Vancouver, BC – Growing up and playing high school hockey in Minnesota, Zach Parise dreamed of playing alongside center Mike Modano someday. Tonight, Parise’s dream will come true as the US takes on Finland in game 1 of the Olympic round robin tournament. The US, in the midst of a transition period, boasts a mix of quality veterans like Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin and Brian Rafalski as well as many players without Olympic experience such as Parise, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and Jack Johnson. Parise is expected to play the majority of his time alongside Modano and Brian Gionta, a line likely to get many minutes in the Olympic tournament. Head Coach, Ron Wilson has stated that he wants to mix in veterans on the other two lines with the US’s younger players. The US roster is full of speed, a quality generally preferred in international competition on Olympic-sized ice.
Coming in as a bit of an underdog, the US isn’t concerned that Canada and Russia have received the majority of the attention for this year’s Olympics. With a high-powered offense led by Modano and Parise and solid goaltending from Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller, the US’s only weakness may be on defense where the team lacks size and shots. The US defense does boast several good puck-moving dmen and Mike Komisarek and Jack Johnson are more than capable of holding their own zone.
“The key is going to be for us to stay focused and to get shots on net early,” stated Captain Mike Modano. “In a short tournament like this anything can happen and a lot of times it comes down to who has the hottest goalie. We know Timmy (Thomas) will be able to back us up and if not Ryan Miller is more than capable of taking over. He’s one of the best goaltenders in the league so I think we have a real chance of surprising a few countries.”
The US is hoping to improve upon their last Olympic outing which saw the country go 0-3-1 under Head Coach Joe Mullen’s leadership. They’ll get their chance tonight.