Women’s team brings history of Olympic success to South Korea
Members of the U.S. Women’s Hockey team are, from left: Brianna Decker, Alex Rigsby, Hilary Knight, Meghan Duggan and Monique Lamoureux.
The U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey team comes into this month’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with a history of success in the tournament.
Women wearing red, white and blue have won a gold medal, three silver medals and a bronze medal in the previous five Winter Olympic Games. Of course, the gold came in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, the first time Women’s Hockey was included in the Olympics.
The team won a silver medal in 2014 in Sochi, Russia, losing in a heartbreaking final to Canada.
The 2018 edition of the squad’s best player is forward Hilary Knight, who helped Wisconsin win two national titles, is the Badgers’ all-time leading scorer and was the first American MVP of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
Knight also skated with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks during training camp last fall.
“I was a little nervous. I was just trying to fit in,” she told the Tampa Bay Times.
She impressed Ducks All-Star and former Plymouth Whaler Rickard Rakell.
“She’s very competitive and she doesn’t turn her back on anybody,” he said. “She went hard and it was pretty fun to watch.”
Knight had planned on playing in a Men’s pro league in Sweden but changed her mind after coaching a Girls Youth team in Lake Placid, N.Y., two years ago.
“There’s so many things I want to do here in the States with hockey,” Knight said. “From the grass roots level up to the professional level. So I think I should stay stateside.”
The team’s captain is forward Meghan Duggan, who sees herself as an ambassador.
“We all do. Every single one of us wants to grow the game,” Duggan said. “We want to be role models to young girls who want to join the sport. That’s something that’s important to us.”
She was motivated by the 1998 gold-medal-winning team. After seeing a picture of that squad on a cereal box, Duggan has always wanted her picture to appear on a cereal box.
“That would be the coolest thing ever,” she said.
Another notable member of the team is Amanda Kessel, the sister of Pittsburgh Penguins star Phil Kessel, who helped the Penguins win the last two Stanley Cups.
The squad features one local product, defenseman Megan Keller, who is from Farmington.
Eight teams will compete from Feb 10-25. Team USA is in Group A with Canada, Finland and Russia.