Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, a former University of Maine standout, was one of three goalies named Wednesday for the U.S. men’s hockey team for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Howard, 29, is not having the best season of his NHL career, and could be the U.S. team’s third goalie behind Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres and Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings.
He has missed three weeks of the season due to a sprained left medial collateral ligament in his knee and returned for his first game on Monday, a 6-4 loss to Nashville.
Entering Wednesday’s game, Howard had a 6-9-7 record this season with a .906 save percentage and 2.76 goals against average. He has been the team’s starting goalie since 2009-10 and has a career record of 137-76-33 with a .917 save percentage, 2.40 GAA and 18 shutouts.
Howard, a 2012 NHL All-Star has represented his country three times previously: the Under-18 World Championships, the World Junior Championships and the World Championships.
At UMaine, Howard was named an All-American in 2004 and was also named to the Hockey East first team, selected the Hockey East top goalie, and the Hockey East tourney MVP in 2004. He led the Black Bears to a berth in the NCAA title game that year against Minnesota. He was also named All-New England and that season.
Howard holds NCAA records for goals against average in a season at 1.19 in 2003–04 and best save percentage with a .956 mark also in 2003–04.
He set a school record with 63 saves in a triple overtime victory against UMass in the 2004 Hockey East title game. He holds Maine records for career shutouts with 15 and single season shutouts with six. He is currently the starting goalie for the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL.
The U.S. team’s 25-man roster was finalized and announced after the NHL’s Winter Classic game in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Miller, the most valuable player at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, and Stanley Cup MVP Patrick Kane will lead the team’s quest for a gold medal.
The U.S. roster includes 13 Olympians, who lost to Canada in the gold medal final four years ago on Sidney Crosby’s overtime winner, and U.S. general manager David Poile says the team heads to Russia targeting top spot on the podium.
Certainly the U.S. will enjoy a huge bump in experience in Sochi with Miller, Chicago Blackhawks sniper Kane and Minnesota Wild defenceman Ryan Suter, a Norris trophy finalist last season, anchoring the squad.
In Vancouver, the American team featured just three players with Olympic experience.
“We went through a very thorough process to get to today and could not be happier with the team we’ve selected,” Poile, general manager of the Nashville Predators, told reporters. “We’re fortunate to have probably the deepest talent pool we’ve ever had in our country and that made for some very difficult decisions.
“In the end, however, we’re confident we’ve selected a group of players that puts us in the best position to have success in Sochi.”
The announcement was made following the NHL’s outdoor Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings with kids called out onto the ice in front of over 100,000 roaring fans wearing a Team USA sweater bearing the name of each member of the squad.
The Americans will be grouped with Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia in the preliminary round of the Games in Sochi. Their first game will be Feb. 13 against Slovakia.
The squad: Goalies: Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings); Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres); Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings); Defense: John Carlson (Washington Capitals); Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes); Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks); Paul Martin (Pittsburgh Penguins); Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers); Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh Penguins); Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis Blues); Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild); Forwards: David Backes (St. Louis Blues); Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings); Ryan Callahan (New York Rangers); Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks); Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks); Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs); T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues); Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens); Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild); Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks); Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche); Derek Stepan (New York Rangers); James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs); Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg Jets).
The U.S. women’s ice hockey team was also named and veteran forward Julie Chu headlines the roster for the Sochi Olympics.
Chu, named to her fourth Winter Games squad, will be one of 11 returning Olympians as the U.S. looks to avenge a loss to Canada in the gold medal final at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
All 21 U.S. team members are world champions.
Women’s ice hockey joined the Olympic program in 1998 Nagano Winter Games, the U.S. claiming the first gold medal but Canada has swept the top spot the last three Olympic tournaments.
The U.S. and Canada, who between them have won every Olympic gold medal and every world championship, remain women’s ice hockey super powers and bitter rivals, two of their pre-Sochi meetings ending in brawls.
The Americans open Olympic play on Feb. 8 against Finland.
Women’s team: goalies: Brianne McLaughlin; Molly Schaus; Jessie Vetter; defense: Kacey Bellamy; Megan Bozek; Gigi Marvin; Michelle Picard; Josephine Pucci; Anne Schleper; Lee Stecklein; and forwards: Alex Carpenter; Kendall Coyne; Julie Chu; Brianna Decker; Meghan Duggan; Lyndsey Fry; Amanda Kessel; Hilary Knight; Jocelyne Lamoureux; Monique Lamoureux; Kelli Stack