Team USA has been a powerhouse in women's ice hockey since it was first contested at the Olympic Winter Games in 1998. In five Games, the U.S. women have earned one bronze medal (2006), three silver medals (2002, 2010, 2014) and one gold – the first gold medal in women's Olympic ice hockey history. To celebrate World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend (Oct. 10-11), TeamUSA.org looks back at 16 great Olympic performances by the women of Team USA.
1) Karen Bye-Dietz, Nagano 1998
One of the pioneers of women's ice hockey, Bye-Dietz served as alternate captain on the first-ever U.S. women's Olympic team at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games. She led the way in scoring with 5 goals and 3 assists as the U.S. captured gold. At the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games, she scored 3 goals and 3 assists, and went on to become just the fifth woman inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.
2) Gretchen Ulion, Nagano 1998
Ulion joined the U.S. national team in 1993 and continued to play long enough to experience her sport's debut at the Olympics. In 1998, Ulion led Team USA in assists with 5 and also scored 3 goals to tie for the four-way lead in points.
3) Cammi Granato, Salt Lake City 2002
Granato played in every world championship for Team USA from 1998 to 2005, captaining the U.S. to the sport's first-ever Olympic gold in 1998 and tying Bye-Dietz for the most points with 4 goals and 4 assists. She was also selected by her peers to lead the U.S. delegation into the Closing Ceremony. But it was in Salt Lake City in 2002 that she truly shone, topping the stat sheet with 6 goals and 4 assists. After a storied career, Granato earned the Lester Patrick Award for contributions to hockey in 2007 and was one of the first three women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.
4) Natalie Darwitz, Salt Lake City 2002
Darwitz was a stalwart on the U.S. team for three Olympic Winter Games. Her impact was felt immediately as she made her Olympic debut in Salt Lake City in 2002, when she led the team with 7 goals and chipped in an assist. She went on to score 3 goals and 3 assists at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, and, as team captain, contributed 4 goals and 7 assists at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She tied for the team lead in assists and tied for the team lead of points.
5) Tara Mounsey, Salt Lake City 2002
Mounsey made her Olympic debut at age 19 in 1998, when she scored 2 goals and 4 assists. Four years later, the defenseman led Team USA in assists with 7. She was one of four U.S. athletes chosen to the the Media All-Star team that year.
6) Jenny Potter, Torino 2006
Potter is one of three U.S. athletes to play in four Olympics, making her debut in 1998, when she scored 2 goals and 3 assists. In 2002, she scored 1 goal and 6 assists. She managed to better that at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, however, with 2 goals and a whopping 7 assists to lead Team USA in assists and points scored. At her fourth Olympics in Vancouver in 2010, she scored 6 goals and 5 assists for the most goals and tied Darwitz for the lead in points.
7) Katie King, Torino 2006
By the time the 2006 Olympic Winter Games rolled around, King had already played on two Olympic teams, scoring 4 goals and 4 assists in 1998 and 4 goals and 3 assists in 2002. But Torino was her time to shine, as she scored 6 goals and 2 assists to lead Team USA in goals.
8) Angela Ruggiero, Torino 2006
Ruggiero is widely regarded as being one of the greatest women's ice hockey players ever, and her Olympic achievements back that up. The defenseman competed in the first four Olympics where women's ice hockey was competed (1998-2010), first scoring a goal in 2002, when she scored 1 goal and 3 assists. In Torino, she scored 2 goals and 4 assists, and she rounded out her Olympic career in Vancouver with 3 goals and 2 assists. Ruggiero was named to the Media All-Star teams in 2002, 2006 and 2010, being the only American with the honor in 2006, and was twice given the Directorate Award for Best Defenseman.
9) Julie Chu, Torino 2006
Chu joins Potter and Ruggiero as the only U.S. women's hockey four-time Olympians, competing from 2002-2014. After scoring 2 goals and 2 assists in 2002, Chu's most successful Games came in Toronto when she was responsible for 5 assists, the second-most on the team. She added 2 goals and 4 assists in Vancouver in 2010 and 1 assist in Sochi in 2014. Chu was selected as the U.S. flag bearer for the 2014 Closing Ceremony, joining Granato as the only women's hockey players to earn that honor. With their four medals, Chu, Potter and Ruggiero are tied as the second-most decorated U.S. women in winter Olympic history.
10) Molly Engstrom, Vancouver 2010
Engstrom may not have scored any points in her Olympic debut in 2006, but at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games she made her presence felt. She scored 3 goals and 4 assists, earning Media All-Star honors and dethroning Ruggiero to earn the Directorate Award for Best Defenseman.
11) Jessie Vetter, Vancouver 2010
Perhaps no position is more scrutinized than the goalie, and it took an outstanding performance by Vetter to backstop Team USA to a silver medal in Vancouver. At her Olympic debut, Vetter posted a .958 save percentage and a record of 3-0-0-1, playing 239:50 minutes in net. She remained in top form at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games as well, with a .907 save percentage and 2-0-1-1 record in 246:02 minutes. Her saves in Sochi totaled 78, the most for a U.S. women's goaltender in an Olympic tournament.
12) Hilary Knight, Sochi 2014
Knight made her Olympic debut in Vancouver in 2010, scoring 1 goal and tying for the team lead of 7 assists. At the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Knight scored 3 goals and 3 assists to tie for the team leads in goals and points and earn Media All-Star honors. She has since established herself as one of the top women's ice hockey players in the world.
13) Amanda Kessel, Sochi 2014
Kessel earned the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award for the top women's collegiate player in the country, and she wasted no time making her presence felt in her Olympic debut in Sochi. She scored 3 goals and 3 assists to tie with Knight for the team lead in points and was named a Media All-Star.
14) Alex Carpenter, Sochi 2014
The second-youngest member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team and the daughter of former NHL player Bobby Carpenter, Alex Carpenter had a lot to prove. She lived up to all expectations at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, netting a team-leading 4 goals and adding an assist.
15) Megan Bozek, Sochi 2014
They say the best offense is a good defense, and Bozek came up big from the blue line for Team USA at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. She scored 1 goal and 4 assists and earned Media All-Star honors as the highest-scoring defenseman.
16) Jocelyne Lamoureux, Sochi 2014
Lamoureux's Olympic career was off to a strong start at her debut in Vancouver, where she scored 2 goals and 4 assists. Four years later in Sochi, she proved herself as a leader, racking up 5 assists, the most on Team USA.