Lacey Eden skated with Team USA as a member of the 2021 U.S. Women’s National Team in last year’s International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship. She was invited to the initial Olympic Residency Roster last year, but was one of the last cuts in December before the team competed at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
So for Eden, making the USA roster for the 2022 IIHF World Championship that starts this week in Denmark means a lot to her.
“Just being able to put on the USA jersey again is amazing. We’re going into this with a lot to prove and a lot to and I’m just trying to help the team out,” Eden said. “It’s something that I’ve been working for my whole life, and to get that experience last year [at IIHF World Championship], I feel like going into this year, I have more confidence.”
Eden is one of many returning players to the IIHF World Championship this year, with games scheduled from Aug. 25-Sept. 4 in Frederikshavn and Herning, Denmark. Eden joins a veteran team, including 18 players from the silver-medal-winning Olympic team in Beijing. Hilary Knight, for example, makes her 12th appearance at the women’s world championship. Kendall Coyne Schofield is back for her ninth world championship.
Along with forwards Knight and Coyne Schofield, the other returning Olympians include forwards Hannah Brandt, Alex Carpenter, Jesse Compher, Amanda Kessel, Kelly Pannek, Abby Roque, Hayley Scamurra and Grace Zumwinkle; defenders Cayla Barnes, Jincy Dunne, Savannah Harmon, Caroline Harvey, Megan Keller, Lee Stecklein; and goaltenders Maddie Rooney and Nicole Hensley.
Having mostly the same core group together again helps, too, because of the strong leadership of some of the veteran players, Eden said.
Lacey Eden tries to get a shot off during gold medal game action at the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
“Familiarity is huge,” Eden said. “It’s everything. Especially getting to play with them all last year, knowing who you’re on the ice with, being able to connect better. It just makes practices flow a lot better."
While the roster is very similar to previous tournaments, there’s a new head coach in John Wroblewski, who was hired in May after Joel Johnson stepped down. Wroblewski, a Neenah, Wisconsin, native, most recently spent two seasons as the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign. He was also the head coach of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program for four seasons.
Josh Sciba and Shelley Looney join Wrobleski as assistant coaches.
Practices prior to the world championship games were spent getting used to the new coaching staff and style, Eden said.
“He’s really pushing us to focus on attention to small details that sometimes are overlooked,” Eden said.
Keeping some of those small details in mind and emphasizing the skills the players already have is helpful and will create more opportunities for the team, according to Eden. What kind of small details are they focusing on?
Playing along the wall, for one thing.
“Wall play is emphasized,” Eden said. “If you can win the battles on the wall, you can win the game. Getting the puck off the wall to the middle of the ice and getting opportunities. Bearing down when you get a scoring chance and making sure you put it in the back of the net.”
Team USA starts the schedule with a game on Aug. 25 against Japan, but a matchup with rival Canada looms on Aug. 30, and there’s always the potential for the two to meet in the championship game.
With a 3-2 loss to Canada in the Olympic gold medal game over the winter, coupled with a 3-2 overtime loss in last year’s world championship gold medal game, there’s no doubt that Team USA wants to get a victory against its biggest rival.
“The games against Canada are always cut-throat,” Eden said. “Competition stems from a deep rivalry that goes back forever in women’s hockey. And I think the past couple losses that we’ve had to them is just fuel even more."
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.