By Gary Anderson

January 7 - Russia has named its men's ice hockey squad for Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe Russian men's ice hockey squad looking to deliver home glory at Sochi 2014 has been announced and sees 15 of the 25-man squad coming from the National Hockey League (NHL), led by star forwards Alexander Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin.

Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins' Malkin will be expected to lead the Russian attack in Sochi, where the pressure will be on for the host nation to deliver a first ice hockey Olympic title under the Russian flag since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Although Russian players tasted Olympic glory a year later at Albertville 1992, they played as part of the Unified Team with players from other members of the former Soviet bloc under the Olympic flag.

Prior to this, the Soviet Union had claimed seven ice hockey gold medals at Winter Olympics from 1956 to 1988.

At Vancouver 2010, the Russian squad went into the tournament with high expectations of bringing back a medal but were outclassed by eventual winners Canada in the quarterfinals.

Ovechkin, one of the star players of the NHL, will be hoping to avoid a repeat of that performance four years ago as he competes in his third Winter Olympics and revealed his pride and excitement at being selected to compete on home ice.

"It means a lot and I am very proud for me and my family," said the 28-year-old.

"It's exciting and you can see right now that all the media talk about are the Olympic Games.

"And to get to represent your country at the Games is unbelievable."

Alexander Ovechkin is expected to be one the main men for Russia as they look to claim Olympic gold at Sochi 2014 ©Getty ImagesAlexander Ovechkin is expected to be one the main men for Russia as they look to claim Olympic gold at Sochi 2014 ©Getty Images

Along with Datsyuk and Malkin, Ovechkin will be joined by fellow NHL players Semyon Varlamov of Colorado Avalanche; Sergei Bobrovsky, Fedor Tyutin, Nikita Nikitin and Artem Anisimov of the Columbus Blue Jackets; Nikolai Kulemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs; Vladimir Tarasenko of the St Louis Blues; the Dallas Stars' Valeri Nichushkin; Anton Belov of the Edmonton Oilers; Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings; and Montreal Canadiens duo Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin.

The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) provides ten of the Russian squad, including Dynamo Moscow trio Alexander Eremenko, Denis Kokarev and Sergei Soin; Alexander Popov of Avangard Omsk; Ilya Kovalchuk and Viktor Tikhonov of SKA St Petersburg; Alexander Radulov of CSKA Moscow; and Ak Bars Kazan trio Ilya Nikulin, Alexei Tereshchenko and Yevgeny Medvedev.

Although they have failed to win Olympic gold since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia has claimed the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship crown on four occasions, most recently in 2012, and are currently ranked at number three in the world, behind Finland and world champions Sweden.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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