Monday September 30th, 2013

NHL players at USA Hockey Olympic Orientation Camp Twenty-five lucky individuals frl\om this group will earn a trip to Sochi. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

USA Hockey announced today that it will reveal the roster for its Olympic team during the NHL's Winter Classic broadcast on January 1.

The game, set for Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, will feature the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 2014 Olympic tournament starts just five weeks later on Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia. Each nation will be allowed to select 25 players, up from the 23 used in Vancouver. That will allow some flexibility for roster construction, although it's expected that the Americans will take three goalies, eight defenders and 14 forwards.

If all goes as expected, fans of both clubs could have someone to cheer for during the announcement. Detroit's Jimmy Howard is one of five goalies battling for three positions on the American squad. His teammate, Justin Abdelkader, is in the hunt for a forward spot along with Toronto's Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.

Young defenders Danny DeKeyser of the Wings and Jake Gardiner of the Leafs also are in the mix.

The Americans are looking to improve upon a silver medal finish in 2010, but GM David Poile knows that won't be easy. Speaking at an Olympic media summit in Park City, Utah, he said he believes the U.S. is "one of four or five teams" with a shot to win gold. The Americans have twice topped the podium, but never at a Games held outside the United States.

Poile also promised to ice an experienced club, with at least half of the 2014 team held over from the 2010 Games.

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