BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Switzerland goalie Florence Schelling offered a blunt assessment of her team’s chances against the United States before Friday's semifinal at the 2012 IIHF Women’s World Championship, which Team USA went on to win, 10-0.
“They’re such a strong team," Schelling, a goaltender for Northeastern University when not playing for her country. “We probably don’t stand a chance, but I’m excited just to play them.”
One big reason for Schelling’s pessimism was the play of Team USA’s top line. While the United States' team still features Olympic veterans such as Jenny Potter (four Winter Games) and team captain Julie Chu (three), the trio of Monique Lamoureux-Kolls, Kelli Stack and Jocelyne Lamoureux has been relentlessly productive through the first three games of the tournament.
Lamoureux-Kolls leads the tournament in scoring with seven goals and seven assists. Stack is second at 13 points (five goals, eight assists) and Lamoureux (four goals, five assists) is tied for third. All three represented Team USA on the silver-medal winning team in Vancouver in 2010.
“All three of us can pretty much play any role on the line,” said Stack, 24, a former Boston College star. “All three of us can score and pass and set each other up. We’re all unselfish. We’re genuinely happy when someone else gets the goal or when we set up a goal.”
The chemistry is obvious for twin sisters Lamoureux and Lamoureux-Kolls, 22, who grew up playing together, played in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games together and just finished their junior seasons at North Dakota together. They began playing on a line with Stack at last year’s World Championships.
“I think we complement each other well,” Stack added, “and I think we’re going to be pretty hard to stop.”
They’ve shown that from the start in Vermont.
In the first two Team USA games at the World Championship, the Lamoureux twins did all the goal scoring for the line, though Jocelyne Lamoureux pointed out, “All of Monique’s goals and my goals — none of them were off direct shots. They were tip-ins or rebounds. Monique and I were kind of laughing with our linemate, Stack. She had some nice toe-drags and put some pucks on net and we got the garbage she left for us.”
Young players such as Stack and the Lamoureux twins are playing a significant role in Team USA's run to the final. Ten of the 23 U.S. players were born in the 1990s, and only Potter and Chu were born before 1985. According to Team USA coach Katey Stone, the Lamoureux-Stack-Lamoureux-Kolls line exemplifies the strategy upon which the team is built.
“We’re quick and I like it, and that’s how we want to play,” said Stone, who also coaches the Harvard women’s team. “That was the model of how we wanted to play with the personnel and puck movement.”
To be sure, Team USA’s success so far in Vermont has hardly been limited to the top line. The Americans opened with a dominating 9-2 win over Canada Saturday in the tournament opener. The nine goals were the most scored by Team USA against Canada in the 103-game history between the two powers in women’s hockey. The United States advanced to the semifinals after blanking Russia, 9-0, and then Finland, 11-0, to close out the preliminary round, followed by the win over Switzerland.
The final goal for Team USA is winning a fourth consecutive title — and fifth in six years — in the gold-medal game on Saturday.