Winter Games Athletes
Howard had a disappointing first three months of the season, spent nearly three weeks on injured reserve in December because of a sprained left MCL and missed more than a week in January with a knee injury, but his past success coupled with his experience in big games landed him the No. 3 goaltender spot on Team USA for the Sochi Games. Howard, 12-13-9 with a 2.65 goals-against average this season, went 1-5-5 with a 3.01 GAA and .898 save percentage in his 11 starts leading up to the announcement of the Olympic team on New Year’s Day. Although New Jersey’s Cory Schneider and Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop were also strong candidates for a backup goalie role, the selection committee gave the edge to Howard because of his three consecutive seasons with at least 35 wins from 2009-12 and his 42 postseason starts. He went 7-7 with a 2.44 GAA and one shutout in last year’s playoffs to help Detroit get within one win of the Western Conference finals. The 29-year-old native of Syracuse, N.Y., will be making his first Olympic appearance and fourth at the international level. He led the U.S. to the gold medal at the under-18 championship in 2002, going 5-1-0 with a 1.33 GAA and getting named USA goaltender of the year. He appeared in three games at the 2003 world junior championships, and went 5-2-0 with a 2.42 GAA as Team USA finished in seventh place at the 2012 world championships. Howard played three seasons at the University of Maine, and led the Black Bears to the 2004 championship game. He holds single-season and career school records at Maine for shutouts, GAA and save percentage.