Wednesday, December 30, 2009
GLENDALE, ARIZONA ---
Phoenix Coyotes defensemen Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic) and Sami Lepisto (Finland) will each represent his country in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Michalek, 27, will be appearing in the Olympics for the first time. He represented the Czech Republic at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship in 2006, 2007 and 2008, winning a silver medal in 2006.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Michalek has recorded 2-7-9 and 10 penalty minutes (PIM) in 32 games with the Coyotes this season. He also ranks 2nd on the team in average ice time (23:17) and plus/minus (+10) and is in his first season as an alternate captain for the Coyotes. Last season, Michalek, a native of Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech Republic, led the NHL in blocked shots with 271 while appearing in all 82 games and collecting 6-21-27 and 28 PIM. Michalek played in all 82 games in three of his first four full NHL seasons.
Michalek, now in his fifth season with the Coyotes, has appeared in 375 career NHL games with Minnesota and Phoenix, recording 26-81-107 and 172 PIM. He also played parts of three seasons with Houston of the American Hockey League (AHL) where he was a member of the 2003 Calder Cup Championship team. Michalek was acquired by the Coyotes from Minnesota in exchange for Erik Westrum and Dustin Wood on Aug. 26, 2005.
Lepisto, 25, will also be participating in the Olympics for the first time. He represented Finland at the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championship where he was named the tournament’s Best Defensemen while leading Finland to a bronze medal. He also played for Finland at the 2008 IIHF World Championship.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Lepisto has registered five assists and 28 PIM in 35 games with the Coyotes this season, all of which are career-highs. Last season, Lepisto recorded four assists in seven games with the Washington Capitals. He also appeared in 70 games with Hershey of the AHL where he registered 4-38-42 to lead all Hershey defensemen in scoring. His 42 points ranked T-11th among all AHL defensemen.
In 49 career NHL games with Washington and Phoenix, Lepisto has registered 10 assists and 46 PIM. Prior to coming to North America for the 2007-08 season, Lepisto played four seasons of professional hockey in Finland for Jokerit. Lepisto was originally selected by Washington in the third round (66th overall) of the 2004 Entry Draft and was acquired by the Coyotes from the Capitals in exchange for a fifth round draft choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.