ANN ARBOR, MI - Four years ago the United States team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was young and inexperienced at the highest international level. The team named Wednesday by USA Hockey for the 2014 Sochi Olympics will not carry the same pre-tournament stigma.
Thirteen members of the silver-medal winning squad from Vancouver were named to the 25-man roster, which was announced at the 2014 NHL Winter Classic.
David Backes leads a group of five centers. Plover native Joe Pavelski was named to the team. Where all five center fit on the depth chart will be interesting to monitor. Paul Stastny, Ryan Kesler and Pavelski were all in Vancouver. Derek Stepan is the lone newcomer of the bunch.
Among the returnees are all of the players named as part of the "leadership group" by USA Hockey at the summer orientation camp: forwards David Backes, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan and Zach Parise, as well as defensman Ryan Suter. Also back is 2010 tournament MVP, goaltender Ryan Miller.
Suter will be the No. 1 defenseman for the Americans, and is a strong candidate to be among the tournament leaders in time on ice. The defense corps is the biggest area of turnover on the club. Only Suter and Brooks Orpik are returning.
The top players among the names not on the 25-man roster up are forwards Bobby Ryan, Brandon Dubinsky, Kyle Okposo and Jason Pominville. Ryan and Pominville are third and fourth in goals among American players this season with 18 and 17, while Okposo is second in points with 40. Dubinsky and Nick Bonino are the top centers who did not make it. Dustin Byfuglien and Keith Yandle, first and third among American-born defensemen, are not on the 25-man roster. Erik Johnson and Jack Johnson were both on the 2010 team, but are not returning.
MINOCQUA - You know summer in the Northwoods will soon be here when seasonal businesses start opening up again.
Wildwood Wildlife Park opened up Saturday in Minocqua.
Hundreds of people rushed to the gate today to see all different types of animals, some local and some exotic.
"We are so busy today but it's a beautiful day to come out to Wildwood," said the park's director Judy Domaszek. "This is one of our baby aoudads, it's an African sheep, and as you can see in the background there are many people busy playing with the baby goats, and the sheep and the pigs and the tortoises, and they're just enjoying their day."
On Saturday the park had a giraffe feeding.
Workers also have been renovating and expanding the park.
The park has many new animals on the way, including some baby animals that were born there.
"The mouflon sheep are new, we've got some new reptiles, we have some new babies that we're going to have down in the nursery in a little while," Domaszek said. "We actually had a baby badger born here at the zoo. And we have a baby kangaroo. Those guys are all coming down when it's safe to come down."
Wildwood is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Then after Memorial Day the park stays open till 5:30 p.m. for the summer.
NORTHWOODS - Prescription drugs play an important role in our health.
They help us recover if we're sick, cope if we have a chronic condition and help manage pain.
But those drugs can expire or just stay in the back of our medicine cabinets for months or years.
And if those drugs get into the wrong hands—such as toddlers or abusers—that's a problem.
That's why many local police and sheriff's departments participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back program.
It's run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Saturday was National Take-Back Day.
"We're keeping the controlled substances in the hands they're supposed to be in, especially with the pill epidemic now, it's important that these stay out of the hands of people that are abusing them," said Minocqua Police Officer Matthew Tate.
Several area police departments hosted drop-offs Saturday.
You can drop off prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications. You cannot bring in inhalers or aerosol cans, and you cannot drop off illegal drugs or needles.
All the drugs are brought to the state Department of Justice where they will be incinerated.
That's better than just flushing them or throwing them out in the trash.
"It's very important that it's not getting into our ground water is the main thing," Tate said. "We just don't want people dumping them in toilets or in their garbage."
If you have prescription drugs you want to get rid of safely, don't worry if you missed Saturday's opportunity. Many area police stations have drug drop-off bins in their lobbies, so you can drop them off any time of the year.
MINOCQUA - Lakeland and Antigo generally square off as rivals in Great Northern Conference competition. But on Friday, nearly a week removed from the prom shootings in Antigo, Lakeland wanted to show that it was on Antigo's side.
"It's hard to react to something like this, because you want to be concerned, and you want to help, but it's hard to know how to help," said Maggie Laurence, a Lakeland sophomore and Student Council member.
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