Hailing from Middletown, New Jersey located at the infamous Jersey Shore, James van Riemsdyk will be one of the men representing the United States on the ice hockey team at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The 2014 Winter Olympics will be van Riemsdyk’s first time on Team USA’s roster. At only 24-years-old, the left winger currently employed by the Toronto Maple Leafs could be one of the team’s most potent players.
Van Riemsdyk began his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was traded for defenseman Luke Schenn before the 2012-2013 season to the Maple Leafs. Since arriving there he has ascended into becoming one of the better young players in the league.
In the current 2013-2014 season, he has already set a career high in goals and points. This is a remarkable achievement considering how there is still a lot of NHL hockey left to be played.
An Olympic hockey player from New Jersey is not as rare as it may seem. Van Riemsdyk will be joined by Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson who grew up in Colonia, New Jersey not too far from Middletown. The 2010 team had another New Jersey native, Cherry Hill’s Bobby Ryan who currently plays for the Ottawa Senators.
Of the four major sports hockey is the least popular in the United States, New Jersey included. An odd truth considering the New Jersey Devils are the only major league team that plays in New Jersey and lets it be known. The New York Giants and New York Jets football teams both play in New Jersey, but choose to represent New York.
Because hockey is the state’s fourth major sport, van Riemsdyk’s participation has been overlooked by many. Add to it that he now plays for a Canadian team; most natives in Northern New Jersey are not as familiar with him as they should be.
Winning a Gold Medal will be a difficult task for van Riemsdyk and the rest of the team. In fact, the United States Hockey Team has only ever won two Gold Medals in Olympic history. The last one was the most famous, occurring after their “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviet Union. The other less known one took place twenty years prior in 1960.
Since van Riemsdyk plays a team sport he will need to outperform the rest of Team USA in order to make a name for himself at the Olympics. Then again, the events at the Olympics are not about individual achievements. van Riemsdyk is representing an entire country and there is no doubt he will do it well.
Should the New Jersey native wrap a Gold Medal around his neck in Sochi, you better believe all of Middletown and surrounding areas will celebrate one of their own succeeding on the international stage.