Winter Games Athletes
Pacioretty was just cutting his teeth in the NHL when the Americans took the silver medal in 2010, but he comes to Sochi as one of Team USA's rising stars after overcoming a major injury not too long ago. The Connecticut native was entering his third season in 2010-11, which was cut short after he suffered a fractured vertebra and severe concussion as a result of a hit from Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara on March 8, 2011. Pacioretty was taken off the ice on a stretcher and missed 22 games, but he came back as a force for the Montreal Canadiens the following season and set career highs with 33 goals and 32 assists in 2011-12. Though Pacioretty hasn't felt the effects from the horrific hit nearly three years ago, injuries have been an issue this season. He missed eight games in October due to a strained left hamstring. He's also dealing with a lower-body injury heading into the games, though he's confident he will be able to play. The 25-year-old has yet to play a full season in his career, but he's done plenty to make his case as one of the top American-born players. His size makes him a solid third-liner for Team USA, and he's able to use his strength to muscle opponents off the puck. Pacioretty also plays big in front of the net to pick up sloppy goals, but he's also able to create.