International Ice Hockey Federation

Americans aim high

Americans aim high

Can youngsters surprise in Minsk?

Published 09.05.2014 09:50 GMT+3 | Author John Sanful
Americans aim high
Youngsters like Jacob Trouba and Seth Jones will be in the focus on Team USA. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
After an Olympic letdown, the U.S: look to regroup. Though not the star-studded roster that competed in Sochi, Team USA is still a capable team that can shine.

A mix of emerging young skaters and veterans, the American entry possesses the talent that can make it to the playoff round. The majority of the USA players were developed through the college hockey system. 17 of the 22 players came through college. Seven were produced through the much-heralded U.S. National Team Development Program.


Of the three goaltenders named to the team, Tim Thomas brings the most experience to the table. After starring for the University of Vermont, Thomas improved his craft playing in Finland before finally having the chance to star in the NHL for the Boston Bruins. Thomas came out of retirement in 2013/2014 to play for the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars. The 40-year-old Thomas is joined by David Leggio and Connor Hellebuyck. The Americans will no doubt benefit from the veteran leadership that Thomas brings.


Team USA’s defence is young but this group is nonetheless very talented. Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba are players who project to be NHL stars in the very near future. Jones was touted as a potential number one overall selection in the 2013 NHL entry draft. While he went fourth in the Nashville Predators, Jones is still one of the top talents produced by the American hockey system. Jacob Trouba joined Team USA at the 2013 World Championships and showed his exceptional talent on the senior men’s world stage. Danny DeKeyser is a big addition to the team both in size and talent. Connor Murphy, Jeff Petry and Jake Gardiner round out a defensive corps that has significant depth.

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NHL Rookie of the Year and Spokane, Washington native Tyler Johnson should be a difference maker. Johnson earned a spot on the Tampa Bay Lightning this season and never looked back. NCAA star Johnny Gaudreau, otherwise known as “Johnny Hockey”, should be a player to watch. After a sublime season playing for Boston College, Gaudreau signed a contract with the Calgary Flames, and scored in his first and only NHL game to date. Big things are expected from Gaudreau.

If there is a World Championship confidence bump, Craig Smith was a recipient. Smith scored 14 points in ten games at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, leading Team USA to the bronze medal. Since then, he’s coming off his best pro season with 52 points and 24 goals for the Nashville Predators. There is tremendous depth on the American team, including Colin McDonald and Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders; Justin Abdelkader, Vincent Trocheck, Tommy Wingels, and Andy Miele.


Peter Laviolette coached Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2004 World Championship in the Czech Republic. In fact, the coaching group is impressive and quite capable. Laviolette’s reputation is that he is offensive minded and works well with young players. Assistant Joe Sacco was the head coach of the squad that won bronze last year in Stockholm while Phil Housley coached the U20 team to 2013 gold and was an assistant on Sacco’s bench last May at the senior World Championships. In all, a very impressive core of coaches. Once the tournament is over, Laviolette will take over the Nashville Predators; Housley will join him as an assistant coach.

Projected Results

There are elements of this American team that are hopeful. Youth, international junior experience by quite a few players; strongly qualified coaches all make for a very exciting group competing in Minsk. Chances are, the Americans have what it takes to finish among the top two or three in their group. Once in the playoff round, Team USA will have to pull on the chemistry developed across the tournament if there is a chance of repeating a medal run.


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