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U.S. Staff Makes Tough Decisions to Finalize World Championship Roster

By Dan Scifo, 04/02/24, 7:30PM EDT


The fifth episode of “Defending Their Ice” shows how John Wroblewski and his staff selected its final roster.

Before each international tournament, the U.S. Women’s National Teamholds an evaluation camp to help select its final roster.

The top 39 players from around the country recently traveled to Lake Placid, New York, for the U.S. Women’s National Team Evaluation Camp. The final roster was named at the conclusion of the camp, as evaluators and members of the coaching staff selected 25 players to compete in the upcoming IIHF Women’s World Championship, set for April 3-14 in Utica, New York.

In the fifth part of the six-episode docuseries “Defending Their Ice: The Story of the U.S. Women’s National Team,” viewers received a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the evaluation camp. The episode featured interviews with players competing for a spot on the national team and a look at closed-door conversations that took place between coaches and team officials during the evaluation process.

The episode, titled “The Chosen,” airs 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, April 3, on NHL Network following Team USA’s first preliminary round game against Switzerland. 

“It’s high intensity and stressful for all of us,” said Katie Million, USA Hockey’s director of women’s national team programs. “Obviously, everybody wants to perform at their best. Some of the best part of my job is telling somebody they’ve made the team, but then there’s the horrible side where I have to tell somebody they didn’t make the team. It’s exciting once we get down to the final roster and have a mission to accomplish.”

The 39 players invited represented 10 different universities and five professional women’s hockey teams. John Wroblewski, head coach of the national team, explained that each invited player had a breakdown that included a grade, a ranking and comments attached. Then, evaluators gather as a group and watch all the video.

“For some, it’s a tryout,” Wroblewski said. “The other focus is possibly to take somebody’s job … to take a spot. Because once you make this team, you want to be part of the program for possibly the next 15 years. That’s the type of player we need in our program.”

Wroblewski added that the coaches and officials offered a melting pot of different opinions on the 39 players evaluated. They also consider the players who can provide the right energy to the locker room and others who can execute the systems when needed in pressure situations.

As the camp ended, an exhibition game against Czechia served as the final opportunity for several players to prove why they belonged on the roster. Immediately after the game, the coaching staff and evaluators met one final time to determine the roster.

“I think we’re doing right by the program at the end of the day,” Wroblewskisaid.

Several players were also highlighted throughout the camp. It ranged from younger players trying to make the team for the first time, veterans attempting to hold onto their spots and others seeking a return to the roster.

Players highlighted in the episode included defender Megan Keller and forwards Joy Dunne, Kirsten Simms, Laila Edwards, Jesse Compher, Grace Zumwinkle and Kendall Coyne Schofield. Six of those seven players ended up making the final roster, with Keller, Dunne, Simms, Edwards, Zumwinkleand Coyne Schofield making the team.

Coyne Schofield, a three-time Olympian and former U.S. captain, is returning to the Women’s World Championship after giving birth to her son, Drew, last July.

“It’s been a very exciting, emotional, life-changing year for me, starting with the birth of my son,” Coyne Schofield said. “I know that nothing is guaranteed. I know it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been part of this program. All I can do is put my head down, work and be the best player and person I know I can be.”

Million explained that it’s a difficult and stressful week for all involved.

“It’s exciting to take a team to the World Championship,” Million said. “We’re going bold and we’re doing some different things. We’re not only putting together a roster that we think can win a gold medal on April 14, but also a team that we think can go to [the 2026 Olympics in] Milano Cortina and get a gold medal there, as well.”

You can see the full U.S. roster for the Women’s World Championship HERE.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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