Borgen announced to U.S. Olympic team

January 2, 2018
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During the 2018 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic on Monday, USA Hockey revealed the rosters for their Olympic hockey teams to play in PyeongChang, South Korea in February.

With no players from the National Hockey League participating in this year's Olympic games, the United States' men's team features 23 players composed mainly of former NHL players and a handful of college standouts.

One of the four college players selected to the U.S. Olympic roster is Buffalo Sabres defensive prospect, Will Borgen.

Borgen, 21, is currently a junior playing with the top-ranked St. Cloud State University Huskies in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. In 17 games with the Huskies this season, Borgen has a goal and eight points along with a plus-5 rating and 39 penalty minutes. Borgen has four goals and 34 points in 87 career collegiate games played with St. Cloud State.

The Sabres' fourth round pick (92nd overall pick) in the 2015 NHL Draft has some past history with the USA Hockey program, playing in the 2016 IIHF Under-20 World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland. In seven games played with the Americans, Borgen registered three assists playing as a second-pair defenseman and won a bronze medal.

Team USA general manager Jim Johannson attributed his familiarity with Borgen dating back to the 2016 World Juniors, and the success he's had at the collegiate level.

"I think [assistant coach] Chris Chelios is very comfortable with him, and knows what he can bring especially given the mix that we had," Johannson said with the media on Tuesday. "He's a guy that's going to help us on the penalty kill, he's got a little bit of size and sturdiness to him, and he's just a safe, steady, responsible player. After playing the [Deutschland Cup] tournament in November, it made it even easier for Chris to evaluate where he is in that mix. He's a guy for us that was a no-brainer to be included."

Also among the players selected to the roster includes former Sabres captain Brian Gionta, who will serve as captain for the Americans. Gionta has not played in much game action this year, only getting some games in with the United States at the Deutschland Cup in Germany this past November. Gionta stayed active to get ready for the Olympics by taking part in some practices with the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League this October and November.

Last season with the Sabres, Gionta scored 15 goals and registered 35 points while playing in all 82 games with the team. In three seasons serving as the Sabres' captain, Gionta scored 40 goals and 103 points on teams that were some of the worst teams in the entire National Hockey League.

Even though Gionta's game action has been limited this year, Johannson feels fortunate to have a player his caliber on the roster and leading the team to PyeongChang.

"He fell into our laps, so the timing was great," Johannson said. "He's obviously a guy that's been a great leader every place he's been. He's also an all-in, kind of appreciative guy, especially with the type of roster that we have. He knows and has followed some of the careers of some of the guys that he's going to be teammates with. He's a guy that's knowledgeable, number one. Secondly, from the coaching side of it, he's a perfect guy to not only be captain but to also give the two-way message, and that's going to be needed in a short time in that tournament."

Here is the entire U.S. Olympic men's ice hockey roster:


Forwards:

Mark Arcobello - SC Bern (Switzerland)

Chris Bourque - Hershey Bears (AHL)

Bobby Butler - Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)

Ryan Donato - Harvard University (ECAC)
*** - Boston Bruins prospect

Brian Gionta (C) - Free Agent

Jordan Greenway - Boston University (Hockey-East)
*** - Minnesota Wild prospect

Chad Kolarik - Adler Mannheim (Germany)

Broc Little - HC Davos (Switzerland)

John McCarthy - San Jose Barracuda (AHL)

Brian O'Neill - Jokerit (KHL)

Garrett Roe - EV Zug (Switzerland)

Jim Slater - HC Fribourg-Gottéron (Switzerland)

Ryan Stoa - Spartak Moskva (KHL)

Troy Terry - University of Denver (NCHC)
*** - Anaheim Ducks prospect


Defense:

Chad Billins - Linköping HC (SHL)

Jonathon Blum - HK Sochi (KHL)

Will Borgen - St. Cloud State University (NCHC)
*** - Buffalo Sabres prospect

Matt Gilroy - Jokerit (KHL)

Ryan Gunderson - Brynäs IF (SHL)

Bobby Sanguinetti - HC Lugano (Switzerland)

Noah Welch - Växjö Lakers HC (SHL)

James Wisniewski - EC Kassel Huskies (Germany)


Goalies:

Ryan Zapolski - Jokerit (KHL)

*** - Two additional goalies to be added later in January


Even with the roster composing of mostly former NHL players or players with previous international success with the United States, the addition of the collegiate players provides some needed youth and energy to the Olympic roster.

With the World Junior team right now in Buffalo, Team USA is mainly composed of players currently playing college hockey across the country and playing with a considerable amount of success. One of those players right now is the Sabres' 2017 first round pick, Casey Mittelstadt.

Mittelstadt currently leads the 2018 World Juniors tournament in scoring with four goals and 10 points in five games played. The U.S. will face Sweden on Thursday in the tournament semifinals with the right to play for gold on Friday night at KeyBank Center. 

In 19 games played as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, Mittelstadt has impressed with five goals scored and 12 points.

Although Mittelstadt is having success at the World Juniors right now and with the possibility or rolling that success over to an Olympic run, Johannson has not put much consideration into asking the 19-year old to play for the Americans again this year in PyeongChang.

"This is the under-20 championship, not the Olympics. It's a little bit different style of hockey," Johansson said. "In fairness to everything that's going on, not only for Casey here with us but being in school and being a student athlete, I just didn't think right now was the right time. He's a wonderful hockey player, and just felt like right now wasn't the time to rush that.

"To me, the separator in all of hockey are the guys that have the ability to beat players one-on-one. Casey has that ability. That, to me, is a big separator in hockey. You see the guys that are having great success in the NHL, that's the type of players that they are. I think Casey's on a great path. He's a guy that is continuing to get a better all-around game. The highlight goal here (against Slovakia), the coaches loved how he stole the puck from the guy, not the unbelievable offensive play that he made. And then you can't coach the rest of it. That's pretty good talent."

As for Mittelstadt, he himself has not put too much thought into the possibility of playing for Team USA this February. He's more focused on the task at hand, and that's Sweden this Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m.

"Right now, this is my big thing for the year, getting to the World Juniors and winning a gold medal," Mittelstadt said following Tuesday's 4-2 win over Russia in the quarterfinals. "That's what I'm doing right now. Obviously representing the USA here right now has been a dream of mine. I'm focused on being here right now."

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