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Team USA Shifts Focus Toward Roster Selection For Women’s World Championship

By Dan Scifo, 03/28/24, 3:00PM EDT


Fourth episode of “Defending Their Ice” highlights evaluation camp for the World Championship

In the history of the IIHF Women’s World Championship, the gold-medal game has come down to the United States and Canada in 21 of the 22 tournaments.

The United States won its 10th championship last year in Brampton, Ontario and the rivalry has remained heated and intense because the U.S. and Canada have been the two best women’s hockey teams in the world for the last 30 years.

In the fourth part of the six-episode docuseries “Defending Their Ice: The Story of the U.S. Women’s National Team,” viewers witness the conclusion of the seven-game Rivalry Series between the United States and Canada and watch as the focus shifts towards the roster selection for the upcoming IIHF Women’s World Championship, set for April 3-14 in Utica, New York.

The episode, titled “A Global Game,” airs at 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday, March 30, on NHL Network.

“The rivalry between the U.S. and Canada is something that’s very difficult to describe,” said John Wroblewski, head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team. “Even though they play together, and they’ve grown up together — some played college together — all bets are off when you throw on the colors of your country. There’s a respect level, but at the same time, there’s a deep-rooted disdain at ice level.”

The U.S. won the first two games of the Rivalry Series in November on home ice and split a pair of December contests in Ontario. The U.S. defeated Canada in overtime in Game 3, and the Canadians won their first game of the series in a shootout in Game 4.

During the fourth episode, the U.S. and Canada met in back-to-back games in Saskatchewan before the final game of the Rivalry Series in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“It’s not looking too far ahead and taking these Rivalry Series games as opportunities to get better as a team and as a unit,” defender Megan Keller said. “When (the World Championship) comes, we’ll know that we’ve done everything we can to prepare and put ourselves in a position to do our best and bring home the gold.”

Following the Rivalry Series — Wroblewski challenged his group to find another level as the U.S. prepares to defend its gold medal in Utica.

“It’s got to be about that focus,” Wroblewski said. “You have to get back to that gold-medal standard, that winning standard. You have to live like a gold medalist. You have to find that edge to be your best version on that day. We want to find that edge come late March into mid-April.”

USA Hockey invited 39 athletes to the U.S. Women’s National Team Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, New York. The final roster will be named at the conclusion of the camp, as the Americans will bring 23 players and two alternates to the World Championship.

“The selection camp is an elite high-performance camp and it’s an honor to get that invitation,” said Katie Million, director of the women’s national team programs. “We’ll evaluate all the players and choose the roster of 25 that we feel is the best combination of players to go win that gold medal.”

Wroblewski said the difference between this year’s camp and last year is that the U.S. is returning as the reigning world champion. He added that there’s a certain satisfaction that comes along with that position, so current players need to validate their spot on the team, while younger, inexperienced ones make a strong case to join the group.

Jesse Compher won an Olympic silver medal in 2022 and she appeared on three other World Championship rosters. She won a gold medal with the U.S. in Finland in 2019 but was left off the roster last year.

“Getting back on that roster would be pretty special,” Compher said. “Being on the ’22 Olympic team was everything I dreamed of, but being left off the last worlds roster is something I think about every single day.”

The evaluation camp is comprised of six goalies, 12 defenders and 21 forwards. There are 13 players on professional teams, while 26 most recently played collegiate women’s hockey.

“It can be stressful and it’s definitely intimidating,” said forward Gabbie Hughes. “But once you make that roster, it’s all worth it.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc

Defending Their Ice Trailer