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey in points per game (1.45) as of Jan. 1.
Matt Gilroy (North Bellmore, N.Y./Jokerit/Boston University), who played 225 games in the NHL and won the 2009 Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top player in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey, will anchor the blueline. As of Jan. 1, he was tied for sixth in points among defenseman in the Kontinental Hockey League with 25 (6-19) in 44 games with Jokerit. The U.S. will also rely on the talents of Ryan Gunderson (Bensalem, Pa./Brynas IF/University of Vermont), who led all Swedish Hockey League defensemen on Jan. 1 with 25 points (4-21) in 31 games played and James Wisniewski (Canton, Mich./Kassel), who on Jan. 1 topped all blueliners in the DEL2 with 36 points playing for Kassel. Wisniewski, who has 552 regular-season NHL games on his resume, helped the U.S. win its first-ever gold medal in the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2004.
In goal, Team USA will rely on the talents of Ryan Zapolski (Erie, Pa./Jokerit/Mercyhurst University), who is one of three players from Jokerit named to Team USA. Zapolski was fifth in the KHL on Jan. 1 with a 1.68 goals against average and owned a 21-8-3 record and .935 save percentage. David Leggio (Williamsville, N.Y./EHC Munchen/Clarkson University) and Brandon Maxwell (Winter Park, Fla./BK Mlada Boleslav) complete Team USA’s goaltending trio.