It doesn’t matter if Brianna Decker is playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team or coaching the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team, she loves to win.
Decker added to an already-decorated career with her first gold medal as an assistant coach, helping the U.S. capture the IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship earlier this month. She has quickly shifted her focus to the final three games of the 2019-20 Rivalry Series — while also lacing up her skates for the U.S. team that took part in the first-ever 3-on-3 event at last weekend’s NHL All-Star Weekend — as Decker and the U.S. Women’s National Team will face Canada three times in six days, beginning Monday in Victoria, British Columbia.
“I think we’re going to have some great crowds and I think our team’s going to be ready to go,” Decker said. “We have a lot on the line, and we want to make sure we win the series. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been out for a bit. Obviously, I’m pretty excited to be back.”
The U.S. and Canada have battled in the gold-medal game of every IIHF Women’s World Championship and Olympic Winter Games with the lone exception of the 2006 Olympics and 2019 World Championship.
Decker, a member of the 2018 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic Team, missed the first two December Rivalry Series games, which the U.S. swept by a combined 6-2 margin in Hartford, Connecticut, and Moncton, New Brunswick, three days later.
Later that month, Decker served as an assistant coach with the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team for the second straight season. She helped the 2019-20 squad to its eighth gold medal in the tournament, as the U.S. clinched the championship with a 2-1 overtime win against Canada.
“I think, as a coach, it’s my proudest moment with USA Hockey,” Decker said. “When you win as a player, you know how much work you put in individually and as a team. It’s just a different feeling. When you’re a player, you prepare to be your best, and as a coach, you prepare your players to be their best. You don’t have control. You can only do so much, and they have to go out there and do it.”
Decker also made history at the event by becoming the first woman to win the gold medal at the Olympic Games and Women’s World Championship as a player, and a U-18 Women’s worlds gold medal both as an assistant coach and a player.
“I’ve talked to so many people and they say that I’m so lucky to be able to play and coach at the same time,” Decker said. “You learn a lot and I think it’s helped for me to coach and continue to be able to play as well. Obviously, the player role comes first, but I’m thankful to be able to coach.”
As a player, Decker is a two-time Olympic medalist (silver in 2014, gold in 2018), a six-time world champion (2011, 2013-19), and a two-time Under-18 world champion (2008–09).
Decker made her USA Hockey coaching debut during the 2018 Under-18 Series against Canada and later helped lead the U.S. to a silver medal during the 2019 Under-18 worlds in Obihiro, Japan.
At the team’s recent triumph in Bratislava, Slovakia, Decker worked under head coach Maura Crowell and alongside assistants Meredith Roth and Josh Sciba.
“I’m obviously very thankful for the opportunity, and thankful to work with Maura, Josh and Meredith,” Decker said. “It’s a great group of role models for me and they took me under their wing this year. It was a really exciting moment for those girls and I couldn’t be more proud of how we played throughout the tournament.”
Now, Decker is preparing for the Rivalry Series against Canada.
“I’m excited to get back into it,” Decker said. “Anytime you’re out for a long time, it’s tough to get back, but my teammates have been great and very supportive. I’m excited to be able to go out there and compete with them because I missed it.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
|Date||Opponent||TIME (ET)/Result||Location||Broadcast||Tickets/U.S. Player Of The Game||Game Stats|
|Sat., Dec. 14*||Canada||W, 4-1||XL Center
|Tue., Dec. 17||Canada||W, 2-1||Avenir Centre
|NHL Network||Alex Carpenter||Stats|
|Mon., Feb. 3||Canada||L, 2-3 (OT)||Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre
|NHL Network||Hilary Knight||Stats|
|Wed., Feb. 5||Canada||W, 3-1||Rogers Arena
|NHL Network||Katie Burt||Stats|
|Sat., Feb. 8||Canada||W, 4-3 (OT)||Honda Center
|NHL Network||Megan Bozek||Stats|
*The December 14 game in Hartford was part of the 2019 Team USA Champions Series, presented by Xfinity.