U.S. Olympic women's hockey team bears strong Minnesota flavor

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 2, 2014 - 12:47 AM

Five current or former Gophers — no surprise — made the squad.

hide

Gophers women's hockey players Amanda Kessel, Megan Bozek and Noora Raty.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

For a week and a half, they kept the good news under wraps, telling only their immediate families. Five current or former Gophers — Gigi Marvin, Megan Bozek, Amanda Kessel, Anne Schleper and Lee Stecklein — were named to the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team on Dec. 20, but they were sworn to secrecy until Wednesday’s formal announcement.

The lack of surprise didn’t take any of the sparkle off a landmark day. The five got just as big a thrill when they were handed their Team USA jerseys for the first time, while they watched the second period of the NHL’s Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., and were introduced during a live national telecast. “It was tough to keep it quiet,” Bozek said. “But to put on that jersey and celebrate as a team, it was the moment of a lifetime.”

The U.S. women’s roster for next month’s Sochi Olympics includes 11 Winter Games veterans and 10 first-timers. Three are Minnesota natives: Marvin (Warroad), Schleper (St. Cloud) and Stecklein (Roseville), ranking only behind the five players who come from Massachusetts. Marvin is a two-time Olympian, while the other four will make their Winter Games debuts.

U.S. coach Katey Stone assembled a group that blends youth and experience. The speedy, skilled Americans play an up-tempo style, in contrast to the bruising physicality of chief rival Canada. Marvin, Bozek, Schleper and Stecklein make up the bulk of the U.S. defense in front of veteran goalies Jessie Vetter and Molly Schaus, and Kessel epitomizes the quickness of a team that ended pre-Olympic play with four consecutive victories over Canada.

“We’re thrilled with the team that we have,” said Stone, the Harvard head coach who also will make her Olympic debut. “We have spent countless hours working on making sure we have the right group. We’ve got a great mix of seasoned veterans and youthful enthusiasm and a tremendous amount of skill and talent and speed.”

Bozek and Kessel helped the Gophers win back-to-back NCAA titles in 2012 and 2013. Stecklein was part of last season’s run, which ended with a 41-0 record, and Schleper was part of the 2012 championship team. Kessel and Stecklein have eligibility remaining and took leaves of absence from the Gophers this season to train toward the Olympics.

Kessel has not played in any of the team’s international games this season because of a lower-body injury, but Stone has said repeatedly that Kessel will be ready to play in Sochi.

Stecklein, 19, is the youngest player on the roster. The oldest is four-time Olympian Julie Chu. The team also includes forwards Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux, who played one season for the Gophers before finishing their careers at North Dakota.

All 21 players on the team have competed at the world championships, and 18 of them — including all those with Minnesota ties — were on the team that won the 2013 world championship last spring.

“I feel very confident with where we are right now,” said Bozek, who led U.S. defensemen in scoring with three goals and seven assists during the pre-Olympic schedule. “We’ve worked hard, and I feel like we’re peaking at the right time. I’m excited to see how good we can be come February.’’

The team will continue training in the Boston area and will open the Olympic tournament on Feb. 8 against Finland. Two other former Gophers — goaltender Noora Raty and defenseman Mira Jalosuo — are on Finland’s Olympic team.

The U.S. will be aiming for its first Olympic gold medal since 1998, when it won the first ever awarded in women’s hockey. Canada has won all three Olympic golds since then, though the Americans have won four of the past five world championships.

During the pre-Olympic schedule, the U.S. lost its first three games against Canada before winning four in a row, including a 3-2 shootout victory at Xcel Energy Center on Dec. 28. The turnaround coincided with upheaval in Canada’s program. Coach Dan Church resigned unexpectedly on Dec. 12, saying he believed others did not have confidence in his abilities, and was replaced by former Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen.

  • related content

  • Roster: U.S. women's Olympic team

    Wednesday January 1, 2014

    GoaltendersName Height Weight Age CollegeBrianne McLaughlin 5-8 130 26 Robert MorrisMolly Schaus 5-9 156 25 Boston CollegeJessie Vetter 5-8 155 28 WisconsinDefenseName Height Weight Age CollegeKacey Bellamy 5-7 145 26 New HampshireMegan Bozek 5-8 170 22 MinnesotaGigi Marvin 5-8 162 26 MinnesotaMichelle Picard 5-4 150 20 HarvardJosephine Pucci 5-8 149 23 HarvardAnne Schleper 5-10 170 23 MinnesotaLee Stecklein 6-0 170 19 MinnesotaForwardName Height Weight Age CollegeAlex Carpenter 5-7 155 19 Boston CollegeKendall Coyne 5-2 125 21 NortheasternJulie Chu 5-8 147 31 HarvardBrianna Decker 5-4 148 22 WisconsinMeghan Duggan 5-10 160 26 WisconsinLydnsey...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Gophers head coach?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close