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Kenny Agostino has already lived his childhood dream of playing in the National Hockey League. He'll add a new chapter next month, when he represents Team USA at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Agostino was one of 22 players introduced on Thursday afternoon. The roster includes 15 current college players, eight from European teams, and two from the AHL.
"We're excited about the mix, a great blend of youth and experience," USA Hockey coach David Quinn said. "The challenges are, you're throwing 25 guys together in a short period of time, and trying to become a cohesive unit in a quick, small window. Our guys look around and see the roster and feel very confident in the group we have. We really feel we've chosen the right team to go over there and win a gold medal."
A 29-year-old left wing from the Flanders section of Mount Olive, Agostino is in his first season with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League.
With 20 goals and 20 assists in 46 games for the Torpedo, Agostino ranks 14th in the KHL in points — the No. 2 American in the league.
Torpedo's top scorer Kenny Agostino extended his contract with the club for one season pic.twitter.com/XncDA34zhg
— HC Torpedo (@torpedonn_eng) December 28, 2021
Agostino was part of three NJSIAA titles at Delbarton, and graduated in 2010 as the school's all-time leading scorer, with 50 goals and 33 assists as a senior.
"(The Olympics) is perfect for his game, playing on a bigger sheet, having an opportunity to puck possess and make plays," Green Wave coach Bruce Shatel said. "When he was given opportunities in the NHL, it was only human nature for him to be concerned, 'Did I play well enough to stick for another game?' When you have that in the back of your mind, constantly fighting for another day, it's hard to play at the level you're capable of. In the Olympics, he's going to have a ton of pressure to perform for your country, but he's not going to worry about being re-signed, or play in your next game. I think you're going to see great things from him at the Games."
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Originally drafted by Pittsburgh in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Agostino was part of a blockbuster trade to Calgary leading up to the 2013 Frozen Four with Yale. He helped Yale win the NCAA title as a junior — the school's first in any team sport — then turned pro after his senior season, signing a two-year contract with the Flames.
Agostino made his NHL debut on March 21, 2014, but appeared in only 10 games with the Flames.
He totaled eight goals and 22 assists in 86 NHL starts with Calgary, St. Louis, Boston, Montreal, and the Devils. He was named the AHL MVP after an 83-point season with the Chicago Wolves in 2016-17 as a member of the Blues organization, but his production dropped off with Boston's AHL affiliate the following year.
Agostino signed a one-year deal with the Torpedo in June, then extended his contract for a second season on Dec. 28.
On Dec. 22, the NHL announced its players would not participate in the Olympics. The league had planned an Olympic break, but was forced to reschedule dozens of games due to COVID outbreaks.
Seven of the future Olympians have NHL experience, including Agostino. The average age is 25.1 years, the youngest since 1994.
The players will gather in Los Angeles prior to the Olympics. However, general manager John Vanbiesbrouck said some must travel straight to China due to COVID restrictions. The full team will come together for the first time on Feb. 4 in Beijing.
Team USA begins play Feb. 10 against host China, followed by Canada and Germany in the Group A preliminary round. Qualification playoff games will be Feb. 15, followed by quarterfinals and semifinals. The gold-medal game is scheduled for Feb. 20.
"We all had to change gears in December when it was announced the NHL guys weren't going," Quinn said. "This is a lifetime opportunity for all our players and everybody involved in the Olympics. USA Hockey has never had a deeper player pool. We feel very confident we've got an opportunity to win a gold medal.
Jane Havsy is a storyteller for the Daily Record and DailyRecord.com, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. For full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis, subscribe today.
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This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: US Olympic hockey team 2022: Kenny Agostino on Beijing roster