August 27, 2013 in Sports

Expectations high at U.S. Olympic camp

 
Associated Press photo

Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma will begin the task of assembling a gold-medal worthy team for the 2014 Olympics.
(Full-size photo)

Hockey: Forty-eight professional players who hope to make the U.S. hockey team that competes in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February gathered at the Washington Capitals practice facility in Arlington, Va., Monday for a two-day orientation camp.

Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, the U.S. team’s head coach, told the prospective players that there are high expectations for the American squad after it won the silver medal at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. The U.S. suffered a 3-2 overtime loss to Canada in the gold medal game.

“We were a shot away from winning a gold medal,” Bylsma said. “Now the expectation is much different. We’re going to Sochi, Russia, with a mindset of winning a gold medal.”

To accomplish that, national team officials will choose from among the best American-born talent the NHL has to offer. Camp invitees included forwards Patrick Kane (Chicago), Paul Stastny (Colorado), T.J. Oshie (St. Louis), and Toronto wingers James Van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel.

Defensive hopefuls include Jack Johnson (Columbus), Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg), John Carlson (Washington), and rookie Seth Jones, the fourth overall pick by the Nashville Predators in the 2013 NHL draft.

Five goaltenders are vying for three slots on the team: incumbent Olympic net minder Ryan Miller (Buffalo), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles), Craig Anderson (Ottawa), Cory Schneider (New Jersey), and John Gibson, an Anaheim Ducks draftee.

Bylsma and company are looking to assemble a young, talented, swift-skating team that they hope will end a streak of disappointing Olympic performances several time zones away from North America, where most games are played on rinks 15 percent larger than NHL surfaces.

Whoever is selected, the U.S. hockey team will likely be one of the youngest squads at the Olympics. None of the camp invitees were born when the 1980 U.S. team pulled off its “Miracle on Ice” and defeated a powerful Soviet Union hockey team on the way to winning a gold medal at Lake Placid, N.Y.

This week’s orientation activities are important, USA Hockey officials say, because it helps build chemistry and continuity for a group of players who have rarely played together and will quickly have to become a team.

Other than a few moments with groups of youth hockey kids on one of the facility’s twin rinks, the players didn’t set foot on the ice.

• Devils re-sign Henrique: New Jersey has re-signed center Adam Henrique to a new multi-year contract.

Henrique, 23, had 11 goals and 16 points in 42 games last season with New Jersey, after a memorable rookie season with the Devils in 2011-12.

Gatlin edges Ashmeade in sprint

Track and field: U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin overcame the rain and a challenge by Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade to win the 100 meters at the Gugl Games in Linz, Austria.

Gatlin clocked 10.08 seconds to beat Ashmeade by 0.09. Keston Bledmann of Trinidad and Tobago trailed Gatlin by 0.19 in third.

Barbara Pierre won the 100 meters ahead of Charonda Williams and Alexandra Anderson to lead an American sweep in the women’s event.

World record-holder Aries Merritt of the U.S. beat 2008 Olympic champion Dayron Robles by 0.23 to take the men’s 110-meter hurdles in 13.26. Olympic champion Sally Pearson of Australia won the 100 hurdles in 12.83, leading second-place Reina-Flor Okori of France by 0.35.

Horner takes third stage at Vuelta

Cycling: American veteran Christopher Horner won the third stage of the Spanish Vuelta to take the overall leader’s jersey, with race organizers saying he became the oldest rider to earn a stage victory in one of cycling’s three grand tours.

The 41-year-old RadioShack-Leopard rider broke away on the last uphill climb to win the 107-mile ride from Vigo to Vilagarcia de Arousa (Spain) in 4 hours, 30 minutes, 18 seconds.

Giro d’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali trails Horner by 3 seconds for the overall lead.

Seven-time All-Star McGrady to retire

Basketball: Tracy McGrady says he is retiring from the NBA.

The seven-time All-Star spent 16 seasons in the NBA playing for the Raptors, Magic, Rockets, Knicks, Pistons and Hawks. Capping his career by signing with the San Antonio Spurs late last year.

McGrady averaged 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in a career that was curtailed by injuries.

McGrady didn’t rule out extending his career overseas. McGrady played in China before joining the Spurs.

• Cavs’ Thompson leads Canadian team: Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson will lead Canada’s men’s basketball team at the upcoming FIBA Americas Championship.

Thompson is one of four NBA players on the team, which also includes Miami center Joel Anthony, San Antonio point guard Cory Joseph and Orlando forward Andrew Nicholson.

A total of seven players return from the 2011 team, which was knocked out of the second round of the Americas qualifying tournament for the 2012 London Olympics. Forwards Anthony Bennett, the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, and former Gonzaga Bulldog Kelly Olynyk will not be available due to injury.

The FIBA Americas Championship is a qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. Canada’s first game is Friday against Jamaica in Caracas, Venezuela.

• Clippers add Jamison: Free-agent forward Antawn Jamison told the Los Angeles Times that he’d reached an agreement on a one-year deal with the Clippers for the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million.

The signing of Jamison would give the Clippers 14 players under contract for next season and presumably end any interest in re-signing free agent Lamar Odom.

Kurt Busch to join Stewart-Haas Racing

Miscellany: Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR champion, said he has signed with Stewart-Haas Racing, which is rapidly developing into a super-team and will have four cars next season.

The deal was first reported by Fox Sports and ESPN. A news conference was scheduled for today by SHR.

Busch will be teammates with co-owner Tony Stewart, who is out the rest of this year with a broken leg, Danica Patrick and Kevin Harvick, who is leaving Richard Childress Racing to join SHR.

• Oklahoma lineman charged with burglary: Oklahoma offensive lineman Jacob Reed was suspended after he was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend after breaking into her apartment in Norman, Okla.


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