One of two members of Team USA donning the red, white and blue for the first time this week, Hayley Scamurra (Williamsville, N.Y.) has always looked forward to an opportunity like this.
“I guess I always thought that it could happen, but as the years went on, it was more like it kind of dimmed a little bit,” Scamurra said. “There was always that small bit of hope that I was like, ‘I think it could still happen. I could still get invited.’ It’s definitely harder as you get older.”
That all changed about two months ago and now the 24-year-old is about to put on the stars and stripes for the first time as the U.S. faces rival Canada in the three-game Rivalry Series. Scamurra, a forward, and defender Savannah Harmon (Downers Grove, Ill.) — who are teammates with the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League — will be making their first appearance with Team USA at any level. Goaltender Katie Burt (Lynn, Mass.) is making her Women’s National Team debut after previously playing for the U.S. Under-18 team.
“I’m completely ecstatic,” Scamurra said. “It’s not something I was expecting to happen.”
Harmon, meanwhile, had been more on the USA Hockey radar in recent months. She was invited to a camp in Lake Placid, New York, last summer, then attended a camp in September. Harmon helped Team USA prep for the Four Nations Cup in September, then was invited to the same December camp as Scamurra.
“I think anytime you are being considered and attending camps with the best women in the country, it is such an honor,” said Harmon, 23. “So I’m super excited and looking forward to the week ahead.”
Scamurra and Harmon will practice with Team USA on Monday in Plymouth, Michigan, before heading to London, Ontario, for Tuesday’s Rivalry Series opener. Game 2 is Thursday in Toronto and the finale is Sunday in Detroit. The U.S. and Canada are the sport’s biggest rivals, with the Americans defeating their northern neighbors in two major tournaments in 2018, dramatically ending a 20-year Olympic gold-medal drought and then winning their fourth straight Four Nations Cup.
Of the 22 players on the Rivalry Series roster, 14 played on the Olympic team and 12 in the Four Nations Cup, but Harmon and Scamurra are among the new faces getting the chance to experience the rivalry up close.
Regardless of the circumstances, Harmon knows this is her best opportunity to prove herself.
“I think it is,” Harmon said, “but I’m just very excited to represent for this tournament and that’s my focus, for these three games, I just want to make sure I’m performing well and helping out the team any way I can and after this series, see where it goes from there.”
Harmon and Scamurra are two of four players from the Beauts playing for the U.S. in the Rivalry Series, joining Dani Cameranesi (Plymouth, Minn.) and Emily Pfalzer (Buffalo, N.Y.). Playing for the Beauts in the three-year-old NWHL has helped elevate both of their careers. Harmon is an All-Star in her first season, while Scamurra was Rookie of the Year and has improved her offensive skills.
Scamurra, who graduated from Northeastern, is in grad school at the University of Buffalo, where she studies speech and language pathology. She got the call to attend camp just a week before it began.
“Luckily, [school] ended right before I had to leave,” Scamurra said. “It was a little bit stressful getting it all done, but it worked out and I was able to go with a clear mind and just being able to focus on hockey.”
For both, this opportunity to put on a Team USA jersey is one they won’t soon forget.
“Nothing’s going to be able to compete with putting the jersey on [for the first time], but getting to do it alongside all those teammates ... and represent the logo is going to be such an honor,” Harmon said.
What will it feel like to step onto the ice for the first time for the U.S. against its biggest rival?
“I feel like I’m going to be a little emotional inside, but hopefully I can keep it in check and play my game,” Scamurra said. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming about doing for as long as I can remember, so it’s going to be a surreal moment.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.