Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Noah Welch and forward Chad Kolarik were named to the 2018 United States Men’s Olympic Hockey Team on Monday. The tournament, which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea from February 9-25, will be the first since the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway, not to feature National Hockey League players.
Welch, 35, was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round (54th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He spent parts of two seasons (2005-07) with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, recording 50 points (14+36) in 104 games.
A native of Brighton, MA, Welch was voted a starter for the PlanetUSA All-Star Team at the 2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic in Winnipeg, Manitoba while with the Penguins. He has appeared in 209 AHL games with the Penguins, Rochester Americans and Chicago Wolves, recording 77 points (19+58).
Welch appeared in 27 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins between 2005-07, recording six points (2+4), before being traded to the Florida Panthers for Gary Roberts. He appeared in 75 NHL games with the Penguins, Panthers, Tampa Bay Lighting and Atlanta Thrashers, recording nine points (4+5) and 58 penalty minutes.
For the past seven seasons, Welch has been playing in Sweden, and currently is a member of Vaxjo HC.
Kolarik, 31, was acquired by the Penguins from the New York Rangers for Benn Ferriero on January 24, 2013. He appeared in 35 regular season games with the Penguins that year, posting 33 points (15+18), and added 11 points (5+^) in 15 Calder Cup Playoff games for the team.
The Abington, PA native spent parts of five seasons in the AHL with the Penguins, San Antonio Rampage, Syracuse Crunch, Springfield Falcons, Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale, recording 209 points (98+111) in 277 games. Kolarik also appeared in six NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rangers, recording one assist.
Kolarik has been playing overseas for the past five seasons, and currently leads the Mannheim Eagles (Germany) with 31 points (19+12) in 32 games this season.
Team USA’s Olympic schedule features preliminary-round play against Slovenia at 7:10 a.m. ET on Feb. 14 from the Kwandong Hockey Centre; Slovakia at 10:10 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Gangneung Hockey Centre; and Olympic Athletes from Russia at Gangneung at 7:10 a.m. on Feb. 17.