USA Hockey Magazine

February 2018

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FEBRUARY 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 21 known Great H E N B R I A N G I O N T A m a d e h i s Olympic debut in 2006, he was a rising young NHL star playing alongside members of the greatest generation of American players on the downside of their Hall of Fame careers. N o w a d o z e n y e a r s l a t e r , t h e Rochester, N.Y., native is stepping out of semi-retirement to lead a collection of collegians, minor leaguers and European league exiles into PyeongChang, South Korea for one last kick at the Olympic can. When the National Hockey League made the decision to not allow its players to participate in the Olympics for the first time since 1994, federations like USA Hockey were forced to dip deep into their player pool to create a roster consisting of players unknown to all but the most rabid hockey fans. But as one Olympic door closed on what experts believed would have been the most talented U.S. team ever assembled, it created an opportunity for another group of American athletes to realize a dream long since left for dead. " I l ove d t h e N H L p l ay e r s, b u t t h e r e 's s o m e - thing fresh about the format this time," said U.S. Head Coach Tony Granato, who played in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. "We're going to take advantage of that. We have to see how good we are." And that is very good news indeed for those players who were selected to compete in PyeongChang. "I think everyone can relate with the Olympics and the magnitude of the Olympics. The world stops to watch the Olympic Games. And to be able to be at that level representing your country, it's a dream come true," said Gionta, who was the top scorer for the U.S. in Torino, Italy. "I've been very fortunate throughout my career to be able to do that many times, but at no time does it lessen the effect of it. When you walk out of that tunnel with that jersey on, you still have that same feeling you had as a kid. And I'm loving the opportunity to be able to do it again, especially at my age." Gionta isn't the only member of the U.S. squad with NHL experience. In total, 15 on the 25-man roster have previously played in the show, including forwards Bobby B u t l e r, Jo h n Mc C a r t hy a n d Ji m S l a t e r along defensemen James Wisniewski, Bobby Sanguinetti and Matt Gilroy. The bulk of the roster features players who have found a home in European professional leagues, including Mark Arcobello who leads the Swiss League in scoring, and Kontinental Hockey League standouts Brian O'Neill and Ryan Stoa. Also named to the roster are four collegiate players including Harvard University's Ryan Donato, Troy The U.S. Dips Deep Into Its Talent Pool To Field An Unheralded Olympic Team To Take On The World The W by Harry Thompson Brian Gionta Ryan Stoa

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