Minnesota to be well-represented at Olympics

Betsy Helfand

The University of Minnesota will be well-represented in at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi this February. USA Hockey announced the women's team during the second intermission of the NHL Winter Classic on Wednesday and the men's team following the conclusion of the game.

Former Gophers men's hockey players Paul Martin, Blake Wheeler and Phil Kessel were named to Team USA. Seven more players with ties to Minnesota will also be on the team: defensemen Justin Faulk (South St. Paul, Minn.), Ryan McDonagh (St. Paul, Minn.) and Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild) and forwards David Backes (Minneapolis, Minn.), T.J. Oshie (Warroad, Minn.), Zach Parise (Minneapolis, Minn.) and Derek Stepan (Hastings, Minn.). 

Martin, a defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins, played at Minnesota from 2000-03 and helped the Gophers win back-to-back national championships in 2002 and 2003. 

Wheeler, a Plymouth, Minn. native, is a forward for the Winnipeg Jets. He played at Minnesota from 2006-2008 before departing for the NHL. 

Kessel, a Madison, Wis. native, played for the Gophers in 2005-06 and was named to the team for the second time. Kessel was a member of the 2010 team that won a silver medal in Vancouver. Kessel, a forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs, had a goal and an assist in six games during the 2010 Olympics.

His younger sister, Amanda, will be participating in her first Olympics. As a junior last season, Amanda Kessel led the NCAA in scoring with 101 points. She was just the fourth player in NCAA history to record 100 points in a season and was rewarded with the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which is given to the NCAA's top women's hockey player. Kessel has been injured, but head coach Katey Stone told reporters she expects the forward to be fully healthy by the time the Olympics start. 

Lee Stecklein, Megan Bozek, Anne Schleper and Gigi Marvin join Kessel on the USA women's hockey Olympic roster.

Stecklein, a defenseman from Roseville, Minn., was a freshman last year at Minnesota. She appeared in all 41 games for the undefeated Gophers, and she recorded three goals and nine assists on the season. 

Bozek, also a defenseman, hails from Buffalo Grove, Ill. Last year, as a senior, she was a co-captain on the NCAA championship winning team, a First Team All-American and a Patty Kazmaier Award Top-3 Finalist. Her 57 points last season were the most by a defenseman in school history. 

Schleper played for the Gophers from 2008-12. The defenseman from St. Cloud, Minn. set a school record with 159 career games played. She was a significant part of the 2011-12 team that won a national championship.

Marvin, a Warroad, Minn. native, played for Minnesota from 2005-09. She was part of the 2010 Olympic team that won a silver medal in Vancouver. Marvin was a prolific scorer for the Gophers as a forward but has since made the transition to defenseman. 

Five members of last year's NCAA championship team will play in Sochi. Kessel, Bozek and Stecklein will represent Team USA while defenseman Mira Jalosuo and goaltender Noora Räty will compete for Finland.

The 2014 Olympics will begin on Feb. 7 and run until Feb. 23. The women's team will begin its tournament run on Feb. 8 against Finland. The men will begin on Feb. 13 against Slovakia.