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Okposo Olympic watch

Kyle Okposo likely felt a huge weight lifted when he snapped his 18-game goal drought Saturday night against the Rangers, but even with that lingering pressure finally put to rest, there is still one issue looming.

While that goal-less streak may have seemed endless, the waiting game Okposo must play for the next four days might seem equally daunting.

Okposo will not know until Friday, when the roster will be announced at the Winter Classic, whether he'll be headed to Vancouver to represent Team USA in the Olympics this February.

And until then, he'll just have to hope that what he has shown throughout the first half of the season is enough.

"I think I've played pretty well for the most part of the year," Okposo said. "The points are not where I'd like them to be, but, that said,  I think I've done other things to help this team win."

Although Okposo leads the Islanders with 20 assists, his numbers are not dazzling. He just recently scored his sixth goal of the season after an agonizing stretch where he could not find the back of the net for more than six weeks.

But, his contributions extend far beyond what statistics can quantify. Even amidst that frustrating month-and-a-half, Okposo elevated his play in every other facet of the game. Okposo not only found ways to set up his teammates, he served as one of team's most integral special teams components and one of the team's best defensive forwards.

"It's easy for people to forget the other things he brings to the table," said teammate Blake Comeau. "He leads by example and by the way he steps on the ice every shift. He never quits on a play, he never quits on the puck. So many guys now are one-dimensional, but he's such a versatile player that his role is so broad."

Scott Gordon, an assistant coach for this year's Olympic team, said the key to Okposo earning a spot will be whether the selection committee feels he can serve the right role, be a part of the "right mix."

"A lot of energy. Skill, too, but mainly hard work," Okposo said of what he could contribute. "I just want to win."

Both Gordon and Comeau are hoping that he'll get that chance.

"I don't see anyone more deserving than Kyle,"  Comeau said. "They shouldn't forget what he means to this team, to this organization. He makes each guy he plays with better. And that's the type of player you want on your team."

"I know how much he gives to our team," Gordon said. "It would be nice to see him rewarded. He's certainly a deserving candidate."

What would a spot on the U.S. Olympic team mean to Okposo?

"It would mean a lot," Okposo said. "Every kid grow up watching the Olympics and hoping to be a part of it. I've been fortunate enough to represent Team USA before. To wear that logo on my chest would be pretty special."

New York Sports