7 Floridians on Team USA in 2022 Olympics
Florida is sending seven athletes to the Winter Games in Beijing next month, far more than any other southern state.
- One athlete from the Tampa Bay area, Nathan Smith of Hudson, will play for Team USA in men's hockey.
What's happening: Smith, a junior center for Minnesota State, is believed to be the first NHL draft pick born in the Tampa Bay area and graduated from a local high school, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Why it matters: A product of the Lightning's youth program, his success is a win for pro hockey development in Tampa Bay.
- Smith started playing roller hockey at 6, then ice hockey at 11 with the Tampa Scorpions and later at Mitchell High.
- He was a prolific scorer in the Lightning High School Hockey League and played a few years for the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders before joining Minnesota State.
💭 Ben's thought bubble: We could see him in a Lightning jersey someday — a notion that seems all but impossible without a few decades of hockey building in Florida.
The rest of Team USA's Floridians:
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