BLAINE, Minn. (Jan. 30, 2018) – With the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games just over a week away, the media staff at the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine wanted to continue a tradition that we began four years ago before the 2014 Sochi Olympics — researching connections between the NSC and the U.S. Olympic Team.
With the Schwan Super Rink at the NSC being the busiest hockey facility in Minnesota, it will come as no surprise that we focused our historical sleuthing on hockey. And it should come as no further surprise that we found plenty of connections.
In fact, of the 48 players named to the men’s and women’s USA Olympic rosters, we have confirmed that at least 31 of the players have skated at the Schwan Super Rink over the years.
We started with the women’s team. With USA Hockey holding varied women’s national team training camps at the Super Rink over the years, most recently last December, we knew that all members of the women’s team had skated at the facility. The trick was to chronicle how and when. With seven of the players listing Minnesota hometowns, several, like Lee Stecklein and Maddie Rooney, grew up playing youth hockey at the Rink. Others played with their high school teams. Six current players, all veterans, were part of the year-long USA Hockey Residency Program at the Super Rink prior to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The men’s roster boasts only two Minnesota players, Will Borgen from Moorhead and Ryan Stoa from Bloomington. Both have skated at the Super Rink. Six other members of the 25-player men’s are also veterans of the Super Rink ice. Several played in the North American Hockey League Showcase, an annual junior league event that is held at the NSC each September. Others played for the USA U18 National Team, which has played exhibition games at the rink. Some played for their youth teams in tournaments held there.
In addition to the USA Olympians, the Super Rink has also hosted several other Olympic players who have trained and coached at the facility, including Marissa Brandt (Korea) and Nora Ratty and Mira Jalosuo (both Finland.)