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Local hockey players go for gold in Sochi

by Kristyn Repke / Columbus Blue Jackets

Though not exactly known as a winter sports hotspot, Ohio has several athletes represented at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. There are local competitors represented in speed skating, curling, skeleton and ice hockey--all who were either born in or resided in Ohio. The majority of the athletes with Ohio ties will compete in ice hockey, including four Columbus Blue Jackets players (Sergei Bobrovsky, Fedor Tyutin, Artem Anisimov and Nikita Nikitin).

Two of the most notable local Ohio athletes will compete in women's ice hockey for Team USA: forward Kelli Stack and goaltender Brianne McLaughlin. Let's get to know a little bit about them:

Kelli Stack - USA - center
Kelli grew up in Brooklyn Heights and was born in Cleveland. She graduated high school from Cuyahoga Heights in 2006 and went on to play college hockey at Boston College. While at BC, she was a unanimous Hockey East First Team All-Star and All-Rookie Team selection her freshman year. She graduated as the Boston College's all-time leader in points (209), assists (111), power play goals (24), game-winning goals (22) and plus-minus rating (+112).

As a member of Team USA, she won silver at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and has represented her country at four IIHF World Championship tournaments, winning three gold medals (2008, 2009, 2011) and one silver (2012), competed at five Four-Nations Cups and skated in one IIHF Twelve Nations tournament.

Brianne McLaughlin - USA - goaltender
McLaughlin was born in Elyria and grew up in Sheffield Village. She was a member of the Ohio Flames AAA Girls' hockey club with teammate Kelli Stack. She graduated from Elyria Catholic High School in 2005 and attended Robert Morris University, where she set an NCAA record with 3,809 career saves.

In 2010, she was part of the silver medal-winning USA team at the Olympic Games in Vancouver. She has also represented the United States in three IIHF World Championship tournaments, including the gold medal-winning 2011 team, and at the 2009 Four Nations Cup.

There are also several other Olympians participating in ice hockey who studied and competed at Ohio universities:
  • Ryan Kesler (USA) played at Ohio State in 2002-03. That season, he finished fourth in scoring on OSU. He currently plays in the NHL for the Vancouver Canucks.
  • Natalie Spooner (CAN) played forward at Ohio State from 2008-12. Her senior year, she set the OSU single-season goal-scoring record and was named an NCAA All-American.
  • Emma (Laaksonen) Terho (FIN) played defense at Ohio State from 2000-04. She was inducted into OSU Women's Varsity "O" Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • Minttu Tuominen (FIN) played forward at Ohio State from 2009-13. She recorded 49 points at OSU, was a four-time OSU Scholar Athlete and was two-time Academic Big Ten athlete.
  • Ralfs Freibergs (LAT) is currently a sophomore at Bowling Green State University and is the only current NCAA hockey player competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
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