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Maatta, Jokinen to play for Finnish Olympic hockey team

| Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, 9:39 a.m.

Olli Maatta is an NHL regular at 19.

He will be an Olympian before turning 20.

Maatta, a Penguins rookie defenseman, was selected Tuesday to the Finland men's ice hockey team that will play at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February. Maatta's Penguins teammate, winger Jussi Jokinen, also will play for Finland.

Maatta has played in all but one game for the Penguins this season after making the team out of training camp. He has impressed management, coaches and teammates — including veteran Brooks Orpik, a member of Team USA — with his poise and work ethic.

The Penguins view Maatta as eventual top-pair defenseman to play with Kris Letang, perhaps as soon as next season.

Maatta was the 22nd overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft that was staged at Consol Energy Center.

Orpik and fellow defenseman Paul Martin were selected to Team USA last week. The Penguins' Dan Bylsma will coach the United States.

Canada will unveil its Olympic roster at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who scored the gold-medal winning goal at the 2010 Vancouver Games, is again a lock to represent Canada.

High-scoring wingers Chris Kunitz and James Neal are also candidates to play in their first Olympics, although Hockey Canada executives were leaning toward not selecting them before final meetings on Monday.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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