Gleason goes from snub to gold game; 'dreamed of this as kids'

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- When the players were announced at Fenway Park for the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team, Tim Gleason's(notes) name wasn't one of them.

"I was a bit shocked. I was disappointed," said Gleason, a defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes. "But I never booked a flight home. I never booked a flight for vacation. Which is ... interesting."

On Feb. 4, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek(notes) pulled out of the Olympics with a shoulder injury. Gleason was one of two defensemen added to the roster as injury replacements, along with the Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Whitney(notes) for Paul Martin(notes) of the New Jersey Devils.

He began the month left off the Team USA roster. By the end of it, he'll have played in a gold medal game. Which makes his father look like a very, very smart man for believing his son would, one way or another, join the U.S. team for the Winter Games.

"My family booked tickets six months ago, and they had security on them. And they said they weren't cancelling them. And I said 'you're nuts, it's not going to happen.' My dad said 'I'm not cancelling.' But it all worked out. I'm here," he said.

He's here, and apparently everyone Gleason's ever met knows he is. "I get random messages and phone calls from people I haven't heard from in a while. I got a lot of unknown numbers. A friend from grade school ... I don't know how they get the number," he said.

Gleason's averaged 14:20 time on ice through five games, playing to a plus-3 without scoring a point. He's been effective as a defensive partner for Erik Johnson(notes), bringing his physical style to what have been frequently physical games.

Most of all, you can count the number of times the name "Komisarek" has been mentioned in postgame comments thanks to Gleason's stability.

The injuries were reasons why the Americans were underestimated coming into the tournament; after making the gold medal game with their 6-1 thrashing of the Finns, Gleason believes Team USA has rendered its critics futile. "They're going to stay whatever they're going to say. We're a humble group. Underdog or over the hill, it doesn't matter. We're a team that comes to play every game," he said.

"We dreamed of this as kids. To be playing in it is awesome."

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