Feb. 24, 2014
SOCHI, Russia (Gophersports.com) -- Former Gopher and current Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel was named the best forward at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi Russia, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Sunday.
Kessel, who finished tied for the tournament's points lead with eight and the tournament's goal lead with five, was also selected to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games All-Star Team.
One of four Gopher Hockey alums to skate in Sochi, Kessel and the U.S. squad fell to Finland 5-0 in the bronze-medal game on Saturday to close out the competition. The forward was joined by fellow former Gophers Blake Wheeler and Paul Martin on the U.S. team. Wheeler played in all six games for Team USA and tallied one assist while Martin was a main-stay on the blue line for the squad until missing the final two game due to health reasons.
Thomas Vanek also represented the Gophers as a member of the Austrian National Team. The former Minnesota forward and current New York Islander had one assist in four games.
Gopher Hockey had 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 served as an assistant coach for the U.S. men's team while Hobey Baker Award winner Robb Stauber was the goalie coach for the U.S. women and helped the team earn a silver medal in Sochi.
Minnesota's four Olympians were 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 had a total of 14 representatives in Sochi -- the most among any college or university in the NCAA.
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