NCAA talent set to return to Olympic ice for USA

NCAA talent set to return to Olympic ice for USA

Quad split of USA hockey players

The NCAA has not been represented on a U.S. men’s Olympic hockey roster since Team USA came away with just a single win at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics. That was before the NHL commandeered Olympic rosters beginning in 1998.  

With the NHL electing to stay home this February, the following four undergrads were named to the U.S. roster and will attempt to come home with an Olympic medal after the U.S. suffered a harsh bronze medal game beating at the hands of Finland in Sochi.

Ryan Donato | F – Harvard University

Ryan Donato has more or less mirrored the footsteps of his hockey-playing father Ted Donato. Just like his old man, Ryan plays his college hockey at Harvard – where his father Ted serves as his head coach.

When Ryan was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 2014 NHL Draft, history repeated itself, as his father Ted was picked up by the Bruins in his heyday back in 1987.

As a kid, Ryan was a fixture in NHL rinks and locker rooms when his family traveled along with his father. Ryan and other players’ kids, including 2018 U.S. Olympic teammate Chris Bourque – son of Ray Bourque – were known to skip out on watching their dads’ games, opting instead to face off in the corridors of NHL arenas playing street hockey.

This year Ryan will replicate one more of his father’s hockey milestones with a trip to the Olympics to play for Team USA. Ted played on the 1992 Albertville roster, scoring four goals and three assists, alongside current USA Hockey GM Jim Johannson, where the U.S. finished just off the podium in fourth.

Jordan Greenway | F – Boston University

Jordan Greenway is a 6-foot-5-inch power forward with a big shot. He is also known to be swift on his skates despite his 220 pound frame. Greenway will celebrate his 21st birthday in PyeongChang on February 16, the same day the U.S. men are scheduled to meet Slovakia in preliminary round competition.

Greenway, a second round draft pick by the Minnesota Wild in the 2015 NHL Draft, had a busy 2016-17 season with Team USA. In January, he won gold at the 2017 World Junior Championships. In May, he was back in a U.S. hockey sweater at the 2017 World Championships, alongside current NHL players. Greenway impressed at World Juniors as a top-three scorer for Team USA with three goals and five assists, but as one of three NCAA standouts at the World Championships, he was allotted just over 30 minutes on the ice in eight games where he logged just three shots on goal.

Greenway’s hockey future started to take shape when he left home in the eighth grade to attend the storied hockey prep school, Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minnesota; the same prep school once attended by NHL stars Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Nathan MacKinnon.

After graduating from Shattuck’s in 2013, Greenway became a fixture on USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program junior rosters, playing in over 150 games. In 2015, he joined the men’s hockey roster at Boston University as a new NHL draftee.

In the summer of 2017, when faced with the decision to return to BU – with a chance to play in his first Olympics after the NHL decided to pass on PyeongChang in April – or sign his first NHL contract with the Wild, Greenway chose the former. It was a decision that paid off. In being named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, Greenway will become the first African-American to ever lace up in an Olympic Games for Team USA.

Troy Terry | F – University of Denver

Get ready to hear the name Troy Terry and the word “shootout” repeatedly mentioned in the same breathe as the Olympics in PyeongChang draw near. “Five-hole Troy” was the nickname his teammates gave him after discovering his penchant for going between a goalie’s legs to get to the net. It is a tactic that may have landed Terry’s name on the list of potential NHL-player replacements when USA Hockey began collecting data on a new crop of Olympians for 2018.

The shootout, according to some hockey fans, is a necessary (or unnecessary) evil incapable of fairly determining the best team in a tie game. At the 2017 World Juniors it worked to Terry’s and Team USA’s advantage, not once, but twice. Terry scored three-straight shootout goals for the U.S., including the game winner, against Russia in their semifinal meeting. 

The very next night, playing Canada for the gold medal, Terry was again called upon when an overtime period wasn’t enough to end the game. Shooting forth in the U.S. order, Terry snuck the puck past Canada’s Carter Hart – five hole, yet again – for the lone and golden goal.

Growing up just outside Denver, Colorado, Terry got some early coaching from two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Joe Sakic. During the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Sakic decided to coach his son’s youth hockey team. Terry, then a 7-years-old rookie, was also on the team. 

Terry’s NHL-caliber tutelage didn’t end there. Pierre Turgeon and Adam Foote both coached Terry at various stages of his hockey development in Colorado after ending their NHL careers with the Avalanche.

That early hockey training certainly helped, because in 2015, Terry was selected in the fifth round of the NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, just months before his freshman season at the University of Denver.

With Denver ranked first in the nation in his sophomore season, Terry and his teammates won the 2017 Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship, beating the University of Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2 in the final of the Frozen Four. That year Terry put up 22 goals and 23 assists in 35 games for the Pioneers.

Will Borgen | D – St. Cloud State University

Originally from Moorhead, Minnesota, Will Borgen got his start on skates when he was three years old. On a ski trip with his mom and dad, Borgen was sent to the ice rink instead of the slopes, which were deemed too dangerous by his parents. 

From the first time he got a stick in his hands, Borgen fell in love with hockey, but a freak accident in high school nearly ended it all. Playing in a tournament, a skate glanced the right side of his neck as he went to his knees after making a hit. According to Borgen, “It wasn’t bad.” One look at the scar on his neck, or taking a scroll through his Instagram (Warning: Graphic photo of injury) may tell you otherwise.

Today, standing 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing roughly 200 pounds, Will Borgen brings what some have called a “rugged” style of play to Team USA. The defensive-minded defenseman currently playing in his third season with the St. Cloud State Huskies, leads the team in penalty minutes with 39 over the course of 17 games.  

“He doesn’t wow you with points, but his biggest physical skill is his quick feet, St. Cloud State assistant coach Mike Gibbons explained to the St. Cloud Times. 

“If a forward gets half a step on most defensemen, it’s a breakaway. Will’s going to track him down.

Borgen, selected by the Buffalo Sabres in fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft, was surprised when he got the call from USA Hockey informing him he was headed for the Olympics in February, but he will have some familiar company with him. Borgen and Ryan Donato spent time together playing in the USHL for the Omaha Lancers, a top-tier junior league in the U.S. Also on the U.S. Olympic men’s team is SCSU alum, Garrett Roe, who played for the Huskies from 2007-11.

NBC4i.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s