When it comes to women’s hockey, expectations for the United States are very high, no matter the team or tournament in question.
Team USA will be looking to return to the podium after finishing in third place at the 2017 Winter World University Games, a bi-annual tournament with the U.S. roster featuring players that compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).
Following a 6-1 win over China on Friday, the Americans will face the host Russians in Sunday’s semifinals. The U.S. finished fourth in the preliminary round with a 2-3 record, just edging out China for the final playoff berth thanks to a 6-1 victory in the last game of the round.
“I don’t feel pressure [personally], but I do feel pressure [as a team] because of the women’s national team success.” U.S. forward Britt Levasseur said.
It will be a tough task facing Russia, a team that finished the preliminary round with a perfect 5-0 record and a +39 goal differential.
Levasseur is one of only four returning players from the 2017 Winter World University Games team. With only four returners on the roster, many of these players are donning a Team USA jersey and playing international hockey for the first time.
“I think the most I can do for them is to tell them and reassure them that it’s just a hockey game,” Levasseur said. “At the end of the day — whether we are playing Japan or Russia — it’s a hockey game. Play hockey as you know and realize mistakes will happen, but it’s what you do after those mistakes that define the player you are.”
Levasseur, a junior at second-ranked Adrian College in Michigan, learned valuable lessons from seeing action two years ago at the Winter World University Games.
“The pace is a lot quicker than the ACHA, which can be quite a shock to many,” Levasseur said. “I think it’s helped me prepare for what is to come more, so that I can be able to compete at that high level.”
This opportunity also gives players like Levasseur a chance to be noticed by USA Hockey to perhaps be considered if a spot on the national team opens up.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to get noticed by USA Hockey especially at this type of venue,” she said. “It is on the big stage with the big lights, so it is one that can be used as a way to be noticed by USA Hockey, so I hope that is the case.”
While that is still a dream for players such as Levasseur, representing the U.S. in international competition isn’t any longer.
“It isn’t an everyday honor to be able to step foot on the ice wearing a Team USA jersey, so I take pride in that,” Levasseur said. “Along with that I need to realize that I will make mistakes but it’s about what I do after that that will set the tone and attitude for me. For the team, I just want everyone to be having fun and playing the best hockey we possibly can to bring home another medal.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
|Fri., March 1||Japan
|Krasnoyarsk, Russia||Pervomaisky Ice Arena||L, 1-2||Stats||--|
|Sun., March 3||Switzerland
|Krasnoyarsk, Russia||Pervomaisky Ice Arena||W, 5-2||Stats||--|
|Mon., March 4||Canada
|Krasnoyarsk, Russia||Pervomaisky Ice Arena||L, 0-1||Stats||--|
|Wed., March 6||Russia
|Krasnoyarsk, Russia||Pervomaisky Ice Arena||L, 0-10||Stats||--|
|Fri., March 8||China
|Krasnoyarsk, Russia||Pervomaisky Ice Arena||W, 6-1||Stats||--|
|Sun., March 10||Russia
|Krasnoyarsk, Russia||Arena Sever||7:30 p.m./7:30 a.m.||Stats||Stream|
|Mon., March 11||Third-Place Game||Krasnoyarsk, Russia||Arena Sever||4:00 p.m./4:00 a.m.||--||Stream|
|Championship||Krasnoyarsk, Russia||Arena Sever||7:30 p.m./7:30 a.m.||--||Stream|