Jake Sanderson accepts U.S. Olympic invite
The UND sophomore defenseman competes in the 2022 Beijing Games next month.
GRAND FORKS — Jake Sanderson will go to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The UND sophomore defenseman has accepted an invite from USA Hockey to play in the Beijing Games next month, multiple sources have confirmed to the Herald.
Sanderson will play in all of UND's January series, then leave to join the U.S. Olympic Team in early February.
USA's first game at the Olympics is Feb. 10 against China. It also has pool play games scheduled for Feb. 12 (vs. Canada) and Feb. 13 (vs. Germany).
Qualification playoffs are scheduled for Feb. 15, the quarterfinals Feb. 16, semifinals Feb. 18 and the medal games Feb. 19 (bronze) and Feb. 20 (gold).
Sanderson will miss UND's home series against Colorado College on Feb. 4-5. The Fighting Hawks are scheduled to have Feb. 11-12 off. Sanderson's availability for UND's series at Minnesota Duluth on Feb. 18-19 will depend on USA's success.
The Americans took four active NCAA players to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, but are expected to rely heavily upon current NCAA players this time around.
The coaching staff has a distinct college flavor with head coach David Quinn (former Boston University), assistants Mike Hastings (MSU-Mankato), Brett Larson (St. Cloud State) and goalie coach David Lassonde, a former longtime NCAA assistant.
The official roster could be released within the next week.
Sanderson is the second-highest drafted player ever to suit up for UND. He went No. 5 overall to the Ottawa Senators in the 2020 NHL Draft.
He has lived up to his billing at UND. Sanderson is off to an outstanding start to the season, tallying 22 points in 17 games. He's tied with forward Riese Gaber as UND's leading scorer.
Sanderson captained the U.S. World Junior team over Christmas break, but never had an opportunity to chase a second-straight gold at the under-20 event. It was canceled because of four COVID-19 positive tests after the Americans played just one game.
The Fighting Hawks have played four games without Sanderson this season. They're 3-1 in those games.
UND hockey has a long history of producing Olympians beginning in 1952, when John Noah won silver with the U.S.
With Sanderson going this season, UND will have had men's reps in 16 of the last 19 Winter Olympics (none in 1998, 1976 and 1960). Notably, Dave Christian won gold with the USA Miracle on Ice team in 1980, Ed Belfour in 2002 with Canada and Jonathan Toews in 2010 and 2014 with the Canadians.
In 2018, Ludvig Hoff left for a couple of weeks to play for his native Norway in PyeongChang. Former UND defenseman Chay Genoway won a bronze medal that year with Canada.
The women's side will heavily feature former UND players and coaches, too.
Former UND head coach Brian Idalski will be the head coach of Team China. His assistant will be Max Markowitz, who served as Idalski's video coach at UND. Former UND forward Rebekah Kolstad also will play for China.
Former UND associate head coach Peter Elander is the head coach of Denmark, which is making its first appearance at the Olympic Games. Denmark's star player is former UND center Josefine Jakobsen.
Other former UND women's players expected to head to the Olympics are goalie Kristen Campbell of Canada, defender Johanna Fallman of Sweden and forwards Michelle Karvinen and Susanna Tapani of Finland.