Madison, WI — Former UW hockey player and all-American defenseman Brian Rafalski, has been named to the 2002 U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey Team. The announcement was made this afternoon at a news conference by Craig Patrick, General Manager of this year’s Olympic team. Rafalski, who plays for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, and Scott Young, a forward for the St. Louis Blues become the 11th and 12th players, respectively, selected for the 2002 Olympic squad. (USA Hockey named its first 10 players to the 2002 Men’s Olympic Team on March 24.) Rafalski joins Brian Leetch (New York Rangers) as the only defensemen selected to the team to date.
“The way Brian Rafalski came into the National Hockey League shows what determination can accomplish,” said Larry Pleau, Associate General Manager. “He’s been a great player for the Devils, one of their best defensemen over the last two seasons, and he has the ability to log significant ice time,” Pleau added.
Rafalski tallied 9-43=52 this past regular season with New Jersey and following his rookie season in the NHL, was selected to the NHL all-Rookie team. The Devils won the Stanley Cup in 2000 and lost to the Colorado Avalanche in game seven this year.
It is Rafalski’s first selection to a U.S. Olympic team. He has quite a history with USA Hockey, being named to both the 1995 and 1998 U.S. Men’s National Teams at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships and also making up the roster for both the 1992 and 1993 U.S. National Junior Teams.
As a Badger, Rafalski played in 150 career games, scoring 20-80=100 during his four-year career. He earned first-team all-America honors following the 1994-95 season and is the last UW blueliner to be voted his team’s MVP. Following his collegiate career, Rafalski went undrafted and spent four years playing professionally in Sweden and Finland before signing with New Jersey.
Eleven more players will be named to the team by Dec. 22.