Familiar names highlight the squad announced Tuesday by USA Hockey that will look to bring home its fourth consecutive gold medal from the IIHF Women’s World Championship, slated for March 31-April 7 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.
An assistant coach for Team USA at the last five world championships, Robb Stauber will step up to head coaching responsibilities for the 2017 worlds. His appointment was announced Monday by USA Hockey. Stauber served as head coach in two games against Canada in December, one as part of Team USA’s Winter Champions Series.
Joining Stauber on the coaching staff is three-time Olympic hockey star Mike Richter, who will serve as goaltending coach for the first time with the women's team. A 2002 Olympic silver medalist and 1996 World Cup champion, Richter won the 1994 Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers. He is the only U.S. goalie to compete at three Olympics.
The team he leads will skate on home ice at the world championships for only the fourth time since the event began in 1980. Team USA also will be seeking its first world title on American soil. The last time the U.S. women won one of the three major tournaments (Olympic Games, world championships or Four Nations Cup) on home ice was 2008, when they took Four Nations gold in Lake Placid, New York.
Led by two-time Olympic silver medalist and six-time world champion Hilary Knight - who will be playing at her ninth worlds, the 23 players bring a wealth of experience to the fray: 17 were on the 2016 squad that defeated Canada last March in Vancouver, British Columbia, to win the title for the sixth time in seven years. Thirteen are Olympians, including seven two-time Olympians; and seven have skated in at least five world championships.
Other veterans joining Knight on the roster are Meghan Duggan, appearing in her eighth world championship; twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, skating at worlds for the seventh time; and three forwards making their sixth world championship team: Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker and Kelli Stack. Also on the squad is Alex Carpenter, whose overtime goal last year was the game-winner in the gold-medal contest.
Although the retirement of Jessie Vetter makes the goalkeeping position the one with the least experience, Stauber can look with confidence to Alex Rigsby, who stood tall to record a shutout against Canada last year in her first worlds gold-medal game start.
A gold medal in Plymouth would move Team USA a step closer to the No. 1 seed in the upcoming PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, where they will attempt to return to the top step of the podium since winning the inaugural gold medal at the Nagano 1998 Games. In what may be a harbinger for next year, the U.S. men’s team waited 20 years between their first gold medal – at the Squaw Valley 1960 Games – and their second, the legendary 1980 “Miracle on Ice.”
Ranked No. 1 in the world, Team USA will open the tournament against its arch rival and world No. 2 Canada on Friday, March 31. The Americans won’t find an easy opponent during pool play, as No. 3 Russia (April 1) and No. 4 Finland (April 3) round out their Pool A schedule. The knockout phase begins with quarterfinal action on April 4, followed by semifinals on April 6 and the medal games April 7.
U.S. Roster for 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship
(Number of Olympic, world championship teams – incl. 2017)
Goaltenders: Nicole Hensley (0, 2), Alex Rigsby (0, 4); Maddie Rooney (0, 1)
Defensemen: Kacey Bellamy (2, 8), Megan Bozek (1, 4), Kali Flanagan (0, 1), Megan Keller (0, 3), Monique Lamoureux-Morando (2, 7), Emily Pfalzer (0, 3), Lee Stecklein (1, 4)
Forwards: Hannah Brandt (0, 3), Alex Carpenter (1, 4), Kendall Coyne (1, 6), Brianna Decker (1, 6), Meghan Duggan (2, 8), Amanda Kessel (1, 3), Hilary Knight (2, 9), Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (2, 7), Gigi Marvin (2, 7), Kelly Pannek (0, 1), Amanda Pelkey (0, 2), Haley Skarupa (0, 3), Kelli Stack (2, 6)