It’s the New Year and both Team USA and Team Canada rosters have been announced. Since this is a blog of filthy Americans, we’ll be doing Team USA in depth now and Team Canada’s outstanding players/notes later – largely because, well, why talk about Canada when you could talk about America? Haha just kidding. (Not kidding.)
So, America. The US team has a wide variety of players, from veterans to young hotshots – and hotheads. How many people who don’t generally follow women’s hockey caught the many US/Canada brawls during the 7 exhibition games played for the Road to Sochi series? But while the fighting is fun, and this blogger lives in hope of seeing Kacey Bellamy break her stick in half and shank a Canadian, there’s a lot more to Team USA than fists o’ fury.
The US has several players who’ve set records at various colleges, including Amanda Kessel and Hilary Knight, who played for the Gophers and the Badgers, respectively.
Amanda Kessel will be a key player for the US – she missed out on the pre-Sochi series due to an lower body injury, but she had 101 points in her last year at Minnesota, and is known for being an offensive dynamo. She’s somewhat unique in that she’s much less likely to pass when she gains the offensive zone than the average women’s hockey player; some examples of that are in this video:
In addition to her insane play for the Gophers, she scored the gold medal winning goal in the 2013 Women’s World Championships:
There’s been debate about whether she’ll be ready for the Olympics, but she’s on the roster. Time will tell if she’s ready.
Hilary Knight broke records playing for the Badgers – she graduated with 143 goals, good for all-time leader – and has been a big factor during the 7 USA-Canada games. She’s both big and fast, and can drive play as well as score goals. Here’s her in the shootout:
Unlike Kessel, she’s largely stayed healthy, and has been a regular on the women’s national team since the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where she was the youngest member on Team USA. She’s playing center now, usually with at least one of the Lamoureux twins. While not really old enough to be considered a veteran – she’s 24, and won’t be 25 until the summer – she brings a lot of experience to the lineup.
Monique & Jocelyn Lamoureux get treated as a unit, because I’m lazy and they play together a ton. They were at Minnesota their freshman year, but then transferred to the University of North Dakota. Both were on the 2010 Olympic team. Look for them to get goals on quick passes, like this:
And yes, yes, they started the round of brawls back in October. Don’t touch one of the twins, or the other will kill you.
Kelli Stack is another defensively irresponsible forward, so naturally I love her. Injury kept her out of Women’s World’s last year, but she won gold in 2011 and silver in 2012. In the NCAA, she became Boston College’s all-time leading scorer. Not bad. She notched 8 points at the last Olympics and was considered more or less a lock for Sochi. Kelli Stack brings youth and speed, two things that this year’s Olympic team will rely on. She’s less of a sniper than Kessel, but she’s great at scoring goals when she’s right in goalie’s faces, like here:
And of course, there’s Julie Chu. In college she was an offensive dynamo at Harvard, setting records and outpacing nearly everyone she played with. Since then, she’s often played the role of a defensive center or even defense, especially when playing in the CWHL. Whether because of injury or just plain age, she’s largely a special teams player now. She doesn’t wear a letter, but she’s known for being a leader (and more level-headed than Duggan, the actual captain). This will be her fourth Olympics – she’s played in 9 World Championships as well. Look for her on the PK, where she wins faceoffs like a champ.
Honorable mention to Megan Duggan, who is probably currently best known for being heavily involved in the USA/Canada brawls. But Duggan brings Olympic experience and leadership. She’ll be heavily involved in promoting the US women’s team as Sochi draws closer.
Gigi Marvin is probably the biggest name on Team USA’s defense. In addition to being from Warroad (a town famous for being tiny, having a zillion rinks, and producing roughly 900,000 hockey players) she’s got an A for team USA and has played with the CWHL, Olympics, and WCHA. She’s a very physical player – illegally physical, you could say, though refereeing in the women’s game is highly variable in terms of how much contact actually gets called. She’s on the offensive side for defensemen, and will probably be seeing top minutes.
Megan Bozek is one of the younger players on the roster, at the age of 22. She’s played defense for the Gophers and won gold in Women’s Worlds last year. The best thing that can be said about Bozek is that you hopefully won’t notice her a lot. She hasn’t gotten a ton of minutes in exhibition games, but she made the cut, so we’ll see.
Kacey Bellamy, yes, desperately wants to fight some Canadians. She’s an active, physical, quick player, and you probably will notice her as she clears space for USA’s offense. She’s also a one-time Olympics alum and plays for the Boston Blades.
Jessie Vetter was considered a lock for the starting position, but Schaus has been getting a look in the exhibition games, and USA’s coaching staff has talked about the competition being good for both goaltenders. Vetter has been in four Women’s World Championships and won the silver in Vancouver as the starting goaltender. She can’t touch Canada’s Shannon Szabados for sheer skill, but she’s active in the net and is still the favorite for the starting job.
Molly Schaus is the other goaltender who’s been getting a lot of looks in exhibition games. She’s bigger than Vetter, and 3 years younger, but her puck handling isn’t as good and she’s played a bit of a nervous game even in exhibition games. Having said that, she was in Vancouver, so it’s hardly a surprise that she’s being brought back for this Olympics.
That’s all I feel like doing, lucky you! Check this space for links and more coverage of the media circus leading up to Sochi. IMP OUT.