Brunswick standout, Blues' Shattenkirk named to USA Olympic hockey roster

St. Louis Blues defenseman and former Brunswick School standout Kevin Shattenkirk works the puck down the ice during a recent game. — Getty Images photo

St. Louis Blues defenseman and former Brunswick School standout Kevin Shattenkirk works the puck down the ice during a recent game. — Getty Images photo

The Brunswick School in Greenwich will be paying a little extra attention to this year’s Winter Olympic games, as a former athlete will be representing Team USA in Sochi.

Kevin Shattenkirk, a Greenwich native who played on the Brunswick School ice hockey team in 2004-05, got the call by the United States Olympic Committee and USA Hockey to be a member on this year’s Olympic hockey team.

“It was a little nerve-racking watching the game and waiting to hear,” said Shattenkirk, who didn’t know his fate until his name was announced as part of the festivities at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic held at Michigan Stadium. “I was waiting to hear the roster like everybody else. It was a lot of different emotions at once. It was a relief, it was happiness and so many different things. At the end of the day, it was something that I was thrilled over. I got to talk to my parents right after and my brothers. It is a very special accomplishment and something I’m looking forward to.”

Shattenkirk is no stranger in lacing up his skates for Team USA, as he played in the Men’s Under-18 World Championship, the World Junior Championship and the Men’s World Championship. In those games, he’s scored three goals and finished with 14 assists.

However Shattenkirk admitted that getting the call for Olympic hockey is something completely different.

“This trumps everything else,” Shattenkirk said. “It’s the Olympics. To be named an Olympian is something really special to me and is a huge honor and privilege. I am just looking forward to the opportunity to play. I met a few people that played in 2010 and they all have tremendous pride playing for that team. It’s something I admire.”

Joining Shattenkirk on defense for Team USA will be John Carlson (Washington Capitals), Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes), Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks), Paul Martin (Pittsburgh Penguins), Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers), Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh Penguins), and Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild). They will be protecting either Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings), Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) or Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings), who constitute the goalie roster for Team USA.

“With the bigger ice surfaces here, they want guys who can move the puck, transition well and be more poised with the puck as well,” Shattenkirk said. “Puck possession is a huge part of playing on the bigger ice surface. I can’t give the puck away. With the group of defensemen, you can tell that the team is built so we can all transition, skate well and move the puck. If I can bring that to the table as best as I can and chip in, then I’ll be happy.”

While Shattenkirk is used to pressure situations, already scoring three game-winning goals for the Blues this season and helping St. Louis net 29 wins as of press time and third overall in the Western Conference with 63 points, having the entire country following closely is a different animal.

“I think there’s more pressure,” Shattenkirk said. “In the NHL, we play the top one percent every game and this tournament is going to be the top one percent of that one percent. It’s going to be the highest quality of hockey that you can play. It’s great for the sport and it’s always an exciting sport to watch during the Winter Olympics. We’re on a huge stage here, but we still feel like people are counting us out and we like that. We like that we are kind of an underdog.”

Shattenkirk and the rest of USA Hockey will head to Sochi, Russia, around Feb. 10 and will play their first game on Feb. 13. The United States will play three preliminary round games against Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia, all three teams joining America in Group A.

Although he’s one of the newcomers on Team USA, Shattenkirk will use his experience playing International Hockey, as well as following the veteran leaders on the team, to get through the difference in play.

“It’s a little different between the NHL and Olympic hockey,” Shattenkirk said. “There are things we will have to work through, but I think playing the game our coaches set up and expect us to play will help a lot. A lot of guys on the team have International experience, so that will help. There shouldn’t be too big of an adjustment. The important thing is that we gel and become a team right away. Once we can do that, it will be an easier task for us to achieve our goal of winning a gold medal.”

So far, this has been a stellar season for the former Brunswick defenseman. In 40 games with the Blues, he has 31 points and is +13. As a team, the Blues are off to their best start midway though the season with 63 points.

“Things are going great in St. Louis,” Shattenkirk said. “We’ve been playing great hockey. We’ve had our ups and downs this year, but we’ve been able to really limit the downs as much as possible. We battled through some injuries and have been playing fabulous hockey. We are a deep team.”

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