The American ladies’s hockey crew is trying to rebound from not one, however two silver medals on the final two main worldwide tournaments.
Canada gained gold on the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, and the 2021 World Championships in Calgary, placing an finish to a close to decade of dominance by Team USA at worlds.
Even with stress constructing after two consecutive losses in gold medal video games, this event may very well be the refresh that Team USA wants — because of modifications behind the bench, and a few tweaks to the roster, which was introduced on Sunday morning.
Team USA will apply stateside for a number of extra days earlier than touring to Denmark, the place they are going to open the event towards Japan on Thursday, August 25. Before then, although, let’s dive in on what it is advisable to learn about Team USA on the 2022 Women’s World Championship.
USA Hockey named the 23 gamers — 13 forwards, seven defenders and three goalies — chosen for the crew on Sunday morning.
Here’s the listing, in alphabetical order.
This is a well-recognized group of gamers for Team USA. Eighteen gamers have been in Beijing for the Olympics, headlined by Hilary Knight — making her twelfth ladies’s world championship look, essentially the most all-time in USA Hockey historical past — and captain Kendall Coyne Schofield, making her ninth look. Two gamers are coming back from the 2021 World Championship crew — Lacey Eden and Aerin Frankel — whereas three others will make their senior nationwide crew debuts: Rory Guilday, Hannah Bilka and Taylor Heise.
Not coming back from the previous couple of seasons: Brianna Decker, who was injured on the Olympic Games, had a profitable surgical procedure, however didn’t attend camp. Goalie Alex Cavallini introduced her being pregnant. And ahead Dani Cameranesi introduced her retirement final month. Emily Matheson (nee: Pfalzer), returned to coaching camp after giving beginning in June 2021, however didn’t make the ultimate reduce.
“We can all go into camp saying we’d love to get younger, we’d love to do this or that, but it’s amazing how the players make the decisions for you,” stated Coach John Wroblewski. “Some rise up and earn a spot and you’re like they’ve got to be there, some just aren’t ready and sometimes players on the veteran side, you really want them there and the evidence just presents itself and … it’s just not there.”
If they play to their potential — and the coaches’ expectations — count on this U.S. group to be quicker than final yr, arduous to play towards and extra accountable with the puck.
The 10-team event options Team USA in Group A, with rival Team Canada and a Finnish crew trying to push for extra worldwide medals. Two key variations from the Olympics: Germany and Hungary are within the fold, changing China (the Olympic host nation) and ROC.
When will Team USA be in motion? The viz beneath exhibits their 4 preliminary video games, which finish with a battle towards Canada.
After the preliminary spherical ends, the playoffs kick off. Here’s the schedule for that.
Players to Watch
We all know what Knight and Coyne Schofield can do. Lee Stecklein is a top-pair staple. And goalies, effectively, are at all times powerful to evaluate; although Wroblewski says there will probably be a “tough decision” in terms of choosing a No. 1 from three good gamers.
That being stated, we’re going to concentrate on three youthful — potential breakout — gamers to look at.
Abby Roque, F
After minimal utilization at Worlds in 2021, Roque was thrust into a number one function on the Olympics. When Brianna Decker went down with damage, she moved proper up the lineup to minimize the center within the top-six. While she didn’t pop off on the scoresheet, with three factors in seven video games, Roque nonetheless was impactful along with her work in transition and puck-moving skills.
A fairly good play from Abby Roque right here, particularly as a result of she apparently solely not too long ago emerged from obscurity. Or one thing.
Seriously, although. What a superb transfer and nice cross. Just sensational stuff. pic.twitter.com/RWFb7b4bBN
— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) August 21, 2021
Heading into Worlds, although, Wroblewski already sees her potential.
“I learned how smart she is. She looks smart on video, but I think that when you get to appreciate it live, then you’re really like OK, this is somebody you can play every shift with some of your top scorers and make them better,” Wroblewski stated.
“I think the most important thing is how she can make plays in tight spaces that are very unique. And her hands are sure she hardly ever makes a bad pass. It’s hard to give her a bad one. And that’s a sign of a great player,” the coach added.
Roque has plenty of talent in her toolbox, and if she will be able to “challenge with speed” extra typically, she may develop into a key contributor for Team USA.
Grace Zumwinkle, F
Like Roque, Zumwinkle additionally made her debut with the senior crew at Worlds in 2021. Instantly she grew to become a standout with highlight-reel performs that present her star potential, incomes six factors in seven video games. At the Olympics, nevertheless, her utilization was considerably restricted, as was her scoring with only one purpose in seven video games.
The query for Zumwinkle is whether or not she will be able to put up these dominant performances towards high opponents, after dunking on among the lesser groups in her final Worlds expertise. The coaches appear assured in what she’ll carry over the following few weeks, with Wroblewski calling her “an element.”
“It’s very easy to put Grace on a team because her power game is undeniable. And while we didn’t see the scoring touch really shine through in the three games here, but what you can say is, even if the puck’s not going to the net for her, she is just not fun to play against. And she will just wear on the other team. And that’s what our focus is with her is just to continue to be that type of player. That is downhill. That is frustrating,” Wroblewski defined. “That helps us win shifts, and then when the game starts to slow down a little bit for (her) — which it will because she is still young — she will get more comfortable in her scoring areas and against the goaltending that hopefully some more pucks end up in back the net.”
As lengthy as Zumwinkle retains constructing her sport, and has the ice time to point out her progress, she may very well be a breakout star who retains the ice tilted for Team USA.
Caroline Harvey, D
Wroblewski anticipated rather a lot out of Caroline Harvey heading into camp, given her resume earlier than her twentieth birthday; she remains to be the youngest participant on the Team USA roster.
“She surpassed (my expectations) both on and off the ice,” he stated. “She’s been an awesome realization.”
Harvey, 19, has but to play a single sport within the NCAA — she has dedicated to University of Wisconsin and deferred her freshman season for the Olympics — however has already been named to an Olympic roster and two world championship groups.
She is a small (5-foot-8), speedy and offensive-minded defender who has taken steps in her growth from the Olympics to the U.S. camp and appears extra assured in her sport.
“She showed a lot that she hadn’t shown in the games prior that I’ve watched,” Wroblewski stated. “She’s just so confident; to close (the gap), to rush the puck, to own the offensive blue line.”
Harvey, who noticed a restricted function in Beijing, is already gaining confidence from her head coach, which may imply we see extra of her in Denmark. Of course, there are established gamers forward of her in Stecklein, Megan Keller and Cayla Barnes, however Harvey may slot in on an offensive high 4 and push the puck up ice with pace and management.
Newcomers to Team USA
The three gamers making their U.S. Women’s National Team debuts have been all “exceptional” at coaching camp, in line with Wroblewski.
“These three players, while young, they earned their spot on the team,” he stated.
Hannah Bilka, a ahead from Boston College, was the primary of the younger crop of expertise to actually stand out among the many veteran gamers throughout expertise periods early within the week-long camp. Wroblewski, who coached the U.S. National Team Development Program, likened Bilka’s talent set to a top-five NHL draft choose.
“She reminded me of Trevor Zegras, (who Wroblewski coached from 2017 to 2019),” he stated. “She’s all over the puck, she’s so skilled with it, she makes all kinds of creative plays, and she can really, really shoot it, too. She’s a complete offensive player and very, very impressive with her work ethic, too.”
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) October 25, 2021
Sticking with the ahead group, Taylor Heise and her physique of labor was arduous to disclaim. She scored 29 objectives and 66 factors in 39 video games final season for University of Minnesota en path to a Patty Kazmaier Award as the highest participant in ladies’s faculty hockey. Before making the senior crew, Heise gained three straight U18 world junior championship gold medals and was named event MVP in 2017-18.
She’s a 5-foot-10 heart with positional versatility to kick out to the wing when wanted. Heise has a powerful body and is hard to knock off the puck, with a naturally gifted scoring skill.
“You can’t say enough about her shot,” Wroblewski stated.
Lastly, Rory Guilday is a 19-year-old defender who performed her first season at Cornell final season.
Wroblewski stated she jumped out to him throughout the protection group talent periods resulting from her dimension — listed as 6-foot, 170 kilos — mobility and athleticism.
“We watched her do the agility drills and it was like ‘wow, this is a very impressive athlete,’” he stated. “And then you start to watch her closer in the games and her decision making with the puck was outstanding; it’s simple, but everything’s crisp and she can absolutely hammer it from the point.”
Rebounding from the Olympics
One of essentially the most urgent questions for Team USA is how they’re going to rebound from their final outing at Worlds and the Olympics. When their Olympic gold medal reign ended towards Canada, it wasn’t arduous to pinpoint what went wrong.
The bench was too brief all through the event, particularly within the gold medal sport. The veterans didn’t have contemporary legs, and gamers who confirmed promise in earlier video games or different ranges heading into the Games had little to no alternative to make a distinction. There was an over-reliance on USA’s core, and little belief in among the youthful gamers like Zumwinkle, Harvey and Jincy Dunne. The energy play struggled all through the final yr, with few options to make it click on persistently regardless of the gifted gamers out there. And together with a scarcity of tactical changes from sport to sport in all conditions, in-game tweaks have been few and much between.
Just a number of months later after a silver medal end in Beijing, USA appears to be on the fitting path to rebound from these shortcomings, although — and far of it stems from a brand new voice behind the bench in Wroblewski.
While Wroblewski doesn’t assume the “bones of the program” want an overhaul, the teaching employees has been working with the gamers to tweak methods.
“We feel like there’s just a few degrees, a few tweaks here and there that are going to give us a little bit more predictability in some areas, which will lead to players looking like they’re playing fast or they’ll be jumping quicker in spots, and being prepared to back each other up in certain areas,” Wroblewski defined.
One of these tweaks is with the distribution of ice time, which the coaches plan to “aggregate as equally as possible” to open the event.
Overall, USA is trying to rebound by being a more durable opponent to play towards — “a team that’s focused on thriving on the turnover,” Wroblewski stated, emphasizing the tenacity of this group. Canada set the bar because the hardest opponent within the final yr, now USA has to attempt to match it.
(Photo of Savannah Harmon, Hannah Brandt and Hilary Knight on the 2022 Olympic Winter Games: George Walker IV / USA Today)