Nathan Smith selected to USA Men’s Olympic hockey team
MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Minnesota State Mavericks head coach Mike Hastings will be making the trip to represent Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics with junior forward Nathan Smith.
Once the National Hockey League announced its players would not be participating in the games last month, it opened a door for others to suit up for the red, white and blue.
Smith is one of the top players in all of Division I Hockey and leads the nation with 35 points in 24 games played this year, which is an average of close to 1.5 points per game.
”I’m extremely honored, not many people get a chance to call themselves an Olympian. I’m extremely excited to get this going and can’t wait to get to Beijing.”
The Hudson, Florida, native doesn’t necessarily come from a state known for hockey, but he took advantage of the opportunity to play roller hockey growing up.
”I was always outside playing sports after school every day. I would come home, chuck my backpack somewhere inside the house, and I would be on my way outside playing any sport I could. Back then, my good friend would play street hockey outside. I was quite a few years younger, but I loved doing it. We would always mess around, he would school me a little bit, I loved playing. One day I said, ‘Hey dad, I want to go to one of his games.’ He played roller hockey at the rink in our town. I went there and was like ‘Hey, I want to try it.’ We went to Play It Again Sports, he got me all my gear and I never really looked back since then.”
It’s all worked out for the 2018 Winnipeg Jets draft pick after helping MSU to its first-ever Frozen Four last season.
Smith is a key piece in helping the Mavericks be one of the top teams in the nation again this year, and it’s no surprise he’s heading to this year’s Winter Olympics, becoming the first MSU men’s hockey player since David Backes in 2014 to do so.
Smith and the Mavericks take the ice this Thursday against St. Thomas in the first game of a home and home series.
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is scheduled to run from Feb. 4-20 and will be broadcast on KEYC NBC.
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