Ice Hockey / U.S. banks on young bucks
The United States named a young hockey squad including 20 Olympic rookies on Friday, hoping an injection of fresh blood will lead to a successful assault on a gold medal at next month's 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
Only three players with Olympic experience - Chris Drury, Brian Rafalski and Jamie Langenbrunner - were called up by Team USA general manager Brian Burke, who announced the squad on the ice at Fenway Park moments after the NHL's third Winter Classic. The remainder of the squad will get their first taste of the Olympic pressure cooker when they open against Switzerland on February 16.
"We tried to pick the team based on the body of work," Burke told reporters. "We stressed character and tried to identify people who can rise to the occasion. We have no bold predictions but we're going there win."
Burke's squad selection signals a turning of the page within U.S. hockey as long-time stalwarts of the national team such as Mike Modano, Scott Gomez, Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk were all replaced by younger charges.
The roster includes the current top three American scorers in the NHL - Chicago's Patrick Kane, New Jersey's Zach Parise and Colorado's Paul Stastny - along with Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter, son of 1980 "Miracle on Ice" defenseman Bob Suter.
Goaltending should be one of Team USA's strengths, with Buffalo's Ryan Miller and Boston's Tim Thomas (last season's Vezina trophy winner as the NHL's top netminder) expected to fight for the starting assignment.
Marco Sturm celebrated the New Year in style by firing the overtime winner as the Boston Bruins rallied to claim a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers and cap a thrilling Winter Classic on Friday. Sturm, who has been included in Germany's squad for February's Vancouver Olympics, redirected a shot from Patrice Bergeron past netminder Michael Leighton at a packed Fenway Park, better known as the home of the Boston Red Sox.
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