Ocean to Ice: Wilmington represented at Winter Olympics

Bobby Sanguinetti preparing for the opening ceremony (Source - Sarah Sanguinetti)
Bobby Sanguinetti preparing for the opening ceremony (Source - Sarah Sanguinetti)
Bobby Sanguinetti in front of the Olympic rings in South Korea (Source - Sarah Sanguinetti)
Bobby Sanguinetti in front of the Olympic rings in South Korea (Source - Sarah Sanguinetti)
Sarah Sanguinetti and their son before USA vs. Slovenia hockey (Source - Sarah Sanguinetti)
Sarah Sanguinetti and their son before USA vs. Slovenia hockey (Source - Sarah Sanguinetti)

Wilmington, North Carolina. It's historic, a gateway to the beaches - safe to say not a place your mind goes to when you think of the Winter Olympics. Bobby Sanguinetti may change that way of thinking.

"I don't know if it still has hit me what I'm getting the opportunity to do but at that time you just have so much emotion it's an amazing feeling," Sanguinetti said.

The opportunity in front of him is to represent the United States at the Winter Games in South Korea as a member of Team USA Hockey. A quick look at the roster shows Sanguinetti lists Wilmington as his hometown.

"We spend our summers here so for eight months we're over in Switzerland and the rest of the time we're home," Sanguinetti said. "This is our home, this is what we consider it so to have it listed as my hometown was important to me."

For Wilmington to become his home, a lot of dominoes had to fall, and not all of them fell Sanguinetti's way. A first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 2006, injuries and low production led to a trade that eventually put Sanguinetti in Raleigh as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes

"It's tough. You look back and you wish things had happened a little bit differently and you wish you could have had a full-time role, but I'm fortunate for what I was able to do, it allowed me to find the area here and to call this home," Sanguinetti said.

Just not a full-time home, at least not yet. Bobby, his wife Sarah, and their 5-month old son live most of the year in Switzerland where Sanguinetti plays in the top Swiss league. But when the NHL made the announcement it wouldn't be sending players to the Olympics this season it opened the door for the Americans who are playing overseas.

"Once you hear the NHL's not going it kind of, you start to think this can be real, this could happen," said Sanguinetti. "That was the big moment where you set your goal, you want to make that team and you just go throughout the process"

Part of the process was landing a spot on the USA roster for the Deutschland Cup in Germany, a virtual tryout for the Olympics. While the team did not get the results it was looking for, Sanguinetti did - a phone call letting him know he was an Olympian.

"It happens like that, it's quick, you think about what you've been through in your own career and you think about the people who helped you get there, your family, your friends. The experience that I'm going to have is amazing to be able to share it with those people it's a good feeling, a really good feeling."

Unlike the memories, the Winter Olympics are just temporary, but if Bobby Sanguinetti makes the most of this moment in time it could bring his hockey life full circle

"It's tough because you have such a good situation in Switzerland where it's gotten you to this point but it's the NHL right, it's the best league in the world to play in and if it came knocking, I think I'd really have to consider it if it was a great situation for me and my family but my mom always says things happen for a reason, so this has been a big part of our life in this area and we're thankful for it," Sanguinetti explained.

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