Reagan Carey, USA Hockey’s director of women’s hockey, called Robb Stauber a rudder, someone who steers the U.S. women’s program in the right direction at the right time.
Now he’s taking control of the whole ship.
USA Hockey introduced Stauber as the coach of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team on Tuesday, after he was named to the position a day earlier.
“I’m not sure if anybody can plan for this, but I’m just thankful for the chance to lead our players to their dream,” Stauber said on a conference call with reporters. “I’m very excited about this opportunity to be part of a stretch run where we know our goal and objective is to come home with a gold medal.”
Stauber, a native of Medina, Minnesota, is the fourth in history to coach the U.S. women’s Olympic team, joining Mark Johnson, Ben Smith and Katey Stone.
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Stauber most recently served as the coach of the U.S. team that captured a fourth consecutive gold medal at the IIHF Women’s World Championship last month in Plymouth, Michigan. It was the first time Stauber served as head coach of Team USA during the world championships. A few months earlier Stauber guided the U.S. team in a pair of games against rival Canada, including the first-ever Team USA Winter Champions Series.
Stauber, who has filled roles in coaching, scouting and the development of goaltenders, previously served an assistant with the 2014 U.S. Olympic team. He also served on the coaching staff for five world championships and six Four Nations Cups, in addition to four stints with the U.S. Under-22 Select Team at the Under-22 Series against Canada.
Stauber also holds the distinction of being one of Carey’s first hires when she began with the program in 2010.
“Robb and I have been on a long journey together, and he’s demonstrated what a valuable and versatile coach and teacher he has been in our program,” Carey said. “I can’t say enough about Robb’s passion, vision, dedication for the game and his experience as a player and coach.
“He’s a student of the game and he gives us confidence in what lies ahead for 2018. I’m appreciative of how much time, energy, effort and patience Robb has invested over the years, and I’m really happy he’s earned this opportunity to lead a very talented, dedicated and focused group of athletes.”
Former NHL defenseman Ken Klee previously led the U.S. women’s hockey team to gold medals during the 2015 and ’16 world championships and 2015 Four Nations Cup.
“Ken did a terrific job for our team; I believe he was a great fit for us and the right coach at the right time,” Carey said. “Every season the goal was to evaluate where we were, and just really determine what was going to help us continue to push forward and make gains. Robb has been an important part of our program and a very important part of our growth and success.”
Stauber will guide the U.S. women in preparation for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, including the Four Nations Cup in November and other games that will be announced as part of the build-up to the Winter Games.
The program’s selection camp is currently taking place and the roster will be announced on Friday. The selected players will enter into the residency period, which begins in September and lasts until the team leaves for the Olympics.
Stauber, a former University of Minnesota standout, became the first goaltender to win the Hobey Baker Memorial Award before enjoying a 10-year professional career with the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres. The rest of Stauber’s coaching staff will be announced at a later date, but he intends to capitalize on his team’s skill and creativity with the puck in an effort to control the pace of the game.
“We’re very talented with the puck and we believe we have a great amount of speed,” Stauber said. “We’re very creative and we have a great imagination, so our main goal between now and the Olympics is to continue to hone and improve those skills and, at the end of the day, really put other teams under pressure.”
The ultimate goal for Stauber and his players, though, is to become the second group in organization history — joining the 1998 team — to capture an Olympic gold medal.
“It’s just an honor to be a part of and to be around such great players,” Stauber said. “Anybody that’s had a chance to see our players and be around our players, you know what an honor it is day in and day out to be surrounded by them, their energy, their effort, their attention to detail and just their commitment to a different result. I’m just very excited about the near future.”
Dan Scifo is a sportswriter from the Pittsburgh area. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.