Collegians From The Olympics


This year’s Olympics had it all: upsets (Slovakia over Russia anyone?) great games (Gold medal game, duh) and great names (VIKINGSTAD!!!!). But it also had one other thing: proof that college hockey is legitimate. When Zach Parise dominated the WCHA his Freshman year, he still didn’t get drafted until the latter part of the first round.

Fast forward to 2010, where Parise was the best player on the team that took silver in the Olympics. The best forward period in the tournament was probably Jonathan Toews who, ironically, went to the same school that Parise did. Indeed, of the 6 players named to the all-tournament team, four of them played college hockey.

And, the goalie of the tournament (Ryan Miller), forward of the tournament (Toews) and defenseman of the tournament (Brian Rafalski) all played college hockey.

Indeed, this tournament had seemingly more collegians than ever before, and it wasn’t just limited to the United States. 16 players from the US team played at US colleges, and the team featured two Hobey winners (Ryan Miller, Michigan State; Chris Drury, Boston University). Three of the team’s top 4 scorers (Parise, Rafalski, Ryan Malone) were collegians, and 7 of the 8 leaders in +/- were collegians. Ryan Suter, who went to Wisconsin, led the entire tournament in that statistic with Jonathan Toews, who wasn’t on the ice for a goal against.

Tons of great players in the tournament either played in Europe or in major juniors, this is true. Roberto Luongo, who probably is the 2nd best goalie in the world at this point, played in juniors, and the best player in the world, Sidney Crosby, starred in the QMJHL. But over the course of this tournament, the best player on the best team played for two years in Grand Forks in the WCHA, and out of Canada’s 4 +/- leaders, three of them played college hockey (Toews, Duncan Keith, Dan Boyle). Not to mention Canadian Dany Heatley, who starred at Wisconsin, was tied for 6th in the tournament with four goals.

USA Hockey is definitely on the upswing. The country owns a U-18 title, World Junior title and an Olympic silver medal with the youngest team in the tournament. The NHL will no doubt benefit from a popularity spike, however small, off the results of this tournament. But there is a real argument to be made that the biggest winner from the past two weeks is college hockey.