Vanek to represent country, miss All-Star Game

The Rochester Americans announced today that the team has agreed to loan right wing Thomas Vanek to Austria as it hosts one of the three qualification tournaments for the 2006 Winter Games in Klagenfurt from February 10-13.

While at the tournament, Vanek will miss four games with the Amerks and will forgo the 2005 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic. The Rochester rookie was selected as a starter for PlanetUSA at the event to be played February 13-14 at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H.

The native of Graz, Austria, is now third in the AHL in rookie goal-scoring (18) and points (33). He also ranks fourth on the Amerks in points and leads the team with 10 power-play goals in 47 games. In addition, he is currently riding a five-game point streak. Earlier this season, he was named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week for November 22-28, after recording seven points in four games.

Vanek was the Buffalo Sabres’ first-round selection (fifth overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, following his college career at the University of Minnesota. He played two seasons with the Golden Gophers and picked up 113 points (57+56) in 83 games. In his freshman season (2002-03), Vanek led the team with 62 points (31+31), and the nation with 31 goals. He earned Frozen Four tournament MVP honors as the Gophers went on to win the NCAA title that season.

At the international level, Vanek played for Team Austria at the 2004 IIHF World Championships in the Czech Republic. He finished 12th among points leaders with seven (2+5) in six games.