Feb. 13, 2014
SOCHI (Gophersports.com) - Former Gopher Phil Kessel led the U.S. Men's Olympic team with three points in a 7-1 rout over Slovakia on Thursday as the men's preliminary round began at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Kessel tallied a goal and two assists in the opening game for the U.S., assisting on the Americans' first goal of the game in the first period before adding another helper and a goal of his own as the U.S. ended the contest with six unanswered goals in the second period.
"You have to do a lot of skating out there on the big ice, but I think we handled it all right," Kessel said after the game.
Through one game in Sochi, Kessel has now more than doubled his career Olympic totals to five points (two goals, three points). The forward had two points (one goal one assist) in six games at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver - his first appearance with the U.S. Olympic team.
Paul Martin of the Pittsburgh Penguins tied for a game-high 19:46 of time on ice on Thursday morning while Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets saw limited action for the U.S. in the opening game against Slovakia.
Meanwhile, Thomas Vanek had an assist in his Olympic debut as Austria fell 8-4 to Finland on Thursday morning.
Up Next: The U.S. returns to action on Saturday against host Russia (6:30 a.m. CT, NBC Sports Network) while Austria will follow later in the day against Canada (11 a.m. CT).
Gopher Hockey has a total of six representatives at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi including Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler and Paul Martin on the U.S. roster and Thomas Vanek on Austria's roster. Former Gopher and current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards is serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. men's team while Hobey Baker Award winner Robb Stauber is the goalie coach for the U.S. women.
Minnesota's four Olympians are tied for the most among college hockey programs at this year's Olympics while the Gophers' 54 all-time Olympians are by far the most in all of college hockey. The Gophers have a long-standing history of competition at the Winter Olympics with a representative at every Winter Olympics dating back to 1936.
Between Minnesota's men's and women's programs, the University of Minnesota has a total of 14 representatives in Sochi -- the most among any college or university in the NCAA.
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