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Jimmy Howard in the net. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/19915432@N00/4546459610/">MPR529</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Jimmy Howard in the net. Photo: MPR529, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Ogdensburg native tries to stay healthy for Sochi

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In these last weeks before the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, we're taking a closer look at the athletes with ties to the North Country.

Jimmy Howard, an Ogdensburg native, is the starting goalie for the Detroit Red Wings. The day after a tough shootout loss in the NHL's showcase game, the outdoor Winter Classic, Howard got some good news.

He was named one of three goalies on the roster for the USA hockey team. "I remember my first Olympics watching in 1994, Lillehammer," Howard told reporters. "It's always been a dream to play for an Olympic team, after getting a first taste with the under-18 program. Wearing that jersey every single day, I had the realization of just what an honor and how special it really is."

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David Sommerstein
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Jimmy Howard bring victory to OFA. Photo: David Sommerstein
Jimmy Howard bring victory to OFA. Photo: David Sommerstein
Howard’s been nursing a knee injury for much of the hockey season. A setback this week is raising questions whether he’ll been healthy in time for Sochi.

Jimmy Howard’s professional career started in 2008, when he played four games as a rookie for the Red Wings. The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup that year. That earned Howard a date to bring the Cup home to Ogdensburg.

David Sommerstein was there at Howard’s alma mater and sent this audio postcard from 2008.

The anticipation in the Ogdensburg Free Acadamy gym is palpable. Well, sort of. Sarah Small and Joe Cosmo are students. "It's very exciting. I think it would be more exciting if I liked hockey though." "Yeah, I'm not a big hockey fan, but it's still a big deal in the sports world."

Hockey is huge here. The adults are maybe the most excited. Many taught Jimmy Howard when he was little. Ernie Jeanault ran the minors league when he was 14. "He's got alot of athletic talent, but the kid's worked extremely hard to get to where he is, and he's made alot of personal sacrifices to get to where he is. But he had a goal when he was 14 and so far he's achieving it."

Word spreads that the Stanley Cup cleared customs at the boarder and it's on it's way. And sure enough, around 1:15, a bright red Chevy Seabring Convertable pulls up with a two police car escort. Jimmy Howard and his girlfriend are in front. And buckled in the back, yes buckled in a seatbelt, is the oldest championship trophy in North American professional sports. Howard lugs it in.

"I just want to say thanks for letting me coming in here and share this with everyone and to once again to reiterate, if you have a dream, just do it."

After a brief presentation, Howard circles the gym floor showing off the trophy. Sarah Small, Joe Cosmo and Amanda Woods are convers. "I'm a Detroit Red Wings fan now!"

"I think it's just amazing to see it up close. I never thought I'd have the opportunity. You can see all the writing and all the people's names and everything. It looks pretty heavy. I wonder if he can lift it up like they do when they win it."

Just as Howard reaches the gym door to leave, he turns back, looks, and lifts the Stanley Cup high above his head. And the crowd goes wild.

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