Ice hockey: Ovechkin leads Russian bid for gold in Sochi

Tue Jan 7, 2014 4:20pm EST
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By Jason Bush

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was named in Russia's squad for next month's Olympics in Sochi while veteran defenseman Sergey Gonchar and forward Alexander Semin were surprise omissions from the 25-man roster.

Forward Ovechkin is among 15 NHL players named in the squad, but Russia's head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is also banking on the strength of the domestic Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Ten players made the cut from the Russian-dominated competition, one more than Bilyaletdinov's predecessor, Vyacheslav Bykov, selected four years ago for the Vancouver Games.

Ilya Kovalchuk, a former NHL forward with the Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils who joined SKA St Petersburg in the KHL last year, is among the top players from Russian teams.

Along with Ovechkin, those drawn from the NHL include Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings and Evgeny Malkin of the Pittsburg Penguins, both strong attacking players.

Dynamo Moscow's key player, the hard-working, experienced 31-year-old forward Sergei Soin, was a surprise inclusion.

"In terms of Sergei Soin, just like Alexander Eremenko, he's a two-time Gagarin Cup (KHL playoffs) winner and won't be intimidated by high profile players," said Bilyaletdinov.

"He will be able to help out when we are shorthanded and will help to limit the offensive play of our opponents," he added on the official website of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia (   Continued...

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin (8) skates with the puck in front of Anaheim Ducks center Saku Koivu (11) in the first period at Verizon Center. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports