After a week at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., the U.S. Women’s National Team is fired up. The 53 players invited for these past five days were immediately dialed in to get back to each other, back to hockey, and back to the exciting grind of a new season.
“We’re all just so fired up, from every person on our staff to every single player, to be back together again,” said Katie Million, director of women’s national team programs of USA Hockey. “It’s been a long time coming. Having our protocols in place to safely accomplish this and to bring people from all over the country to one place has been an enormous undertaking.”
Camp got underway on Monday with strength and conditioning testing and individual team practice. Any quarantine rust from the eight months of being apart was quickly brushed off. The day was capped by an evening virtual call about team culture.
“We’ve got the on-ice talent, we’ve got the success, and if we can add significance to that, I truly believe we will find greatness,” shared Joel Johnson, assistant coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, as he led the meeting and presentation. “That’s why when we talk about culture it’s important how we treat one another because that is going to lead to us to greatness and that significance. The easy part is on the ice. The hardest part is off the ice.”
Tuesday brought the start of the scrimmages, and Team White defeated Team Red 2-0. White quickly became the team to beat as they took down Team Blue 2-1 on Wednesday. Thursday brought Red and Blue to face off for second place, which ended in Blue’s favor 2-1. Many pointed out the phenomenal goaltending performed on all teams.
On Friday, teams got another opportunity to play each other once more in abbreviated games. By end of camp, White swept the competition going 4-0, Blue finished with a record of 2-2, and Red ended 0-4. Hilary Knight and Megan Keller celebrated their team’s victory with this video, further proving how much these athletes have missed having fun together.
It wasn’t only the athletes who were ready to reunite at camp. The coaches and staff were just as eager to evaluate the players. They designed camp to ensure not a second was wasted this week. Between lifting sessions, practices, scrimmages, treatments, nutrition meetings, and film study, the players were back to work in no time.
“Everybody came back in incredible shape after the time off,” said Bob Corkum, head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team. “The commitment of these players is unmatched. They came in, and they performed.”
With camp successfully complete, the athletes, coaches, and staff all look onward to goal of this season. The team’s unwavering focus is to win gold at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, set for April 7-17.
“We want to win a world championship in the spring,” shared Brianna Decker. “And that’s what we are going to do.”