The U.S. and Canada remain the powerhouses of international women’s hockey, with one or the other winning every world championship and Olympic gold medal ever awarded. The teams are preparing for this February’s Winter Olympics with a series of games, including three in Canada and five in the U.S.
The 26-player U.S. roster includes seven former or current Gophers: Gigi Marvin (Warroad), Lee Stecklein (Roseville), Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights), Dani Cameranesi (Plymouth), Kelly Pannek (Plymouth), Amanda Kessel and Megan Bozek. Sidney Morin (Minnetonka) played at Minnesota Duluth, and Maddie Rooney (Andover) is on leave from the Bulldogs. Team Canada includes four members who played college hockey in Minnesota: Sarah Potomak (Gophers), and Haley Irwin, Jocelyne Larocque and Brigette Lacquette (UMD).
Team USA update
The U.S. named 20 skaters and three goalies to its national team roster in May. The group has been training in Wesley Chapel, Fla., since September and is 5-1 during its pre-Olympic schedule, including a 3-1 record against Canada. Two of those victories came in November’s Four Nations Cup in Florida, where the U.S. also beat Finland and Sweden en route to the championship.
In recent weeks, the U.S. expanded its roster, adding two defensemen — Morin and Cayla Barnes — and forward Haley Skarupa. That means three players will have to be cut when the final Olympic roster is announced Jan. 1. Coach Robb Stauber said not every player has progressed as projected, leading USA Hockey to reassess. “We’re a couple of months into our residency, and there are things that aren’t happening the way we would like,’’ he said. “We have to be able to say to ourselves, ‘There were some other good players. Let’s take a look.’ ’’
Forward Kendall Coyne and defenseman Emily Pfalzer are tied for the team lead in points, with four goals and four assists each. Cameranesi and Brianna Decker have six points each, and Brandt and Hilary Knight have five apiece. Rooney is the team’s top goalie, with a 4-0 record, 1.75 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Nicole Hensley is 1-1, with a 2.40 GAA and .840 save percentage.
Team Canada update
The 26-player Canadian team, coached by former UMD assistant Laura Schuler, is training in Calgary. The roster includes 14 holdovers from the team that won gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the country’s fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in women’s hockey. In addition to the Four Nations Cup and six other games against the U.S., Team Canada is playing a series of games against boys’ Junior A teams to prepare for the Olympics. It lost twice to the Americans at the Four Nations Cup, falling 4-2 in preliminary play and 5-1 in the championship game. Canada is 1-1 in other games against the U.S. this fall, losing 5-2 in Quebec City on Oct. 22 and winning 5-1 in Boston on Oct. 25.
$25 adults, $12.50 children 12 and under, at the Xcel Energy Center box office, via www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.