Olympic hockey camp filled with Minnesotans thrilled to be there

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 28, 2013 - 12:55 AM

The State of Hockey is providing a big share of present and future contenders for the U.S. Olympic hockey team.

hide

Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, left, a member of the 2013 USA Hockey men’s team, shook hands with a member of the USA Warriors, the national sled hockey team, in Arlington, Va.

Photo: Susan Walsh • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

– Wearing a dark blue jersey with the No. 42 on the back and a red, white and blue USA crest on the front, David Backes couldn’t contain his pride in being one of 48 players who unveiled the 2014 USA Olympic sweaters Tuesday.

“Just being on a second Olympic team, those words coming out of my mouth give me chills,” said Backes, the former Spring Lake Park High and Minnesota State Mankato standout. “First Olympic team in 2010, I was flabbergasted, to be honest with you. Being on a second Olympic team blows my mind. It’s so humbling.”

Backes, the captain of the St. Louis Blues, is one of 14 Minnesota-born players who spent the past three days at the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey orientation camp.

The number of Minnesotans was double the next highest state, Michigan, with seven. U.S. assistant coach Todd Richards, the former Wild coach who now coaches Columbus, says there was an undeniable pride Sunday night when players introduced themselves at the team hotel.

In fact, it seemed every other player introduced during Tuesday’s jersey ceremony was from the self-described State of Hockey.

“Obviously, we’re representing the USA, but when you heard the names, there’s a lot of pride that comes out of the state of Minnesota,” said Richards, the former Gophers defenseman and native of Crystal. “It’s what every Minnesotan takes pride in. We’re a hockey state. To have 14 guys here, that says a lot.”

The Wild’s Zach Parise is not only the most famous, but he’s also a role model for a lot of the young Minnesotans. Ask Parise which players he looked up to as a young U.S. hockey player at his first Olympic camp in 2006, and he utters names such as Bill Guerin, Chris Drury, Mike Modano and Keith Tkachuk.

None is from Minnesota. Ask the young Minnesotans at this camp, and one after another says Parise.

“It’s a cool feeling,” a blushing Parise said.

Other Minnesotans in camp were defensemen Dustin Byfuglien, Justin Faulk, Jake Gardiner, Erik Johnson, Nick Leddy, Paul Martin and Ryan McDonagh; and forwards Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie, Derek Stepan and Blake Wheeler.

Martin, a native of Elk River, a former national champion with the Gophers and a Pittsburgh Penguins veteran, badly wants to make the 2014 team. In 2006, he and former Wild center Matt Cullen were members of the U.S. taxi squad in Torino, Italy. But they didn’t stay in the Olympic Village, didn’t get in a game and weren’t part of most team activities.

In 2010, Martin was a lock to make the U.S. team in Vancouver until a broken forearm ruined his Olympic dream.

“That’s been my biggest disappointment as an athlete to this point,” Martin said. “It took a long time for me to accept the fact that I wasn’t going. It was fun to watch. The guys did great. Selfishly, I wish I could have been there. I think that makes this opportunity that much more special for me just being able to hopefully get a chance to finally play a game.”

This is also a dream for Richards, who was cut from the 1988 Olympic team.

“As a kid growing up in Minnesota, you always dream of the Olympics,” Richards said. “The progression back when I played was high school, college for a couple years and then the Olympics. And I didn’t make the team. So I lost that opportunity. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get another opportunity.”

The 2013-14 season will be, for about half the players at the camp, “a tryout,”as Gardiner called it. So a youngster like Stepan, a Rangers forward, must prove himself, although the Hastings native has a tremendous shot because center is the one position where the U.S. lacks depth. Then there are young puck-moving defensemen such as Minnetonka’s Gardiner and Eden Prairie’s Leddy.

On the international ice sheet — 15 feet wider than an NHL rink — skating “is more at a premium, so I think that suits Jake’s game perfectly,” said forward James van Riemsdyk, a Minnesota resident who is Gardiner’s camp roommate and Toronto Maple Leafs teammate.

  • related content

  • Russo: Projecting the 2014 U.S. Olympic men's hockey roster

    Tuesday August 27, 2013

    The U.S. Olympic men's orientation camp came to a close today with the unveiling of the 2014 sweaters

  • Parises have twins on the way

    Tuesday August 27, 2013

    Like Joe Mauer last month, the Wild star will become a father for the first time -- and to twins.

  • Wild announces TV schedule

    Tuesday August 27, 2013

    The team will have 70 games on FSN or FSN+, and the remaining 12 on NBCSN.

  • Dustin Byfuglien, a native Minnesotan who play for the Winnipeg Jets, modeled the new 2014 USA Olympic sweater.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close