January 7, 2014

Former Ferris State Hockey Standout Chris Kunitz Named To Canada's 2014 Winter Olympics Team

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Kunitz Highlights

Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University and the Bulldog men's ice hockey program will be represented in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games as former FSU standout Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins was named Tuesday to the official 25-man team roster for defending gold medal champion Canada.

Team Canada's management staff unveiled the team at a news conference in Toronto Tuesday morning.

The 2014 Winter Olympics will take place Feb. 8-23 in Sochi, Russia, at the Bolshoy Ice Dome and Shayba Arena. A total of 14 countries will compete for Olympic Gold. In Sochi, Canada will be slotted in Group B along with Austria, Norway and Finland.

Canada's first game is on Feb. 13 against Norway. The Canadians then play Austria on Feb. 14, followed by their group-stage finale against Finland on Feb. 16. Each game begins at 9 p.m. Sochi time (noon ET). The quarterfinals are scheduled for Feb. 19, with the semifinals on Feb. 21 and the gold-medal game on Feb. 23. 

"On behalf of the entire men's Olympic hockey team, what an honor it is for all of us to be part of the Canadian Olympic team in general," Team Canada General Manager Steve Yzerman told reporters. "We are hoping to be part of a very successful Canadian Olympic team. We're very proud to announce our team today and we're very excited to get to Sochi and get on the ice."

Kunitz was among two current members of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins chosen to the Olympic team along with linemate Sidney Crosby, whose Golden Goal at the 2010 Vancounver Games powered Canada to the gold medal in the final against the United States. Previously, Kunitz was a member of Canada's squad that won a silver medal at the 2008 World Championships. He's one of 14 forwards on Canada's roster heading into the XXII Olympic Winter Games.  

Canada is looking to become the first country since professional hockey players were included at the 1998 Nagano Olympics to repeat as gold-medal champions. The current head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, Mike Babcock (Saskatoon, Sask./Detroit, NHL), will serve as the head coach of Canada's National Men's Team.

A member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kunitz has tallied 47 points on 23 goals and 24 assists in 44 outings to date this campaign. He also has four game-winning goals and 11 power-play markers on the year while establishing a +22 plus/minus efficiency rating. He's currently sixth in the NHL in both points and goal scoring this season along with second in power-play goals and plus/minus rating.

A year ago, Kunitz claimed NHL First-Team All-Star recognition for the first time in his professional career at the end of the 2012-13 campaign. Although he didn't establish any career highs due to the abbreviated season, Kunitz enjoyed perhaps his best season in '12-13, leading the team in goals (22) and power-play goals (t-9), while placing second in points (52), rating (plus-30) and game-winning goals (t-5). He became the first player not named Crosby or Malkin to lead the team in goal scoring since Ryan Malone in 2003-04.

Kunitz, who agreed to a three-year contract extension in the offseason that will keep him in Pittsburgh through 2016-17, finished the regular season a year ago ranked in the top-10 in the NHL in goals, points, power-play goals, game-winning goals and rating a year ago. His 1.08 point-per-game average was the highest of his career. Last marked the fifth time – and second-straight season – that Kunitz had topped the 50-point mark and the sixth time he'd tallied 20 goals.

The 6-foot, 193-pound Kunitz became the first Penguins player since 2000 to score four goals in a single game when he accomplished the feat at Washington on Feb. 3 of last season. Later in the season he notched a career-best five points (3G-2A) against the NY Islanders on March 10.

Kunitz, who hails from Regina, Saskatchewan, added 10 points (5G-5A) in 15 playoffs games last spring. He tallied the overtime game-winning goal – capping a two-goal, three-point performance – in Game 3 against the New York Islanders in Round 1.

A key member of the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup championship squad, Kunitz was acquired by the Penguins from the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 26, 2009. He went on to register 14 points (1G-13A) in 24 playoff contests that year, helping the Penguins defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the Cup Final.

Previously, Kunitz established several career highs for the Penguins during the '11-12 season, scoring 26 goals, 35 points and 61 points to go with six power-play markers in 82 regular-season games.

Prior to joining the Penguins Kunitz played four-plus seasons with Anaheim and the Atlanta Thrashers between 2003-09. He was instrumental in helping the Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007, scoring six points (1G-5A) in 13 playoff games.

Originally signed by Anaheim as an undrafted free agent on April 1, 2003, Kunitz has appeared in 625 career NHL regular-season games with Pittsburgh, Anaheim and Atlanta, totaling 195 goals, 255 assists and 525 points. He has added 58 points (17G-41A) in 99 playoff games.

As a collegian at Ferris State, Kunitz excelled during his 2002-03 senior season by garnering American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-America First-Team honors and was among the final three 2003 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's top player. A two-time (2001-02 and 2002-03) CCHA First-Team pick, Kunitz became the first Bulldog skater to earn Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Player of the Year honors after leading the league in points, goals, assists, and plus/minus for the 2002-03 campaign.

Kunitz concluded his stellar career ranking tied for sixth in career points (175), second in goals (99) and 18th in assists (76) in 152 contests. He played an integral role in leading the 2002-03 Bulldogs to a school-best 31-10-1 overall record, the school's first-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship title and the program's first-ever NCAA Division I Championship Tournament appearance. Kunitz was also recognized as the male student-athlete recipient of the 2002-03 Bulldog of the Year Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding Ferris State student-athlete.

Last season, Kunitz was chosen to the CCHA's All-Decade Team for his work as a collegian at Ferris State.

A number of former Bulldog hockey players have participated in international competition at various levels, including past Olympians Bob Nardella (Italy), Norm Krumpschmid (Austria) and Jason Blake (United States). Nardella was on Team Italy in 1998 and 2006 while Krumpschmid played for Austria in '98 and Blake was a member of the United States team in 2006.

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