The 2014 Olympics are right around the corner, and a great deal of excitement is surrounding both the men's and women's squads from Team USA.
The men will look to capture their first gold medal since 1980's Miracle on Ice. The women were able to come away with the gold in 1998 and are looking to duplicate that performance. Both teams came away with silver medals in 2010 and will be looking for redemption. They feature star-studded casts and look to be set up for success.
Let's take a look at players from each squad who are sure to impress this year in Sochi.
The Minnesota Wild left wing and alternate captain was named Team USA captain for the Olympics this year in Sochi, according to a report from Kevin Allen of USA Today. U.S. coach Dan Bylsma explained why Parise was his choice for the position:
When it comes to a captaincy, you are looking for people who embody who you are and how you want to play. I can't think of a better group or better captain than Zach Parise to lead our team. Every time we have played against Zach Parise, there was a work ethic that never quits, a determination, an abrasiveness about being hard to play against.
Now that Parise is healthy, he has been playing some of his best hockey of the season. It is certainly coming at the right time. Over his last three games, Parise has totaled three goals and five assists for a total of eight points.
Look for Parise to continue his hot streak once his team gets going in Sochi.
Another member of the Wild, Suter has been fantastic on the defensive side this season and will be counted upon heavily in this year's Olympics.
Suter is ranked 42nd in the league with 92 blocked shots on the season. However, that is not where his production ends. He has also accounted for six goals and 27 assists, giving him a total of 33 points thus far.
He will certainly be relied upon to keep the puck down on his opponent's end of the ice.
During an interview with Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo! Sports, Suter recalls the 2010 Olympics and how he has learned from the experience:
I think that a lot of us have played together before. I think 80 percent of the team was on the last Olympic team. I think we all know what to expect now. We have been to the Olympics, we have been to that stage. We were lucky enough to play in the gold medal game in Vancouver and we learned a lot from that. I think playing in Sochi is going to be a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to the challenge.
Bozek, a right-handed defender, spent four years playing for the University of Minnesota. There, she earned a reputation as a shooter despite her position on defense. When her collegiate tenure came to a close, she had racked up 47 goals, 10 game-winners and 99 assists in 157 games.
During an interview with Ross Forman of the Daily Herald, Bozek explained the surreal feeling of being named to the Olympic team:
I think it hit me (on New Year's Day), putting on that Olympic jersey for the first time, standing there with my teammates and getting announced to the public. What an honor and such an awesome feeling, putting on a jersey to represent your country for an Olympic Games and potentially win a gold medal. It was incredible.
With her versatility as a stout defender and her ability to do damage on the offensive end as well, Bozek looks poised to put on a stellar showing this year in Sochi.
Duggan, a right-handed forward, played college hockey at the University of Wisconsin. While there, she became the school's all-time leading scorer with 108 goals, 130 assists and a plus-164 rating in 159 career games.
She was a part of the women's team in Vancouver that took home the silver medal back in 2010. During her five games played in Vancouver, Duggan scored a total of four goals.
This time around, the Boston Blades forward has experience under her belt and will be relied upon to create scoring opportunities for Team USA.
Christopher Hurley of WickedLocal.com interviewed Duggan about what she expects in Sochi: "I'm stoked. We're ready to go. We've just got a couple things to fine tune, other than that we're on the right path. We're peaking at the right time, and are so excited to head over there."
Duggan also spoke briefly about her selection as team captain: "It's an honor, obviously. It's a great group of girls and we all work together. It's an easy team to lead because everyone works so hard."
Duggan and the rest of the squad will have to work extra hard, as another showdown with rival Canada seems inevitable.