The excitement surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics is heating up, and the focus for many fans has shifted to the rosters for Team USA’s men’s and women’s hockey teams.
With some of the biggest stars in the sport coming together to defend the Red, White and Blue, the patriotism that will flow from the United States should help carry the teams to a deep run toward gold medals.
Here are the rosters for the men’s and women’s national teams and the top players to watch on each squad.
Here is the full roster for the men's Olympic team:
|D||Cam Fowler||Anaheim Ducks|
|D||John Carlson||Washington Capitals|
|D||Paul Martin||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|D||Ryan Suter||Minnesota Wild|
|D||Kevin Shattenkirk||St. Louis Blues|
|D||Ryan McDonagh||New York Rangers|
|D||Brooks Orpik||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|D||Justin Faulk||Carolina Hurricanes|
|F||Joe Pavelski||San Jose Sharks|
|F||Zach Parise||Minnesota Wild|
|F||Derek Stepan||New York Rangers|
|F||Ryan Kesler||Vancouver Canucks|
|F||James van Riemsdyk||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|F||Dustin Brown||Los Angeles Kings|
|F||Ryan Callahan||New York Rangers|
|F||Paul Stastny||Colorado Avalanche|
|F||Blake Wheeler||Winnipeg Jets|
|F||David Backes||St. Louis Blues|
|F||Max Pacioretty||Montreal Canadiens|
|F||T. J. Oshie||St. Louis Blues|
|F||Phil Kessel||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|F||Patrick Kane||Chicago Blackhawks|
|G||Jonathan Quick||Los Angeles Kings|
|G||Jimmy Howard||Detroit Red Wings|
|G||Ryan Miller||Buffalo Sabres|
Here is the women's roster for the Sochi Games:
|G||Brianne McLaughlin||Robert Morris University|
|G||Molly Schaus||Boston College|
|G||Jessie Vetter||University of Wisconsin|
|D||Kacey Bellamy||University of New Hampshire|
|D||Megan Bozek||University of Minnesota|
|D||Gigi Marvin||University of Minnesota|
|D||Michelle Picard||Harvard University|
|D||Josephine Pucci||Harvard University|
|D||Anne Schleper||University of Minnesota|
|D||Lee Stecklein||University of Minnesota|
|F||Alex Carpenter||Boston College|
|F||Kendall Coyne||Northeastern University|
|F||Julie Chu||Harvard University|
|F||Brianna Decker||University of Wisconsin|
|F||Meghan Duggan||University of Wisconsin|
|F||Lyndsey Fry||Harvard University|
|F||Amanda Kessel||University of Minnesota|
|F||Hilary Knight||University of Wisconsin|
|F||Jocelyne Lamoureux||University of North Dakota|
|F||Monique Lamoureux||University of North Dakota|
|F||Kelli Stack||Boston College|
Men’s Star to Watch: Zach Parise, Forward
There are high expectations for the men’s roster in Sochi this winter, and the pressure of leading the national team will fall hardest on the shoulders of team captain and Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise.
Which United States team has the better chance of winning gold?
Parise is in his second year with the Wild. The veteran signed with Minnesota after leaving the New Jersey Devils via free agency and has done a great job to help rebuild the franchise into a contender using his leadership abilities on and off the ice.
Add in his elite play in both the defensive and offensive ends, and it’s clear that Team USA is in good hands with Parise as the captain.
International hockey is far less physical than the NHL’s style—no fighting and less checking with fewer grinders on the playing surface—and that gives a talented forechecker like Parise the green light to be aggressive without the fear of retribution.
With the captain acting as a defensive shadow to the best players in the world, the hopes of a gold medal for the men’s team are not too far-fetched.
Women’s Star to Watch: Meghan Duggan, Forward
While Parise has stolen headlines as the captain of the men’s team, it is forward Meghan Duggan who will lead the women’s team as it looks to bring home the gold medal for the first time since 1998.
The women have won two silver medals (2002 and 2010) and one bronze medal (2006) since the team’s first and only gold-medal performance. Duggan wants to end that streak this year and bring honor back to the women’s national team.
Duggan is one of the best two-way forwards in the world, and her ability to keep the opposition’s top players from making an impact on a game is one of her biggest strengths.
While the competition this year is bound to be as fierce as ever, Team USA’s women are ready with a tenacious star like Duggan leading the charge offensively, defensively and emotionally.