PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Stanley Cup champion Brandon Saad and Anaheim Ducks goaltending prospect John Gibson added even more local interest to the 2014 U.S. Olympic hockey team when head coach Dan Bylsma invited the Pittsburgh natives to the team’s forthcoming orientation camp today.
Saad, 20, scored ten goals and 27 points in 46 regular season games as a Chicago Blackhawks newcomer on left wing during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, earning a Calder Trophy nomination for NHL rookie of the year.
During the Hawks’ run to their second Cup in four years, he registered five assists in 23 games and scored his first career playoff goal in Game 1 of the Final, a 4-3 triple-overtime win over the Boston Bruins.
He played one year of varsity hockey for Pine-Richland, capturing the PIHL (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League) Class AAA Penguins Cup in 2008, before furthering his amateur career in the USHL. He later qualified for the U.S. National Development Team.
Gibson, 20, will be looking for his second goal medal in as many years, not to mention his second invite to a Russian-hosted hockey event in as many years.
The 2011 second-round draftee (39th overall) backstopped Team USA to the World Junior title this past winter and earned tournament MVP honors with a 1.36 GAA and .955 save percentage to lead the pack, plus a quarterfinal shutout of the Czech Republic.
Born and raised in Whitehall, he debuted professionally as a backup for the Norfolk Admirals, the Ducks’ AHL affiliate, Apr. 19, his only pro appearance thus far.
Both Pittsburghers face stiff competition in their efforts to crack the Olympic roster. The forwards invited to camp by Bylsma include Penguins rookie Beau Bennett; Saad’s teammate and Conn Smythe Trophy recipient Patrick Kane; Minnesota Wild/2010 Olympic co-captain Zach Parise; and Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler–another member of that 2010 silver-medal squad, and, like Saad, a recent Stanley Cup Finalist.
Among the goaltenders invited are Buffalo’s Ryan Miller and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, the starter (and tournament MVP) and third-stringer on the last American team, respectively.
The U.S. orientation camp will take place Aug. 26-27 at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., the practice home of the Washington Capitals, though according to Sean Leahy of Yahoo! Sports, USA Hockey will not allow campers to skate due to insurance complications.