Jocelyne Lamoureux, Kelli Stack

U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team roster marked by youth

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For the first time, the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey roster will have no ties to its 1998 team that won gold in the sport’s Olympic debut. 

Forward Julie Chu is the only player named to the 21-player squad Wednesday who competed at either the 2002 or the 2006 Olympics. Chu, 31, is also the only player on the team born before 1985.

In addition to Chu, the team is led by forwards Meghan Duggan (the team captain) and Amanda Kessel, the reigning NCAA Player of the Year who scored the gold medal-winning goal in overtime against Canada at the World Championships in April.

Kessel, the sister of NHL All-Star Phil Kessel, hasn’t played a single minute of the U.S.’ seven games against Canada this fall and winter due to a lower-body injury. The U.S. took the series 4-3, winning the final four games after the shock resignation of Canadian coach Dan Church on Dec. 12. The longtime rivals brawled in two of those games.

“It’s an incredible rivalry,” Duggan said on NBC. “Everyone in here just loves the sport of hockey.”

The same three goalies from the 2010 Olympics return, led by Jessie Vetter, who started the gold-medal game at the 2010 Olympics and the 2013 World Championships.

The final two cuts were 2010 Olympic defenseman Lisa Chesson and forward Anne Pankowski. Defenseman Jincy Dunne, 16, was cut in December, ending her bid to be the youngest U.S. Olympic women’s hockey player ever.

The U.S. is coached by Harvard’s Katey Stone. Stone is set to be the first female coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team.

The average age of the U.S. team is a little over 23 years old, which is almost three years younger than Canada’s average age for its team named Dec. 23. The U.S., reigning world champion, and Canada, three-time reigning Olympic champion, are expected to play in the gold-medal game Feb. 20.

The U.S. opens its Olympic schedule against Finland on Feb. 8, the day after the Opening Ceremony. Finland, backed by goalie Noora Raty, beat the U.S. at the Four Nations Cup on Nov. 8.

The U.S. will play Canada in a group-play game Feb. 12.

The top four ranked teams in the world were put in the same preliminary group — Canada, the U.S., Finland and Switzerland — with all four guaranteed to advance to the playoff round. The top two teams in that group get byes into opposite semifinals.

Angela Ruggiero and Jenny Potter were the last links to 1998 who played in the 2010 Olympics. They have since retired.

“We’ve got some veteran experience, and then we have a lot of youth coming in,” Duggan said on NBC. “They bring a lot of speed. They bring a lot of excitement and intensity. We’ve got the right group.”

Here’s the full U.S. roster:

Goalies
Jessie Vetter — 2010 Olympian (started medal-round games at 2010 Olympics)
Molly Schaus — 2010 Olympian
Brianne McLaughlin — 2010 Olympian

Defensemen
Kacey Bellamy — 2010 Olympian
Gigi Marvin — 2010 Olympian
Megan Bozek
Michelle Picard
Josephine Pucci
Anne Schleper
Lee Stecklein

Forwards
Julie Chu — 2002, 2006, 2010 Olympian
Meghan Duggan — 2010 Olympian
Hilary Knight — 2010 Olympian
Jocelyne Lamoureux — 2010 Olympian
Monique Lamoureux — 2010 Olympian
Kelli Stack — 2010 Olympian
Alex Carpenter
Kendall Coyne
Brianna Decker
Lyndsey Fry
Amanda Kessel

Lolo Jones on USA-1 for Winterberg Bobsled World Cup

USOC supports athletes expressing themselves after anthem protests

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PARK CITY, Utah — The U.S. Olympic Committee supports American athletes expressing themselves at winter sports events leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics.

Some MLB, NFL and WNBA players kneeled and remained in locker rooms during the national anthem at games over the weekend.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun was asked Monday if the USOC would support American athletes peacefully protesting during the national anthem this fall and winter at pre-Games competition.

“I think the athletes that you see protesting are protesting because they love their country, not because they don’t,” Blackmun said at a pre-Winter Games media summit. “We fully support the right of our athletes and everybody else to express themselves. The Olympic Games themselves, there is a prohibition on all forms of demonstrations, political or otherwise. And that applies no matter what side of the issue you’re taking, no matter where you’re from. … But we certainly recognize the importance of athletes being able to express themselves.”

Blackmun was correct to reference the Olympic Charter, which states that “no kind of demonstration … is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

Blackmun mentioned Tommie Smith and John Carlos‘ raised-fist salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, which got them kicked out of the Games by the IOC.

The USOC has honored Smith and Carlos. They visited the White House last year with the Rio Olympic team.

“That was a seminal moment not only for the Olympic Movement, but for the U.S. Olympic team,” Blackmun said of the 1968 podium gesture. “Our stance on this has been fairly clear. We certainly recognize the rights of the athletes to express themselves.”

Olympic hopefuls were peppered with questions about possible protests at the media summit.

“One of the proudest parts of being an American is the ability to have freedom of speech,” four-time Olympian Julia Mancuso said. “I really look up to athletes who take a stand for what they believe in. I really believe as athletes that compete for Team USA, when it comes to the Olympics, I like to think it’s a special event. Not like the NFL or pro sports teams that compete every weekend. For us, it’s every four years. I’m proud for athletes that stand up for what they believe in if they really want to have a message to get out. But I like to think of us all as patriotic.”

Elana Meyers Taylor, a two-time Olympic bobsled medalist, is the daughter of a U.S. Marine who served in Kuwait and spent summers in the 1980s playing at Atlanta Falcons training camps.

She said any decisions on demonstrations or whether she attends a post-Olympics Team USA White House visit come secondary to her pursuit of making the Olympic team this winter.

“I can’t afford to focus on what I would do in that situation or how I would react,” Meyers Taylor said, adding that anything would be a “game-time decision.” “Maybe the social climate changes a little bit [before the Olympics]. … There’s a lot to consider.”

Aja Evans, a 2014 Olympic bobsled bronze medalist, the sister of former NFL defensive tackle Fred Evans, did not say that she would follow the football players’ lead.

“I honor and commend anyone that does that,” Evans said. “My way of showing my stance is to continue to try to be a positive influence for my city, for my country. I’m representing Team USA the best way I can.”

NCAA hockey players Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway, both prospective Olympians with the NHL not participating, said they didn’t envision taking a knee during the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“I’ve always stood for the national anthem,” Greenway said. “I always will.”

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U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player from 2006 has shot at PyeongChang

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PARK CITY, Utah — Though no active NHL players will be in PyeongChang, veteran NHL forward and free agent Brian Gionta could very well play for his second U.S. Olympic team in February.

A USA Hockey official confirmed Monday that the 2006 Olympian Gionta “has a very decent opportunity” to be part of the 2018 Olympic team.

That came in response to a Buffalo radio report that Gionta said it’s looking good for him to play for Team USA.

Gionta, 38, played 15 NHL seasons through last year but is currently unsigned as the NHL preseason continues. The U.S. Olympic team of 25 players named around Jan. 1 is likely to include very few, if any, players with Gionta’s experience.

Gionta was seen at the Rochester (N.Y.) AHL club’s practice Monday (but not taking part), according to media in that area. Gionta could play for an AHL club and be eligible for PyeongChang. USA Hockey wants prospective Olympians to be active in the AHL, NCAA or a European league.

Gionta’s agent has not responded to a request for comment on his Olympic prospects on Monday. Earlier in the summer, Gionta’s agent said that the skater was considering the Olympics.

Gionta led the 2006 U.S. Olympic team with four goals. The Americans lost in the quarterfinals to Finland, their worst Olympic result over the last four Winter Games.

That came during Gionta’s most productive NHL season — 48 goals (sixth in the league) and 41 assists for the New Jersey Devils.

Another Olympian — Ryan Malone from 2010 — embarked on a comeback this preseason and could pursue the Olympics. He has been in camp with the Minnesota Wild. If he doesn’t make the Wild, Malone could play on an AHL contract and be eligible for the Olympics.

U.S. general manager Jim Johannson said this summer that he was interested in some players who “have a rich history in the NHL and with USA Hockey that we think could potentially really help this roster.” Johannson wouldn’t name names then.

Johansson said a “long list” of potential players for the final 25-man roster must be submitted in September.

A U.S. team of primarily European-based players will take part in a tournament in November in Germany. That roster is expected to be named in October.

The U.S. staff will also look at NCAA and AHL players ahead of naming the PyeongChang team.

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