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.
RHINELANDER - A snow storm caught Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander off guard last weekend and collapsed a greenhouse. Now that spring weather is here, Hanson's is ready to move forward by making some adjustments. "We got by for 25 years doing what we were doing," said Hanson's Garden Village Co-owner Brent Hanson. Last weekend's spring snow storm set back Hanson's. "We thought we were ahead of schedule having that greenhouse nice and filled," said Hanson's Manager Beth Hanson.
"One bad storm and there you go. Things happen," said Brent. The storm collapsed a greenhouse holding thousands of plants. "For years we've gotten by with these lighter cheaper green houses," said Brent. "We'll be down a greenhouse for a little bit here," said Beth. Now Hanson's will only use sturdier and solid greenhouses so that collapses don't become a pattern.
RHINELANDER - Oneida County needs more foster care homes. Right now, there are nine licensed foster homes in the area, most of which are full according to the county's social services department.
Foster Care Coordinator Rachel Nelson says that in Oneida County there are 24 children currently living in foster homes. The department participated in a statewide foster care recruitment project last fall, and discovered just how great the need is.
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