Olympic Women’s Hockey: United States Roster Preview

With puck drop for the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament set for Saturday, Feb. 8, here’s a look at the roster of Team USA. They’ll be looking to take home the gold for the first time since 1998.

Goaltenders

#29 – Brianne McLaughlin

Hometown: Sheffield Village, Ohio

Previous Team: Burlington Barracudas (CWHL)

McLaughlin hasn’t seen action for the U.S. since a 3-2 loss to Canada back on Oct. 12, but she’s been a back-up with the U.S. national team for a few years now. She won a silver medal with a team at the 2010 Olympics, and has played in the past three IIHF World Championships. She also owns the NCAA record for career saves with 3,809. She’ll slot in as the third goalie on the depth chart, and probably won’t be relied on in a big spot unless needed.

#30 – Molly Schaus

Hometown: Natick, Mass.

Previous Team: Boston Blades (CWHL)

U.S. goaltender Molly Schaus, who made 17 saves in a 4-1 victory. (SaraMelikian/Flickr)

Molly Schaus (SaraMelikian/Flickr)

Schaus was also a member of the silver medal-winning squad in Vancouver, though she wasn’t Team USA’s go-to goaltender. She’s played in four World Championships, but missed the most recent Worlds in 2013. She was a First Team All-American as a senior at Boston College, and has started to challenge Jessie Vetter for the #1 goaltending spot. She went 3-1 in international play this season with a 1.75 goals against average and .901 save percentage. Schaus has been splitting games with Vetter and, if she plays well in Sochi, could earn the starting role in the most important games.

#31 – Jessie Vetter

Hometown: Cottage Grove, Wis.

Previous Team: Oregon Outlaws (GLHL)

Vetter back-stopped the Americans to a silver medal in Vancouver in 2010, and has won four World Championships since 2008. In her NCAA career at Wisconsin, she was a two-time All-American and won three national championships. There’s no doubt that Vetter knows how to win hockey games, but there’s definitely been some competition between her and Schaus. Vetter posted a 2.16 GAA and .897 save percentage to go along with a 3-2 record this year, and should have the inside track to the starting role, but will have to play well enough early on to earn it.

When Team USA was playing poorly early on in the season, its goaltending was partially why. It wasn’t awful, but it was definitely inconsistent; the good news is both Schaus and Vetter have looked a lot better in recent games, and that’s helped the team succeed. They’re both good goaltenders who are more than capable of playing at this level, but at least one of them is going to have to establish herself as the go-to option. Vetter is likely ahead of Schaus, but since they’ve been splitting games it’s hard to tell right now who will get the nod in a must-win game.

Defense

#2 – Lee Stecklein

Hometown: Roseville, Minn.

2012-2013 Team: Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA)

Stecklein was an important top-four player for the Gophers last year as only a freshman, helping them win a national title. She played in the 2013 World Championships but did not dress for the gold medal game, so she was a bit of a longshot to make this final roster. The offensive side of her game isn’t quite there yet, but her defensive game is pretty mature for a 19-year-old. She’s the tallest defenseman on the roster at 6’0″, and will be a good depth option for the U.S.

#9 – Megan Bozek

Hometown: Buffalo Grove, Ill.

2012-2013 Team: Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA)

Bozek first represented the senior team at the 2012 World Championships, and since then she has developed into one of the best defensemen in the world. She’s great at generating offense, and is an especially good power play option; she’s very good in her own end as well. She was tied for second on the team in scoring with three goals and 10 points in nine games this season. Bozek’s excellent play was a crucial part of Minnesota’s back-to-back national championships in 2012 and 2013, and she’ll be one of the biggest players on defense for the United States in Sochi.

#15 – Anne Schleper

Hometown: St. Cloud, Minn.

2012-2013 Team: Boston Blades (CWHL)

Schleper, another former Gopher, made her first appearance in a major tournament at the 2011 World Championships and has stuck with the squad since then. She’s always had good offensive tools, but her defensive game has come a long way over the past few years. She can be relied upon to make good plays at both ends of the ice, and also adds a physical presence to this group of U.S. defenders. Schleper should garner top-four minutes as well as some power play time.

#19 – Gigi Marvin

Hometown: Warroad, Minn.

2012-2013 Team: Boston Blades (CWHL)

Marvin won a silver medal with the squad at the 2010 Olympics, but as a forward, not as a defenseman. She made the switch to the blue line in 2012, helping to add skill and vision to the back-end. She’s improved over the past couple of years, but she’s still raw defensively. This season she was second on the team in defensive scoring with three goals and seven points in nine games. Marvin’s strength is getting the attack started from the blue line and controlling the puck. She’ll be counted on to help move out of the defensive zone fairly easily and to control things in the offensive end.

#22 – Kacey Bellamy

Hometown: Westfield, Mass.

2012-2013 Team: Boston Blades (CWHL)

Kacey Bellamy (SaraMelikian/Flickr)

Kacey Bellamy (SaraMelikian/Flickr)

Bellamy is the lone remaining defender who was on the 2010 Olympic team; Marvin was still playing forward back then. She’ll absolutely be looked at as a leader on the blue line, and besides Bozek is probably the team’s best two-way defender. There’s a feisty side to her game, and she’s at her best when she’s playing with an edge defensively. But Bellamy also has good offensive instincts, especially when it comes to her vision and passing. She’ll be a big part of the U.S.’s transition game.

#23 – Michelle Picard

Hometown: Taunton, Mass.

2012-2013 Team: Harvard Crimson (ECAC)

As one of the youngest members of the defensive corps (and the team), Picard played in both the 2012 and 2013 World Championships for Team USA. In her two years at Harvard she’s already logged big minutes. She’s not a flashy player but she has a very well-rounded defensive game. Despite being the shortest defenseman on the roster at 5’4″, she does a good job of protecting the crease. Picard will see time in key defensive situations for Team USA and will play some kind of a shutdown role in Sochi.

#24 – Josephine Pucci

Hometown: Pearl River, N.Y.

2012-2013 Team: Harvard Crimson (ECAC)

Pucci has been with the team since the 2011 World Championships, but missed all of last season as well as the 2013 World Championships with a concussion. She’s good to go now, though, having played in nine international games this season, and that’s great news for the U.S. By her junior season with the Crimson, she was eating up huge minutes in all situations for them. Like Picard, Pucci is responsible defensively, but she’s also got more offensive upside. She’s pretty versatile and that will greatly help the United States round out its pairings.

Team USA opted to take only 11 forwards so that they could have more defensive depth with seven blue-liners. With Bozek, Marvin, and Bellamy, they’ve got three capable puck-movers and some good options on the power play; Schleper will be able to help out there too. Picard and Pucci can help fill more of the defensive roles, and Stecklein can slot in on a lower pairing and provide solid play as needed. The Americans’ transition game will be very important to their success, and it’ll start from the defense. The D corps will need to be able to handle constant pressure on the forecheck without getting hemmed in and turning the puck over.

Forwards

#7 – Monique Lamoureux

Hometown: Grand Forks, N.D.

2012-2013 Team: University of North Dakota (WCHA)

Lamoureux was apart of the 2010 team that took home silver, and will definitely be a big part of the squad’s offensive core this time around. She’s one of the most dominant, productive players on the planet, and will be one of a few different players counted on to score. She scored a goal and five assists in nine games this season, and though she struggled a little (like most of the team) early on, she’s looked a lot more comfortable in the most recent games. She’s extremely talented and knows how to score goals, but also plays with a physical edge that benefits her when it comes to winning battles.

#10 – Meghan Duggan

Hometown: Danvers, Mass.

2012-2013 Team: Boston Blades (CWHL)

Duggan also won a silver medal at the 2010 Games, and will captain the team this time around. She’s always been a leader for the team, and will obviously take on those responsibilities in Sochi. But as a former Patty Kazmaier Award winner, she brings more to the table than just intangibles. Duggan’s finally showing it again this season after dealing with injuries over the past couple of years. She was one of the Americans’ best players even when they were playing poorly in October and November, and has looked comfortable on a line with the Lamoureux twins. She’s also a really good two-way player and will most likely be featured in that kind of top-nine role.

#13 – Julie Chu

Hometown: Fairfield, Conn.

2012-2013 Team: Montreal Stars (CWHL)

Chu is the only member of the squad who’s competed at more than one Olympics before; she played in the 2002, 2006, and 2010 Games. She’s also the only player who’s over the age of 30, so she’s a bit past her prime now, but she brings some valuable experience to the club. She’s not going to play on a top scoring line for the U.S., but she’s a reliable player who can still add some offense. Chu’s not going to play a starring role up front anymore, but she’s a very good bottom-six option to have and can step up in big situations.

#14 – Brianna Decker

Hometown: Dousman, Wis.

2012-2013 Team: Wisconsin Badgers (WCHA)

Decker has emerged as one of the U.S.’s most dangerous forwards, and she’ll play a vital role in the attack. She had a great showing at the 2013 World Championships, scoring six goals and eight points in 12 games on her way to being named to the Media All-Star Team. She’s made an impact this season as well; she was tied for second on the team in scoring with 10 points in 10 international games. Decker’s got great puck skills as well as speed, and should see a lot of time on both special teams units. She’ll definitely be counted on for production in Sochi.

#16 – Kelli Stack

Hometown: Brooklyn Heights, Ohio

2012-2013 Team: Boston Blades (CWHL)

Stack missed a big chunk of last season due to a torn ACL, but there are some pretty high expectations for her after a great performance at the 2012 World Championships. She’s done a good job of meeting them this season, leading the team in scoring with 14 points in 10 games. She has an Olympic silver medal from 2010, as well as three World Championship titles in 2008, 2009, and 2011. Stack’s a really smooth, quick skater who can dish the puck well and create plenty of chances for herself and her linemates. She’ll undoubtedly play on one of Team USA’s top two lines in Sochi.

#17 – Jocelyne Lamoureux

Hometown: Grand Forks, N.D.

2012-2013 Team: University of North Dakota (WCHA)

Lamoureux was a member of the 2010 Olympic squad, and has also played in four World Championships, winning gold in three. At UND, she was a First Team All-American, a two-time WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, and finished her career as the WCHA’s all-time leading scorer with 285 career points. She plays the same bruising style as her sister and, also like Monique, is one of the team’s most dynamic offensive players. With her skillset, Lamoureux is a dominant force in the offensive zone, and should see significant time in a scoring role and on both the power play and penalty kill.

#18 – Lyndsey Fry

Hometown: Chandler, Ariz.

2012-2013 Team: Harvard Crimson (ECAC)

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Fry is one of the least-experienced players on the roster; she’ll be making her Olympic debut here in Sochi and made her World Championships debut in 2013, helping the team win gold. She’s counted on to score at Harvard, but that part of her game hasn’t translated yet to the international level. For Team USA, she’ll be more of a role player. Fry will need to provide energy during her shifts. She does have some natural scoring instincts, though, which gives the Americans’ attack some depth that could really come in handy during big games.

#21 – Hilary Knight

Hometown: Sun Valley, Idaho

2012-2013 Team: Boston Blades (CWHL)

Even though she’s only 24 years old, Knight has already represented the U.S. at one Olympics (2010) and in six World Championships. This season, she was tied for the team lead in goals with six, and was tied for second on the team in scoring with 10 points in 10 games. She’s one of Team USA’s bigger bodies up front, and is one of the best players in the world when it comes to finding the back of the net. Knight has looked great since the Four Nations Cup, and will continue to be a big part of the offensive game plan in Sochi.

#25 – Alex Carpenter

Hometown: North Reading, Mass.

2012-2013 Team: Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)

With only one major senior international tournament under her belt, in the past 10 months Carpenter has rocketed up from a rookie garnering bottom-six minutes to one of the Americans’ best forwards. She was one of the team’s best players at the 2013 World Championships, which earned her more playing time, and she’s been really good again this season. Her eight points in 10 games are good enough for sixth on the team in scoring. She’s a heady player who does well in all three zones, and at only 19 has a load of potential still to tap into.

#26 – Kendall Coyne

Hometown: Palos Heights, Ill.

2012-2013 Team: Northeastern Huskies (Hockey East)

Coyne’s been with the team since the 2011 World Championships, but this will be the first time she represents the U.S. in the Olympics. She scored a solid three goals and seven points in 10 games this season, and still looked like she was right on the edge of an offensive break-out. She might be the smallest player on the roster, but what she lacks in size she more than makes up for in speed, grit, and scoring ability. Coyne wins battles in the dirty areas as well as anyone, and has a true knack for knocking in chances in tight. She’ll no doubt play on a scoring line and will be counted on to provide an offensive spark.

#28 – Amanda Kessel

Hometown: Madison, Wis.

2012-2013 Team: Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA)

Kessel has missed the entirety of the season so far with injury, including every game against Canada as well as the Four Nations Cup. The good news, though, is she should be good to go for the Olympics, and her return to the line-up will be welcomed wholeheartedly. She scored 101 points in 37 games last year at Minnesota en route to winning the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award, which is about equal to the number of times per day you’ll hear that she is the sister of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel. She might be rusty to start, but she’s got great speed and world-class talent, and she will be a crucial part of the U.S. attack.

Team USA will have an extremely talented top-nine, with Lyndsey Fry and Julie Chu likely on the outside of that group; they’ll still give them some offensive depth, however. Even with a thinner group of forwards, they still have a good mix of dynamics up front, and they’ll be headlined by their speed and skill. They’ve got some smaller, grittier forwards like Decker and Coyne, but they’ve also got some power and force in players like the Lamoureux twins. They’ll rely a lot on their passing, but they need to be ready to play a physical game if they want to penetrate opposing defenses, especially Canada’s.

Gabriella Fundaro

Gabriella Fundaro

An avid sports and hockey fan, Gabriella began covering NCAA and IIHF women's hockey for The Hockey Writers in 2012. She is currently working towards a degree and career in journalism. She can be reached on Twitter (@gabfun) or via e-mail (gfundaro10@gmail.com).
Gabriella Fundaro

One Comment

  1. I don’t know how much to read into the games I saw against the Junior and high school Varsity boys’ teams, but here’s what I saw.

    Goalie: Vetter looks like the undisputed starting goalie, and McLaughlin got more ice time than Schaus. One of the Junior boys who didn’t get past Vetter in the shootout sweetly tweeted “And to those in Sochi, don’t go glove side on Jessie Vetter, I learned the hard way.” Vetter / Schaus have been talked of in the same breath for so long that I was surprised to see this gap, but it’s definitely there.

    Defense: I never felt more safe than when Marvin and Schleper were on the ice, and of all the defensemen it was surprisingly Schleper who impressed me most — she was probably the fastest of a very fast D corps, with a slapshot as terrifying as Marvin’s or Bozek’s, and seemed to have a very long reach with the stick to poke dangerous pucks away. The Bellamy/Bozek pairing is obviously very strong too, and Bellamy is as you say not afraid to get quite physically aggressive, which makes her very entertaining to watch.

    Forward: Kendall Coyne is the best pure skater on the team, and it’s a joy to watch her with the puck; Decker is a close second. I expect Kessel to center that line, with Fry (the current center) dropping back to fourth line with Julie Chu. Chu will see a lot of ice time, even at even strength; in one game I saw she seemed to be on in place of Hilary Knight for at least a third of Knight’s line’s shifts in the second and third period. The Stack / Knight / Carpenter line is the most exciting of the three lines to watch: Stack is a great opportunity-creator, Knight is a great opportunity-taker, and Carpenter always seems to be in the right place at the right time. This isn’t to discount the Duggoreaux line, of course, which is probably the most physically intimidating of the lines. We should see good production from all three of those lines.

    The other thing that struck me was the speed and energy of the games. I’m a big fan of Haley Skarupa, and Skarupa is fast, but right at the moment I’m not sure there’s a single player on the Olympic team that she’s faster than. The games that I saw in person, close up in Olympic-size high school rinks and with sometimes four minutes between whistles, were exhilarating and exhausting to watch. This should be a great tournament. The only sad thing is that my two favorite teams, the US and Finland, are playing in the first match and I’m sorry that one of them will have to take a loss so early.

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