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TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids forward Tomas Jurco headlines a contingent of 11 Griffins alumni who will represent six nations in the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Play will begin Wednesday and conclude with the gold medal game on Sunday, Feb. 23.

EXTRA: Click here for the current Olympic statistics of the 11 Griffins alumni.
 
Jurco is just the fifth player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics while an active Griffin, joining Sergei Kolosov (2010 Belarus), Niklas Kronwall (2006 Sweden), Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (2010 Norway) and Julien Vauclair (2002 Switzerland). Impressively, Jurco is also one of four members of Grand Rapids' 2013 Calder Cup championship team who will play in Sochi, along with fellow countryman Tomas Tatar, Sweden's Gustav Nyquist and Slovenia's Jan Mursak.
 
Sweden edges out Slovakia (Jurco, Tomas Kopecky and Tatar) with four former Griffins on its roster -- Jonathan Ericsson, Jonas Gustavsson, Kronwall and Nyquist -- while four other countries have a single Grand Rapids alum within their ranks: Norway (Tollefsen), Slovenia (Mursak), Switzerland (Vauclair) and the United States (Jimmy Howard). Finland's Valtteri Filppula was set to make it an even dozen before he broke his ankle in a game with the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.
 
The Griffins have a long and storied relationship with the Olympics, with 13 alumni having donned their nations' uniforms after concluding their Grand Rapids careers, including a record three appearances in the Games (2002, 2006 and 2010) by the late Pavol Demitra of Slovakia. In the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, Kronwall became the first Griffins alumnus to earn an Olympic medal, winning gold thanks to Sweden’s victory over Finland in the championship game. Filppula became the second to medal in 2010 in Vancouver, earning a bronze with Finland.
 
Thanks to Grand Rapids' impressive representation at the Olympics -- including Howard becoming the first former Griffin to make the roster of the U.S. squad -- 14 of the 18 games in the Preliminary Round will involve at least one Griffins alum. The 12 Olympic teams are divided into Group A (Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States), Group B (Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway) and Group C (Czech Republic, Latvia, Sweden, Switzerland), with the complete tournament schedule as follows:
 
Date Group/Round Teams Time (EST)
Wed., Feb. 12 Group C CZE vs. SWE Noon
Wed., Feb. 12 Group C LAT vs. SUI Noon
Thu., Feb. 13 Group B FIN vs. AUT 3 a.m.
Thu., Feb. 13 Group A SVK vs. USA 7:30 a.m.
Thu., Feb. 13 Group A RUS vs. SLO 7:30 a.m.
Thu., Feb. 13 Group B CAN vs. NOR Noon
Fri., Feb. 14 Group C CZE vs. LAT 3 a.m.
Fri., Feb. 14 Group C SWE vs. SUI 7:30 a.m.
Fri., Feb. 14 Group B CAN vs. AUT Noon
Fri., Feb. 14 Group B NOR vs. FIN Noon
Sat., Feb. 15 Group A SVK vs. SLO 3 a.m.
Sat., Feb. 15 Group A USA vs. RUS 7:30 a.m.
Sat., Feb. 15 Group C SUI vs. CZE Noon
Sat., Feb. 15 Group C SWE vs. LAT Noon
Sun., Feb. 16 Group B AUT vs. NOR 3 a.m.
Sun., Feb. 16 Group A SLO vs. USA 7:30 a.m.
Sun., Feb. 16 Group A RUS vs. SVK 7:30 a.m.
Sun., Feb. 16 Group B FIN vs. CAN Noon
Tue., Feb. 18 Qualification Playoff TBD 3 a.m.
Tue., Feb. 18 Qualification Playoff TBD 7:30 a.m.
Tue., Feb. 18 Qualification Playoff TBD Noon
Tue., Feb. 18 Qualification Playoff TBD Noon
Wed., Feb. 19 Quarterfinals TBD 3 a.m.
Wed., Feb. 19 Quarterfinals TBD 7:30 a.m.
Wed., Feb. 19 Quarterfinals TBD Noon
Wed., Feb. 19 Quarterfinals TBD Noon
Fri., Feb. 21 Semifinals TBD 7 a.m.
Fri., Feb. 21 Semifinals TBD Noon
Sat., Feb. 22 Bronze Medal Game TBD 10 a.m.
Sun., Feb. 23 Gold Medal Game TBD 7 a.m.