Non-NHL Players That Impressed During Olympic Tournament
The 2010 Olympics gave fans one of the finest hockey tournaments we've ever seen, including Sunday's thrilling 3-2 overtime win by Canada in the gold medal game. While many of the players taking place were NHL all-stars, some of them have never played a single minute at the highest level of professional hockey. Here are a few of those players that impressed during the past week-and-a-half and managed to go toe-to-toe with the best players in the world.
Tore Vikingstad, Norway
Tore Vikingstad became somewhat of a cult hero during the Olympics simply due to his name (and it's an awesome name). He was also quite impressive on the ice as Norway's most dangerous forward.
You know who was tied for the second-most goals in the tournament? Vikingstad, of course, as he tallied four goals, trailing only Canada's Jarome Iginla. His best game came in the opening round against Switzerland when he recorded one of the two hat tricks (the other belonging to Iginla) in the tournament in a 5-4 overtime loss. Norway scored just eight goals in the entire tournament, half of them belonging to Vikingstad. No other player on the team scored more than one.
While he's never played in the NHL, the 33-year-old forward was a former sixth-round pick of the St. Louis Blues (No. 180) in 1999. After spending three years in the Swedish Elite League, he's spent the past nine seasons playing in Germany, including the past two with the Hannover Scorpions. In 42 games this season he has 13 goals 42 assists for a team-high 55 points.
Honorable Mention: Patrick Thoresen. While he's not in the NHL at the present time, Thoresen has close to 100 games of NHL experience with the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. In Norway's four games Thoresen recorded five assists, including three in its overtime loss to Switzerland. Mats Zuccarello Aasen was a favorite of the NBC announcing crew, and also had a positive showing with three points.
Roman Wick, Switzerland
Despite having just two current NHL players, and only five players that have any NHL experience, Switzerland advanced to the quarterfinals for the second straight Olympics, and gave the high-powered teams from Canada and the United States everything they could handle. The Swiss were competitive in every game they played, with two goals being the largest margin of defeat.
Jonas Hiller and Mark Streit were Switzerland's two most important players in net and along the blue line, while Wick proved to be its most productive -- and talented -- forward with five points (two goals, three assists) in five games. He displayed good hands and a nice shot, and was pretty clearly its go-to-guy when it needed offense.
At 25, he's still young enough to get a look in the NHL at some point down the line. He was drafted in 2004 by the Ottawa Senators in the fifth round with the No. 156 overall pick.
While he has no NHL experience, he did spend two years playing in the WHL with the Red Deer Rebels and Lethebridge Hurricanes, producing respectable numbers (53 goals, 65 assists in 127 games).
He has talent, but can he hold up physically (currently listed at about 6-foot, 185 pounds)?
He currently plays in the Swiss league.
Honorable Mention: Julien Sprunger and Romano Lemm, who each scored a pair of goals and showed surprising skill for the Swiss. Lemm scored in overtime of Switzerland's 5-4 win against Norway in the preliminary round.
Andrei Mezin, Belarus
He didn't record a win (0-2) and split time with fellow goalie Vitali Koval, but the performance that really stood out was his effort against Switzerland in the playoff qualifier round. With Belarus getting out-shot -- and out-played -- by a 43-22 margin, Mezin gave Belarus more than a fighting chance to pull off an upset by making 40 saves to send the game to a shootout, where the Swiss ultimately won thanks to goals from Lemm and Thomas Deruns.
Honorable Mention: Aleksei Kalyuzhny, who finished with a team-high three goals and finished as a plus-player on a team that was out-scored by five goals.