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7 Minnesotans punch their tickets to Beijing Olympics as part of Team USA's men's hockey team

Minnesota is sending the most hockey Olympians from any state in the country.
Credit: KARE 11

MINNEAPOLIS — The men's hockey team representing the United States in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games is officially set, bringing to Beijing seven native Minnesotans-- the most from any state on the roster-- as well as two others with Minnesota connections.

Ben Meyers of Delano (UMN); Nick Perbix of Elk River (SCSU); Sam Hentges from New Brighton (SCSU); Brock Faber of Maple Grove (UMN); Aaron Ness of Roseau (UMN); Drew Helleson of Farmington (Boston College); and Noah Cates of Stillwater (UMD) made the team's final roster. 

Two more men, Matthew Knies of Phoenix, Arizona and Nathan Smith of Hudson, Florida, also have Minnesota ties, as they currently play for Minnesota State University, Mankato and the University of Minnesota, respectively.

“We’re excited about the roster we’ve put together,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, general manager of the 2022 U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team and assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, said in a statement. “The Olympics are the biggest stage in sports and it was fun to hear the enthusiasm our players have to represent their country."

Smith, a current forward for the U of M, leads the NCAA in scoring and is one of nine collegiate players selected for Team USA who are averaging a point or better per game. 

The group as a whole consists of 15 current NCAA players, eight European professional hockey players and two players from the AHL. Roseau native Ness is one of six members of the team with NHL experience, now playing defense for the AHL's Providence Bruins.

Brian O’Neill (Yale University) who currently plays in the Kontinental Hockey League, is the only player returning to the Olympics after helping earn a seventh-place finish with the team at the 2018 Olympics.

The countdown to the Winter Games is on, as opening ceremonies are set to take place Feb. 4 in Beijing, China. The men's hockey team will play its first game on Feb. 10, facing China at 7:10 a.m. CT.

You can catch all of the Olympic action beginning Feb. 3 on KARE 11.

For Team USA's full roster, click here.    

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