Mitchell High grad Nathan Smith selected for Team USA hockey

Smith was drafted by Winnipeg Jets in 2018
Nathan Smith.jpg
Posted at 2:55 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 18:02:06-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Mitchell High School graduated Nathan Smith has landed a spot on Team USA hockey.

“There’s a chance,” Smith said. “There’s still a long shot for me being from Florida.”

Smith knows a thing or two about being a long shot. In 2018, he was drafted in the third round by the Winnipeg Jets becoming the first NHL Draft pick born in Tampa Bay and graduating from a local high school.

Now, he’s been selected to play for Team USA.

“I knew that once the NHL was out they would go to the college guys,” Smith said.

The NHL had to back out of the Beijing Games because of COVID-19. Smith, who currently plays for Minnesota State, got the call with the news last week.

“I had to take a step back and gather myself for a bit,” he said. “After that, I just called my parents.”

Smith helped Mitchell win a USA Hockey title during his junior season. Now, he’ll try to win Olympic gold. It’s a big step for a kid growing up in a state not known for ice.

“When I was playing, there wasn’t a whole lot of ice,” he said. “It just seemed every year it was growing more and more. I started roller when I was six, but that got me into it.”

Smith leads NCAA Division-I in scoring with 38 points, and he’s a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the nation’s top player. That talent is about to go international.

“I’m extremely honored. Not many people have the chance to call themselves an Olympian,” Smith said. “I’m excited to get the thing going and can’t wait to get to Beijing.”

Smith will soon travel to Los Angeles to train with Team USA before flying to Beijing for the 2022 Winter Games. Team USA is scheduled to play its first game on February 10.