MONTREAL - It may not be directly attached to the rest of the United States, but when it comes to scouring the country for Olympic hopefuls, Team USA isn’t about to forget the 49th state, or proud Alaskan Scott Gomez
After headlining a blockbuster trade that brought him to Montreal from the Rangers this June, Gomez is currently in the midst of another whirlwind summer adventure. Joining 33 of his fellow countrymen at the Team USA Olympic orientation camp in Illinois this week, Gomez is taking his first step towards donning the stars and stripes in Vancouver this February.
When it comes to representing the States on the international stage, Gomez has plenty of experience on his C.V. The playmaking center is one of only a handful of players at camp with Olympic pedigrees to call upon, joining fellow Team USA veterans Mike Modano, Chris Drury, Brian Rafalski and Jamie Langenbrunner. Leaning towards a youth movement for the upcoming Games, 70 percent of the US’ camp invitees are under 24 years old and would be getting their first taste of the Olympics in 2010.
In Turin, Italy in 2006, Gomez suited up for six games and picked up a goal and four assists to tie Craig Conroy for the U.S. lead in points in the tournament.
There won’t be any cuts made at this preliminary camp, but American head coach Ron Wilson is banking on some unity, bonding and early chemistry forming over the next few days.
That could explain the lax schedule the players are facing this week. With only one hour slated on the ice per day and all hockey related matters limited to the morning, the afternoons are wide open for the players to get know each other and hang out as a group.
Armed with his from the hip demeanor and wise-cracking sense of humor, Gomez should have little trouble blending in. Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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