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Hockey: Ex-UNH star Butler named to Team USA

Los Angeles Times
January 01. 2018 8:25PM
Then-Ottawa Senators right wing Bobby Butler is shown on the bench during a 2011 game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports/File)

The U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team, forced to recruit from the college and European professional ranks after the NHL refused to halt its season to allow players to represent their homelands next month at the Pyeongchang Games, will feature only one player with previous Olympic experience and will consist of about a dozen players who are 30 or older.

The most familiar name on the roster is forward Brian Gionta, who recently completed a 1,006-game NHL career last season and played in the 2006 Winter Games. He was named the team’s captain and will turn 39 before the Games begin.

Also on the team is University of New Hampshire hockey alum Bobby Butler, who currently plays for Milwaukee of the AHL. The forward represented Team USA in the 2013 World Championship with three goals and one assist for four points as the team won the bronze medal.

Butler was a Hobey Baker Award finalist and an All-American as a senior at UNH in 2009-2010. He led the Wildcats in scoring with 53 points (29 goals, 24 assists), ranking second in the country. Butler was also the 2010 Hockey East Player of the Year.

The Admirals posted a video of Butler telling his father he had made the team.

Also named among the one goaltender, eight defensemen and 14 forwards were former Anaheim Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski, who last played an NHL game in the 2015-16 season; former Nashville defenseman Jon Blum, who is playing in Russia’s KHL; and 20-year-old Ducks prospect Troy Terry of the University of Denver. Ryan Donato, a Buffalo Sabres prospect, is the son of 1992 Olympian Ted Donato.

Less known are forward Ryan Stoa, 30, of Bloomington, Minn., and Spartak Moscow of the KHL; 35-year-old Jim Slater of Lapeer, Mich., and the Swiss National League; and 29-year-old Broc Little of Phoenix and the Swiss Hockey League. The team will be coached by Tony Granato, a former Kings forward.

The NHL’s refusal to release its players to play in the Olympics has left each of the men’s teams in the same boat. They must all choose among players in domestic or foreign leagues other than the NHL, and NCAA players.

The U.S. women’s 23-player roster is led by six two-time Olympians, including Hanover’s Hilary Knight and UNH product Kacey Bellamy. The team will be coached by Robb Stauber, a former Los Angeles Kings goaltender.

The U.S. women have not won Olympic gold since the women’s game made its debut at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. Canada has won the last four gold medals.

Bruins/NHL College Monarchs Winter Olympics