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Pyeongchang Olympics Ice Hockey Men

UW men's hockey coach Tony Granato directs Team USA against the Czech Republic in the Winter Olympics quarterfinals last Wednesday.

The top two scorers on the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team were Ryan Donato and Troy Terry, both college players.

With those on NHL contracts not available to participate in the tournament, did head coach Tony Granato and USA Hockey take too few from the NCAA ranks?

Granato doesn't think so.

"We took the perfect number," he said Tuesday after returning to his first University of Wisconsin men's hockey practice since leaving for South Korea nearly three weeks earlier.

Donato, a junior from Harvard, led the U.S. with five goals — no one else had more than one — and six points and was the team's most-used forward in terms of time on ice.

Denver's Terry had five assists, and Boston University's Jordan Greenway was a strong physical presence and was third on the team in shots on goal.

A fourth college player, St. Cloud State defenseman Will Borgen, was the only skater not to play during the team's five games.

Granato said that the experience of Donato, Terry and Greenway had showed in previous big situations. The rest of the team was made up of players based in European leagues or on American Hockey League contracts.

"You take more (college players), then you might lose some of your older players from the standpoint that those were the guys that from day one were committed all year to being ready for that opportunity," Granato said. "They have the experiences of playing on the big sheet. They welcomed the young guys in to those roles.

"But if you take seven or eight (college players) and you get three or four of those young guys that get out there and are in awe of the situation, then you create problems. So I think the right number was the guys we took.

"I'm not saying that other college players didn't deserve that opportunity because a lot of them have had great seasons. But the players that were there representing our country have had great seasons, too. They did a heck of a job. So I think we did the right thing on the balance."

The U.S. defeated Slovakia 5-1 in the qualification round last Tuesday after an overtime loss to Slovenia, a win over Slovakia and a loss to Russia in pool play.

The Americans were ousted from the tournament with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals last Wednesday.

The four college players and assistant coach Keith Allain, the head coach at Yale, all were back for games with their NCAA teams last Friday.

Granato said he stayed behind in South Korea until the Olympics were over Sunday to honor commitments he made to USA Hockey.

While he was gone, the Badgers went 0-4 to close the regular season and were outscored 21-5 by Minnesota and Ohio State.

That left them in sixth place in the Big Ten Conference standings and set up a best-of-three, first-round series at No. 12 Michigan starting Friday.

"We didn't play well enough to win," he said of UW during his absence. "The way we were before I left, I thought we were in pretty good position to have success those two weekends. It's disappointing."

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Todd D. Milewski covers Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey and the UW Athletic Department for the Wisconsin State Journal.