Jake Sanderson felt bad that he would be missing out on a handful of games in North Dakota to play in the Olympics.
When he expressed that sentiment to his college mates and coaches, the star defenseman was greeted with support. It was already an easy option for Sanderson to suit up to the United States in Beijing, and it made it even easier.
“It was kind of a no-brainer,” They said. “It’s something you really can’t pass up. This is the Olympics. You don’t know if you’ll ever be able to play in the Olympics in your lifetime.”
After the NHL decided to withdraw from the 2022 Games, the opportunity of a lifetime suddenly became available to Owen Powers and Matty Benniers of Sanderson, Michigan, and USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, along with other US college players, for top talent. Eyeing the NCAA. Fill their roster. College players who decided to drop out of school for a few weeks to go to Beijing can’t look any further than the 2018 Olympics for some strong evidence. “Yes” column.
Troy Terry of Anaheim, Jordan Greenway of Minnesota and Ryan Donato of Seattle all skated for the US in Pyeongchang on a team composed mostly of older professionals playing in Europe. They have since combined to play in 611 NHL games.
The top two NHL picks in 2021 – the Powers, who previously went to Buffalo, and the Benears, who went to Seattle – have each been invited to play for Canada and the US, respectively. Michigan teammates Brendan Bryson (US) and Kent Johnson (Canada) are also Olympic candidates.
US general manager John VanBiesbruck and coach David Quinn believed the Olympic experience was a strong selling point, even with the pandemic and college duties in mind.
An additional impetus is that last month the World Junior Championships was canceled over fears of the virus outbreak, and the Olympics could have worked somewhat for that tournament for many players under the age of 20.
Mel Pearson, who has been coaching Michigan with a powerhouse roster and a legitimate shot at a national championship, has told players he supports going to the Olympics.
“Opportunities like these, they don’t often come along,” Pearson told reporters last weekend. “We will fully support him and look forward to getting him back once he reaches home with the medal.”
More Associated Press Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports