The United States women’s hockey team will have more fresh faces than returning players on its quest for gold in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
The roster includes 13 new players and 10 mainstays from that silver medal finish at the 2014 games in Sochi. However, the rivalry with Canada is nothing new for any of the players.
The rivalry took on a new edge for Team USA after letting a 2-0 lead slip to a 3-2 heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Canadians in Sochi.
Despite this, the U.S. has been successful with its current roster turnover, sweeping the tune-up tournaments in 2017. The U.S. defeated Canada in the 2017 Women’s World Championships as well as the Four Nations Cup in the same year.
Yet, the squad lost the most recent matchup against the Canadians in its Time is Now tour to prepare for the Olympics in December. Team USA fell 2-1 in overtime, but outshot Canada 28-26.
The Americans have faced Canada in all 18 gold medal meetings in the World Championships, winning eight total and four straight. While both teams will have to play their way through the early stages of the tournament, both teams both know that they will be facing each other in the gold medal matchup.
For Team USA, players like Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne, captain Meghan Duggan and Amanda Kessel. Kessel is a player with hockey in her blood, as her older brother Phil Kessel of the Pittsburgh Penguins is one of the most prolific goalscorers in the league, as is Amanda.
Knight, one of six two-time silver medalists in the 2014 and 2010 games, makes up one of the most feared lines along with Coyne and two-time NWHL MVP Brianna Decker. Still, it will be the younger and inexperienced players that could make all the difference in the all-important matchup against Canada.
Newcomers like Hannah Brandt, Megan Keller and Dani Cameranesi are all players to look out for both the offensive and defensive sides of the ice. But they aren’t the only newcomers.
Head coach Robb Stauber took over the team in January 2017, and has transformed its style of play from one of sheer discipline and defensive to a much more free-flowing and offensive mindset.
Whether the fresh faces and new style of play will put the U.S. over the edge against Canada remains to be seen. The team’s first round prelim vs. Finland will air later today (no spoiler alert), before inevitably matching up for a gold medal grudge match.