Jessie Vetter

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Goalie Jessie Vetter tries out for third Olympic team, two months after childbirth

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Jessie Vetter, holder of most U.S. women’s hockey career goalie records, is making one more Olympic run at next week’s national-team selection camp.

She’s doing so two months after giving birth to son Brady. Vetter, the No. 1 U.S. goalie at the last two Olympics, married Scott McConnell last May.

“What’s going on in my life is kind of a motivation,” Vetter said by phone last week while walking Brady. “Brady, if he ever wants to do something or have a passion for something, to see it through and give himself the best opportunity to make that happen. There’s still a good chunk of the girls I know from 2010 and 2014. It’s just seeing them being out there and knowing I can come in and be a positive teammate and a good influence to the younger girls and a good veteran on the team.”

Vetter was cleared to skate two weeks ago. She returned to the ice for the first time in nearly one year, since the 2016 World Championships.

And now she’s headed to Tampa with 41 other players for the five-day national-team selection camp that starts Sunday.

The camp is being viewed by players as an Olympic team tryout. The national team named on May 5 is expected to include 23 players, equaling the Olympic roster size.

Changes could be made before the Olympics, since the Winter Games are still nine months away, but national-team players clearly have the inside track to PyeongChang.

Vetter, 31, started eight of the 10 U.S. games between the last two Olympics, including both gold-medal game defeats to Canada. No U.S. women’s goalie has made three Olympic teams.

One men’s goalie has played in three Olympics — former New York Rangers All-Star Mike Richter, who happens to be the U.S. women’s goalie coach and Vetter’s idol growing up in Wisconsin.

Vetter is one of six goalies going to next week’s camp competing for what will be three Olympic team roster spots. She is six years older than anybody else, and even coached two of them at past USA Hockey camps.

Vetter admits she will be above her normal playing weight. She’s most concerned about her leg strength. But she’s mentally prepared and banking on her experience.

“I don’t think she’d put herself in a position to try out for the Olympic team if she wasn’t ready,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said.

Vetter has played 486 minutes at the Olympics, more than any woman in U.S. history. The other five goalies at camp have never been to an Olympics.

“Physically, I won’t be close to my expectations for myself,” she said. “But I can come in with a good mental game and a good mindset and still put myself in a position to do well. Maybe not be as successful as I would be if I had a few more months to get my legs bent underneath me, but I’m going to do the best I can, be a good teammate and have some fun.”

Vetter was unseated as the U.S. No. 1 at her last tournament, the 2016 Worlds. She didn’t start a gold-medal game for the first time since 2012, watching training partner Alex Rigsby stop all 32 Canadian shots for 72 minutes, 30 seconds in a 1-0 overtime win.

Vetter knew she would take an extended break after worlds.

She got married a month later but told U.S. women’s team director Reagan Carey she wasn’t committed to retiring just yet, despite reports to the contrary in August.

It seemed when Vetter announced her pregnancy that retirement was inevitable. But one week before she was due in February, she told Rigsby she had not ruled out a return. Brady arrived one week late, but Vetter still decided to come back.

Rigsby said she and their shared goalie coach, Larry Clemens, received text messages from Vetter five weeks after she gave birth. Something along the lines of, “It’s time for this old lady to skate.”

“I was like, literally, you’re goals,” Rigsby joked. “She got cleared at week six to skate, and we’ve been skating together for a couple of weeks.”

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U.S. women’s hockey team stuns Canada in overtime for World title

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KAMLOOPS, British Columbia (AP) — Alex Carpenter put another gold medal around the Americans’ necks.

The daughter of former NHL player Bobby Carpenter struck 12:30 into overtime to lift the United States over Canada 1-0 Monday night to win the World Championship.

The U.S. power play was 0 for 3, but Carpenter scored shortly after time expired on a U.S. 4-on-3. She got her stick behind a sprawling Maschmeyer to bat the puck in.

“It got pretty quiet, so I wasn’t really sure if it went in,” Carpenter said. “I’ve had some chances throughout the tournament, and I guess this was just the right place at the right time. I would have given up any other goal at any other point for this one.”

The U.S. went undefeated en route to its third straight World title and extended its win streak in the tournament to 14 consecutive games dating to 2013.

The U.S. and Canada have met in every final of the 17 World Championships. Canada won the first eight, but the balance of power has swung south of the border with its archrivals now taking seven of the last nine.

“For sure this one stings a lot more, especially playing in Canada,” Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin said. “Every time you work so hard for something and you get silver, that’s hard.”

In contrast to last year’s 7-5 finale won by the U.S. in Malmo, Sweden, the gold-medal game at the Sandman Centre was a goaltending showcase.

Canada’s Emerance Maschmeyer made 33 saves in her first start in a World Championship final. The 21-year-old dressed for two games but did not play in Malmo last year.

Alex Rigsby, who had more big-game experience, posted a 32-save shutout. She was the finisher of last year’s final, playing just over a period in relief of Jessie Vetter.

“It definitely helped getting that gold-medal victory,” she said. “Same thing, it was going out there and making sure I was trusting my talent and making sure I was doing the things I could do to help our team be successful.”

Canada outshot the U.S. 25-23 over three periods but was outshot 9-4 in the third and 11-7 in overtime. The Canadians didn’t capitalize on a pair of power-play chances in overtime and went 0 for 6 with the man advantage overall.

Rigsby’s spectacular pad save on a deking Laura Fortino and Maschmeyer stoning Carpenter on a short-handed breakaway had the sellout of 5,850 buzzing in the second, as did Halli Krzyzaniak‘s well-timed block on a U.S. odd-man rush late in the period.

The Americans beat Canada north of the border for gold for the second time in the last three Worlds. The U.S. prevailed 3-2 in the 2013 final in Ottawa. A dozen players from that squad played again in Kamloops.

Canada may be the reigning Olympic champions, having beaten the U.S. in a 3-2 overtime thriller in 2014, but the U.S. is winning more Worlds skirmishes between Winter Games and performing on demand more consistently.

Hilary Knight, widely considered the best power forward in women’s hockey, and Meghan Duggan have played in all seven of those finals. Coached by former NHL defenseman Ken Klee for a second year, the U.S. outscored their opponents 23-2 in the tournament.

The Americans were the more rested team in Monday’s final, having cruised to a 9-0 win over Russia in Sunday’s semifinal. Canada burned more fuel getting by Finland 5-3 with its Sunday night semifinal.

Each country’s roster consisted mostly of players from rival leagues. The Americans had 10 players from the new U.S.-based NWHL, while 18 Canadians spent this season in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

Russia downed Finland 1-0 in a shootout for the bronze medal.

Finnish goaltender Meeri Raisanen, defensemen Monique Lamoureux of the U.S. and Jenni Hiirikoski of Finland and forwards Knight of the U.S., Rebecca Johnston from Canada and Christine Hueni of Switzerland were named to the tournament All-Star team.

Knight was voted the tournament’s most valuable player by the media.

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