Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler returned to Honda Center on Tuesday without an Olympic medal, but said he was enriched by the first experience of what could be a run of trips to the Games.
“For me, it was a very cool experience, something I was lucky to be a part of,” said Fowler, 22. “Besides coming home empty-handed, I had a great time.”
Team USA entered the semifinals unbeaten but was then blanked by gold-medalist Canada and Ducks Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and bronze winner Finland and tournament MVP Teemu Selanne.
Fowler said Ducks forward Selanne, 43, hugged him and told him “how proud he was of me,” following Finland’s victory, another cherished moment.
“We had a great start, felt we had a team that could produce something special, but then you have a heartbreaking [1-0] loss to Canada, and 12 hours later you have to play a bronze-medal game,” Fowler said. “I wish we could’ve had a better performance.”
Fowler, who scored a goal against Russia, said he became closer to the hero of that game, T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues, who visits Honda Center on Friday as post-break play resumes.
“I felt I had a pretty good tournament, felt like I played hard,” Fowler said. “I certainly tried my best, my hardest. I played with confidence, that’s all I wanted to do.”
With Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne due back in Anaheim on Wednesday, Fowler said he began to move on from the Olympics on the flight out of Sochi, Russia.
“As much as it stung, there’s not much I can do about it now. A lot of my focus was trying to transition back here,” Fowler said. “I’m not going to spend too much time searching for answers.”
The Ducks enter post-Olympic play with the most points in the NHL.
“When Friday comes, we’ve got to jump right into it,” Fowler said.
Roster move: The Ducks moved Finland Olympian Sami Vatanen to minor-league Norfolk as defenseman Mark Fistric has returned to health following a pre-break injury.
“These guys are professional athletes in really good shape,” Boudreau said. “They don’t need a lot of time to get back ready.”
Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne got plenty of exercise in Sochi:
School in session: A group of 14,500 students, parents and teachers observed the Ducks’ Wednesday practice at Honda Center, which included a skills competition of long-distance shooting, a shootout and 2-on-2 play.
As part of the First Flight Field Trip, the Southland students from 160 schools, in grades 3-6, also were educated about the science of making ice in the arena and in a freezer.