ANN ARBOR, Mich. Ogdensburgs Jimmy Howard fought off injuries and in-season struggles to win a spot Wednesday on the U.S. mens hockey roster for the Sochi Olympics in February.
Howard appears to be the Americans third goaltender behind Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller. His body of work boosted his bid ahead of Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In a preseason interview Howard, a product of the Ogdensburg Minor Hockey Association, remembered watching the Olympics for the first time in 1992 and how it became his dream to become an Olympian.
The Olympics will be his third opportunity to performer on the international stage. He backstopped a World Under 18 Championship for the USA in 2003 and in 2012 he posted a 5-2 record for the USA team in the IIHF world championship.
From a personal standpoint being in the same division as the Wings for years I know what Jimmy can do, said team general manager David Poile. I think this has not been his best year, but his body of work has been fabulous.
Howards Red Wings lost in a shootout (after 2-2 tie) to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic on Wednesday prior to the U.S. team announcement and his season record dropped to 6-9-8. His goals-against average is at 2.72 with a .907 save percentage.
Howard made 24 saves in the contest, which was staged before an NHL record crowd of 105,000, and was honored as the Second Star of the game. Torontos Jonathan Bernier earned the First Star after making 41 saves.
November wasnt very kind to me, then going down with a knee injury in early December and really not playing, Howard said. I worked my tail off and my trainers did a tremendous job of getting me back and getting me into a rhythm.
Howard is the only Red Wings goalie to win 35 games in a season his first two years. He won 37 his first two seasons and won 35 last year.
The big games that he has won for the Wings, especially on the road and behind in series, or what have you, I mean, I know what Jimmy Howard can do but I think the rest of our committee knows what he can do and he got a spot on the Olympic team based on his body of work, Poile said.
And with goaltending and grit, the Americans might have some assets to help them compete with the defending champion Canadians along with the talented and extremely motivated Russians on their home soil.
In Sochi, the U.S. forwards will be: David Backes, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel, T.J. Oshie, Max Pacioretty, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, Paul Stastny, Derek Stepan, James van Riemsdyk and Blake Wheeler. John Carlson, Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler, Paul Martin, Ryan McDonagh, Brooks Orpik, Kevin Shattenkirk and Ryan Suter will be on defense for the Americans.
The Americans expect to be a medal contender after falling a goal short to Team Canada in 2010.