The 2022 United States Olympic Hockey Roster was announced Thursday afternoon, and we found out that three current Gophers and one Minnesota Gophers alum will be on the roster headed for Beijing. Junior forward Ben Meyers, sophomore defenseman Brock Faber, freshman forward Mathew Knies, and Minnesota alum defenseman Aaron Ness will all wear the red, white, and blue of Team USA.
The three current Gophers are expected to play in the final three series in January before leaving for a quick US team camp before heading to China. This will for sure miss the February 4th and 5th series at Michigan State, and the February 11th and 12th series at Ohio State. It’s possible if the US does not make the medal rounds, or is eliminated in the quarterfinals that the players could be back for the next series at Penn State, but that is extremely unlikely. Much more likely will be that the three current Gophers will return in time for the regular season finale at 3M Arena against Wisconsin on February 25th and 26th.
For most of February the Gophers will need to deal with missing their top two scorers and their best defenseman. Meyers leads the Gophers in points with 23 in just 20 games and is tied for the team lead in goals with 9. Knies is second on the team in points with 20, and has 7 goals on the season. Faber is the leading defensive points getter for the Gophers with 11 and has 20 blocks on the season.
Ness is a Roseau native who played three seasons for the Gophers from 2008-through 2011. In 141 career games Ness scored 43 points wearing the maroon and gold. He signed with the New York Islanders organization after his junior season and played 29 games in the NHL with the Islanders, 18 with the Washington Capitols, and 25 with the Arizona Coyotes. He has been an AHL mainstay in all three organizations as well. This season Ness was released from the Coyotes after one game and signed with the Providence Bruins in the AHL where in 25 games he has seven assists.
The four US men’s players with Gophers ties will join the eight current or former Gophers on the US Women’s Hockey Team in Beijing.
Fifteen NCAA players in total were added to the US squad with the three Gophers the most of any school. Big Ten foe Michigan had two players named in #2 NHL overall pick Matty Beniers and Brendan Brisson. The Wolverines also will be without two players who will be suiting up for Canada in Owen Power and Kent Johnson.
Other players with Minnesota ties on the team include New Brighton native, St. Cloud State forward and Minnesota Wild draftpick Sam Hentges, UMD forward Noah Cates of Stillwater, St. Cloud State defenseman Nick Perbix from Elk River and brother of Minnesota’s Jack Perbix, and Minnesota State forward Nathan Smith.
Men’s Olympic Hockey action kicks off on February 9th with the US playing their first game on February 10th at 7:10 AM central against China. They next hit the ice in a highly anticipated matchup against Canada at 10:10 PM on Friday February 11th, and complete group play against Germany at 7:10 AM on Sunday February 13th. Qualifying round games are held on the 14th and 15th with the quarterfinals on the 15th and 16th. Semifinals are the 17th and 18th with the medal games on the 19th of February.
Congrats to Ben, Brock, Mathew, and Aaron and the rest of Team USA and hopefully they can bring home a medal. We will have a full Minnesota Gophers related Olympic Preview as we near the start of the games in just over three weeks.