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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Olympic women’s hockey: Minnesota gives Team USA training options

In preparation for the 2018 Olympic Games in Seoul, US women’s hockey took up its training residency in Tampa, Fla. it worked. Team USA won its second gold medal since the opening of the Games in Nagano, Japan in 1998.

Still, when players were asked what they wanted from the year’s residency program, there was something that players felt was missing in Florida: sports.

It was difficult to find nearby opponents in Tampa-St. Petersburg area, and the Americans played only seven opponents before the Seoul Games. This will not be an issue as the team prepares for the 2022 Games in Beijing.

“We are really lucky to be in Minnesota,” national team coach Joel Johnson said. “There are so many options, whether it’s a high school team – boys’ team, or girls’ team, whatever it is – we have options.”

Team USA held their first practice in residence at the Blaine Super Rink on Tuesday, and will see plenty of opportunities to compete against other teams while training for the February 3-20 Games in the Chinese capital.

“The feedback was coming from Tampa… were they wanted to play more games. So, we’re advocating for more scrimmages and more opportunities,” said Johnson, longtime Gophers assistant also as the women’s coach of St. Thomas. Starting its first season as

“It’s great for us because we’re still evaluating,” he said. “We’re still trying to make sure we’re ready to compete when we play Canada.”

The first scuffle will be against the local players of the Professional Women’s Hockey Association. Johnson said the team may play with some boys’ or girls’ high school teams, as well as field junior teams from the North American Hockey League; There are teams in Richfield, Cloquet and Chippewa Falls, Wis. The players are residing throughout the metro area and all training is being done at the National Sports Centre. He had trained there even before the 2010 Games.

The United States is scheduled to play Canada eight times before the Games, where it is believed the two teams will meet for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal and a sixth of seven Winter Games. America won in the shooting in Seoul.

“It’s an intense rivalry, I think,” said winger Grace Zumwinkle, who along with forward Abby Murphy is one of two current Gophers players for 23 places on the Olympic team. A senior with a year of qualification, Zumwinkel got her first taste of rivalry at the 2021 World Championships, played 22–31 August in Calgary, where Canada assuredly won the gold medal in overtime with a 3–2 final victory. had won.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but with this residency period and the months ahead for these Olympics, we have a new sense of competitiveness and urgency,” Zumwinkel said.

The United States has won nine of the last 11 World Championships, eight of which have been won by defeating Canada in the final. This year’s loss is looming over the Blaine Residency.

“We have to get better, there’s no question,” Johnson said. “I want to get better as a coach. I’ve shared with my coaching staff that there are some things that I went back and saw how we prepared that I think I could have done differently, or better. That’s going to take my focus, and I’ve asked them to do the same, as players, to do a little self-evaluation.

“But when you look at the potential we have and how we play, I’m very excited. We have a lot of skill, we have the ability to score great goals, we have a lot of depth. It’s going to be fun ”

There are six Minnesotans on the roster, including Hill-Murray and Gophers graduate Hannah Brandt, who is 1 for 1 with the Olympic team after playing in Seoul.

“We’re excited,” she said. “We think we have a good mix of giants and rookies. We have a great team, and we’re excited to show what we can do against Canada, Sweden, Finland – whoever we are against be.”

The Canada-US final has not been the same slam dunk as before. Europe’s women’s hockey teams have been bridging the gap between North Americans for years. At the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, the US upset Sweden in the semi-finals and settled for their only bronze medal. In 2019, Finland fired in the US, beating Canada at the World Championships.

Johnson said, “We finished on the right side of it and won in the shootout, but I think if you talk to someone from Finland, they’ll say they thought they deserved better, and they did.” ”

Team USA’s final Pre-Olympic home game will be against Canada on December 20 at the ExCel Energy Center. They would then play once again in Canada, before meeting in Beijing on 7 February in pool play.

“There’s always been a rivalry between us and Canada, and it’s never going to go away — or at least not for a while,” Johnson said. “But other teams are just as competitive and they provide just as much competition. So we have to be ready to play every match.”

Olympic Schedule

The US Olympic women’s hockey team will defend its 2018 gold medal at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, February 3-16. Central at all times.

  • February 3: vs Finland, 7:10 am
  • February 5: vs Russia Olympic Committee, 9 a.m.
  • February 6: vs Switzerland, 9 a.m.
  • February 7: vs Canada, 10 p.m.
  • February 10-12: Quarter Finals, TBD
  • February 13-14: Semifinals, TBD
  • February 16: bronze-medal game, 5:30 a.m.; Gold Medal Game, 9:10 pm
World Nation News Desk
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