After settling for a third-place finish last year, the U.S. is aiming for gold at next week’s Four Nations Cup in Kamloops, British Columbia. As the next Olympic cycle officially kicks off, nine players will be make their senior team debut with the squad. In all, 23 players will be suiting up for Team USA. With the tournament getting started next Tuesday, Nov. 4, here are some quick thoughts highlighting the U.S. roster.
#29 – Brianne McLaughlin (Sheffield Village, Ohio) – Burlington Barracudas (CWHL)
#30 – Molly Schaus (Natick, Mass.) – Boston Blades (CWHL)
#33 – Alex Rigsby (Delafield, Wis.) – University of Wisconsin (WCHA)
- Brianne McLaughlin-Bittle and Molly Schaus both captured silver with Team USA at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. However, Jessie Vetter, the team’s starter at both of those Olympic tournaments, will be sitting this one out.
- With Vetter out, Alex Rigsby should finally get a well-deserved chance to show what she can do between the pipes at the international level. She finished up at Wisconsin last year with a career .941 save percentage and 1.50 goals-against average, and she’s been ready for this opportunity for quite a bit.
#2 – Lee Stecklein (Roseville, Minn.) – University of Minnesota (WCHA)
#5 – Megan Keller (Farmington, Mich.) – Boston College (WHEA)
#7 – Monique Lamoureux (Grand Forks, N.D.) – Boston Blades (CWHL)
#8 – Emily Pfalzer (Getzville, N.Y.) – Boston College (WHEA)
#9 – Megan Bozek (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) – Toronto Furies (CWHL)
#22 – Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) – Boston Blades (CWHL)
#23 – Michelle Picard (Taunton, Mass.) – Harvard University (ECAC)
#28 – Alyssa Gagliardi (Raleigh, N.C.) – Boston Blades (CWHL)
- After spending the majority of her college career with North Dakota on defense, Monique Lamoureux will dress as a defenseman with the U.S. for the first time. She’s plenty capable of creating offense and putting up points from the blue line, as she showed with UND, and she should provide Team USA with some quality minutes at both ends of the ice at her new position.
- This will be Emily Pfalzer’s first action with the senior team, after making an impact with the Under-22 Team this summer. As a senior with Boston College, she is playing extremely well this season and has made significant strides from where she was at a year ago.
- Megan Keller is also making her debut as one of the youngest players on the roster. She saw some pretty big minutes with the U22s against Canada and has stepped right in for BC as only a freshman. She’s got a ways to go before becoming a complete player but the raw tools are certainly there.
- As has been the case for a couple of years now, expect Kacey Bellamy and Megan Bozek to lead the way for this group, particularly Bozek, who really emerged in 2013 as a big-time defender for Team USA. She’s the cornerstone of this defense now and is the team’s most effective blue-liner on both sides of the puck.
#11 – Haley Skarupa (Rockville, Md.) – Boston College (WHEA)
#14 – Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.) – Boston Blades (CWHL)
#16 – Amanda Pelkey (Montpelier, Vt.) – University of Vermont (WHEA)
#18 – Shiann Darkangelo (Brighton, Mich.) – Quinnipiac University (ECAC)
#20 – Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights, Minn.) – University of Minnesota (WCHA)
#24 – Dani Cameranesi (Plymouth, Minn.) – University of Minnesota (WCHA)
#25 – Alex Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.) – Boston College (WHEA)
#26 – Kendall Coyne (Palos Heights, Ill.) – Northeastern University (WHEA)
#27 – Annie Pankowski (Laguna Hills, Calif.) – University of Wisconsin (WCHA)
#32 – Dana Trivigno (Setauket, N.Y.) – Boston College (WHEA)
#37 – Paige Savage (John’s Creek, Ga.) – Northeastern University (WHEA)
- Hannah Brandt makes her return to the senior team after being cut from the Olympic centralization roster last season. She first debuted with the national team at the senior at the 2012 World Championships, when she was just 18 years old and still in high school. After an 82-point freshman season with Minnesota, cutting Brandt last year was one of Team USA’s most perplexing moves. As a high-end offensive talent who back-checks every single time up the ice, she is the total package as a player and her return to the senior team should be more than welcome.
- Brianna Decker, Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, and Hilary Knight are the lone returning forwards from the 2014 Olympic squad, and will absolutely be counted on to lead the way offensively.
- Annie Pankowski was centralized with the team for part of last season, and was one of the final cuts made to the Olympic roster. As a freshman with Wisconsin this season, she’s put up 12 points in 10 games so far. She wasn’t really featured at all up front last season, so it’ll be interesting to see if she spends time in a more prominent offensive role at this tournament, with so many other young forwards on the roster.
- Haley Skarupa and Dana Trivigno are both playing key roles in Boston College’s offense this season. The most notable characteristic of that offense is the willingness of the Eagles’ forwards to use their skill to make a play. They play with a lot of confidence and aren’t afraid in the least to get creative. Those are traits that both Skarupa and Trivigno possess, and the U.S. is surely hoping they’ll make use of them in this tournament.
- Amanda Pelkey was kept quiet in this summer’s U22 Series against the Canadians, and there are certainly players with more dynamic ability. But the Vermont senior has developed into a very good all-around player over the years, and if she can use her speed, she’ll be an effective player for Team USA.
- One player who could surprise some people with the impact she could make next week: Shiann Darkangelo. She has yet to really find the form she was in last season with Quinnipiac, but the potential is there. She’s also one of the U.S.’s biggest forwards, and her size will be an asset, especially against Canada.