Six Olympic hockey team roster spots left to fill for Salt Lake Games

Team USA adds Richter, Barrasso

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2001

NEW YORK -- Mike Richter took his place in goal for the U.S. Olympic hockey team Wednesday night, another step in his successful comeback from major injuries to both knees.

Coach Herb Brooks and general manager Craig Patrick added the New York Rangers star and Carolina goalie Tom Barrasso during the Rangers' 2-2 tie with New Jersey.

''It was a very easy choice,'' Patrick said. ''They're playing great. They have great experience both internationally and in the NHL. Everybody knows their record. Tom has had a great comeback and Mike Richter has had a great comeback from his injury.''

The final six players are expected to be announced Saturday, the deadline to submit final rosters for the Feb. 8-24 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Brooks and Patrick were originally scheduled to complete the 23-man roster Wednesday.

''Most likely it will be Saturday,'' Patrick said. ''I think we've identified the people, but we're deciding what the balance should be between forwards and defense.''

Richter was 1-3 with a 3.55 goals-against average in the 1998 Nagano Olympics after winning the MVP award in the United States' surprising victory in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Fully recovered from the knee injuries, he's 14-9-3 with two shutouts and a 2.69 GAA this season, the 35-year-old goalie's 14th with the Rangers.

''It means an awful lot. It was motivation for me over the summer in rehab and workouts,'' Richter said. ''But all the goals were the same. I wanted to be in shape for training camp and stay healthy for the Rangers and I also knew it would give me the best shot at making the Olympics.

''Anytime the Olympics are in your home country, it's extra special and with the different set of circumstances since Sept. 11, it brings a lot of meaning to the unity of your country, not to overstate it as an athletic event.''

He injured his left knee during the 2000 All-Star skills competition, and missed the final 23 games last season after tearing up his right knee.

''From where he's come from -- even at the start of the season -- to now, is remarkable,'' Rangers coach Ron Low said. ''It's great for him to do it and pull it off. The great thing is, he said it. On the phone over the summer he told me, 'I'm in great shape and there's nothing nobody will be able to do about it.'''

Barrasso returned to the NHL this year with Carolina after sitting out last season. The 36-year-old goalie, 9-9-3 with two shutouts and a 2.34 GAA this season, edged Philadelphia's Brian Boucher and St. Louis' Brent Johnson for the final spot in goal.

The addition of Richter and Barrasso pushed the average age of the 17 selected players to 32.4 years.

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