For the US Olympic Hockey Team, with names like Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Dustin Brown, Zach Parise, Ryan Callahan, Bobby Ryan, Max Pacioretty, and James Van Reimsdyk, who else could you possibly need to fill the roster in the wing slots? Well don’t look now, but there is a man on the rise looking to make a statement to show the world he is ready to compete for Team USA in the Sochi 2014 Olympics. That man’s name is Kyle Okposo. He is an all-American right winger out of St. Paul, Minnesota, currently playing for the New York Islanders and making a statement that he should be considered for a roster spot on team USA for the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
Okposo has been here before. His name was floated four years ago when the Olympics were held in Vancouver, but fell short of a roster spot. Well now he’s back, and after receiving an invite to Team USA’s summer orientation camp he is showing how hungry he is to make the team. It started in the NHL playoffs last season when his New York Islanders took on the Pittsburgh Penguins. During the six-game series that saw the underdog Islanders surprise many before ultimately being eliminated, Okposo tallied four points, finding the back of the net three times.
That confidence and hustle carried over to the 2013-2014 season thus far as Okposo has been on a tear. Playing on a first line with John Tavares and newly acquired Thomas Vanek, Okposo has 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) through 14 games including six multi-point games. At this point, Okposo trails only Phil Kessel (nine goals, nine assists, 18 points) for most points by a winger who was invited to the Team USA camp, the only player of all the wingers invited.
The points are not the only thing Okposo can contribute. He is an aggressive and strong player that can get to the front of the net, or help dig the puck out of corners. He’s had success helping the Islanders generate offensive plays, and knows how to carry the puck over the offensive blue line and help them gain the zone. At the other end of the ice, Okposo provides the defensive services with being one of the few Islanders that can clear the puck out of the defensive zone, he knows how to check; and he’ll lay out a hefty hit and help prevent the puck from hitting the back of the net, as he is a +6 so far this season. Okposo wears an “A” on his sweater for a reason as well. He is a great locker room guy unafraid to use his voice. He is one of the leaders of the New York Islanders, ready to help be one of the leaders of Team USA if called upon.
Now more than ever Okposo is ready to make this team as the confidence Islanders fans have afforded him seems finally ready to be rewarded. Okposo shows no signs of slowing down, and making the USA roster to help contribute to winning the gold will keep the jets burning.
As long as Okposo keeps playing at this pace, when it comes time to choose roster spots, it will be hard to not put him on the list. He’s a hard, determined worker, and thus far earned a spot on the team. If Islanders fans, as well as hockey fans keep seeing this Kyle Okposo, expect him to be wearing a USA sweater come January.
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