GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Thrown together from leagues all over the world, the players shook hands and introduced themselves to teammates they’d never met but know well thanks to a bit of technology.
Long before their first practice together Friday, members of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team connected via a group chat. They talked hockey, logistics and life, and it’s already paying dividends.
“When we get in the locker room today, we feel like we’ve known each other for a while,” forward Brian O’Neill said.
The U.S. was among the final teams to get on the ice together as a group, save for many playing at the pre-Olympic Deutschland Cup in November. With just five practices to get up to speed with coach Tony Granato and each other, the group chat and a website to study various systems were essential to bonding and developing camaraderie. Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato told her brother such bonding was key in a short international tournament.