There’s excitement in the air here at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota, where 40 of the top female hockey players in the U.S. are gathered this week for a selection camp that will culminate with a select group being invited to be part of a residency program in preparation for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
The Super Rink, one of the most celebrated venues in the world with eight ice surfaces under one roof, will serve as the home base for the USA Hockey women’s national team residency program, which will begin in early October and run up to late January when the final 23-player Olympic team will head to Beijing, China, for the Winter Games and the biggest stage in sports.
“To be selected for this camp is quite an accomplishment,” said Katie Million, director of women’s national team programs for USA Hockey. “Young kids grow up dreaming of playing on an Olympic team, and while some at this camp are already Olympians, many are trying to make their first Olympic team. It’s an exciting time and we wish all of our athletes the very best this week.”
Of the players here in Blaine this week, 18 are Olympians, including 14 who helped the U.S. to an Olympic gold medal in 2018. That leaves 22 seeking to make their first-ever Olympic team. The time here in Blaine will include five days of practices and games.
Joel Johnson, interim head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, is among those who will be watching closely.
“The talent level of players in our country is better than ever, and as a country, we can be proud of how hockey continues to develop,” said Johnson, who serves as the associate head coach of the University of Minnesota women’s ice hockey team. “There will be difficult decisions this week and that’s a credit to the players here and all who have helped in their development along the way.”
The camp this week is closed, not only from the standpoint of the pandemic, but also to allow the athletes to focus on the matter at hand.
The camp staff features a who’s who of hockey royalty, including Olympians Jenny Potter (1998-gold, 2002-silver, 2006-bronze, 2010-silver), Natalie Darwitz (2002-silver, 2006-bronze, 2010-silver), Courtney Kennedy (2002-silver, 2006-bronze), Brianne McLaughlin-Bittle (2010-silver; 2014-silver), Mark Johnson (1980-gold) and John Harrington (1980-gold).
The IIHF Women’s World Championship is normally held in April each year, but as with many things over the last 15 months, the pandemic upset the proverbial apple cart forcing postponement of the event. The good news is the event has been re-scheduled for August 20-31 in Calgary. The U.S. roster will come from among those players selected for residency.
USA Hockey staged its women’s national team residency program at the Super Rink in preparation for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games … USA Hockey will conduct its women’s national team festival at the Super Rink in early August, including the U.S. Women’s National Team camp in preparation for the IIHF Women’s World Championship. A complete schedule will be available later in the summer … Team USA will enter the 2022 Olympic Winter Games as the defending gold medalist in women’s ice hockey. Additionally, the U.S. has earned gold in eight of the last nine IIHF Women’s World Championships.