Five Minnesota Wild players have been named to their country’s roster for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Today, Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund were named to Finland’s roster. Forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter were named to Team USA on Jan. 1, and forward Nino Niederreiter was named to Switzerland’s roster on Jan. 6.
This will be Koivu’s third time representing Finland at the Olympics. He skated in eight games in 2006 as Finland captured the Silver Medal and tallied four assists in six games in 2010 as Finland earned a Bronze Medal.
“Representing your country is huge. We’re very proud about that as a team and as individuals,” Koivu told Wild.com. “I’ve had a chance to do that twice now, it’s a lot different than any other tournament. All the traditions about it and everything around it is just a cool atmosphere.”
Parise and Suter both served as alternate captains and won Silver during the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Parise tallied eight points (4-4=8) in six games and ranked tied for third in the tournament in scoring, including the game-tying goal with 24.4 seconds remaining to send the Gold Medal Game against Canada into overtime. Suter recorded four assists in six games, tied for first on the team in assists and tied for the tournament lead with a plus-9 rating.
“The biggest thing is just the stage,” Suter said. “You don’t really appreciate the Olympics until you’re there, until you’re a part of it.
“It was an amazing experience. It was the best hockey I've ever been a part of competition-wise.”
Granlund and Niederreiter, will be representing their countries for the first time in the Olympics.
The Sochi Olympics open Feb. 6, with men’s ice hockey beginning Feb. 12. The participating teams are based on the nations ranked 1-9 according to the 2012 IIHF Men’s World Ranking plus three qualifiers. The four teams with the best records (the group winners and the second-place team with the best record) advance to the quarterfinals on Feb. 19. The Gold Medal Game is scheduled for 6 a.m. CT on Sunday, Feb. 23.
Group A: Russia (1), Slovakia (6), USA (7), Slovenia (18)
Group B: Finland (2), Canada (5), Norway (8), Austria (15)
Group C: Czech Republic (3), Sweden (4), Switzerland (9), Latvia (11)