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Pair of Minnesota Wild prospects prepares for Olympic action

United States' Greenway, Russia's Kaprizov begin play Wednesday in PyeongChang, South Korea

by Kayleigh Jackson / Wild.com

With the 2018 Winter Olympic Games already underway in PyeongChang, South Korea, and some nations' medal counts nearing the double digits, international men's hockey players and fans have had to exercise some patience. And while this year's tournament doesn't feature current NHL athletes, the Minnesota Wild will have two prospects in the hunt when pool play begins Wednesday morning Midwest time.

Jordan Greenway, who will turn 21 on Feb. 16, was drafted by the Wild in the second round (50th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The current Boston University junior is taking part in his first Olympics but is no stranger to donning U.S. colors in international play. 

Greenway represented the United States in three International Ice Hockey Federation world championships, picking up gold medals in 2015 and 2017 along the way. He also played two seasons (2013-15) with the United States National Team Development Program (NTDP). 

At 6-foot-6 and 227 lbs., Greenway is the biggest player on Team USA, but that's not to say his size is his only attribute. The forward is second on the Terriers with 25 points on the season (9-16=25) and leads the team in both assists and shots (104).

He's also the first African-American player to take part in an Olympic hockey tournament.

"I'm honored," Greenway told NHL.com. "I think it's unbelievable. At first I thought I was just another kid going to the Olympics, but now I think it gives me the opportunity to maybe be a role model to other African-American kids who are trying to figure out what they want to do.

"I think a lot of kids have other role models in other sports, like basketball, baseball, football. Because there's not as many African-Americans playing hockey, hopefully I can be one of those role models and maybe influence them to come out and play hockey and try something different."

The Team USA roster also features a pair of Minnesotans in Moorhead native Will Borgen and Bloomington native Ryan Stoa. Former St. Cloud State player Garrett Roe joins Borgen as Huskies representatives in South Korea, as well.

Meanwhile, Kirill Kaprizov will participate as a member of the Olympic Athletes from Russia team. Kaprizov, who plays for CSKA Moskva in the Kontinental Hockey League, has picked up 40 points (15+25=40) in 46 games this season. 

Of his 15 goals, five came on the power play -- helping contribute to a 15.5 shooting percentage. 

Kaprizov, who is just a few months younger than Greenway, has navigated the Russian hockey system his entire career. Bouncing between Kuznetski Medvedi of the Russian junior league and Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the KHL for several years, he was traded to Salavat Yulaev Ufa before signing with CSKA Moskva prior to the 2017-18 season. 

Like Greenway, the Wild drafted Kaprizov in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, picking him up in the fifth round (135th overall). 

However, Kaprizov will remain in Russia for at least a few more seasons before making the jump to North American hockey with the Wild. Following a visit with Kaprizov around the turn of the new year, Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher said he appreciated getting to know the prospect and see him play in person for the first time. 

Greenway and Kaprizov have already met in three games during their international hockey careers. In the 2015 Under-18 World Championship, the two played one game against each other. Russia won that contest, but the United States would win the tournament while Russia finished fifth.

They also played in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships; Kaprizov led the tournament in scoring while Greenway finished 10th. In both games between the U.S. and Russia, the United States came out on top, ultimately going on to claim gold as Russia earned a bronze medal.

In PyeongChang, both the United States and Olympic Athletes from Russia are slotted in Group B. They will each play three round-robin games, culminating in a matchup against each other Saturday, prior to the elimination round. 

Greenway and Kaprizov aren't the only Wild representatives in PyeongChang; Wild development coach Richard Park is serving as an assistant in the host nation's first-ever Olympic men's hockey appearance.

Since Korean Standard Time (KST) is 15 hours ahead of the Central time zone, most games will take place early in the morning for Minnesotans. Games may be shown again later in the day as NBC's 'Game of the Day.'

Here is Team USA's schedule:

TEAM USA'S GROUP SCHEDULE

DATE

OPPONENT

BROADCAST START (CT)

CH.

Feb. 14

Slovenia

5:30 a.m.

NBCSN

Feb. 15

Slovakia

9:10 p.m.

CNBC

Feb. 17

Olympic Athletes from Russia

6:10 a.m.

NBCSN


Here is the Olympic Athletes from Russia's schedule: 

OAR'S GROUP SCHEDULE

DATE

OPPONENT

BROADCAST START (CT)

CH.

Feb. 14

Slovakia

6:10 a.m.

USA

Feb. 16

Slovenia

1:40 a.m.

NBCSN

Feb. 17

United States

6:10 a.m.

NBCSN


Events can also be streamed on the NBC Olympics website.

Men's elimination games will begin on Monday, Feb. 19. The bronze medal game will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 5:30 a.m. on NBCSN and will re-play at 1 p.m. The gold medal game is slated for Feb. 24 at 9 p.m. on NBCSN and will re-play at 5 a.m. on Feb. 25.

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