Jessie Vetter

Getty Images

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

Leave a comment

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.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Hilary Knight’s trip to historic ice rekindles love for hockey

U.S. outlasts Canada in thriller to win World Championship

Leave a comment

The U.S. women’s hockey team avoided another collapse against Canada, winning the World Championship final 7-5 after squandering a 5-2 lead in Malmo, Sweden.

Brianna Decker and Kendall Coyne potted third-period goals after Canada had tied the gold-medal game with three scores in a 2-minute, 3-second span in the second period.

The U.S. captured gold for the fifth time in the last six World Championships, making up a little bit for Canada’s four straight Olympic gold medals. The last, in Sochi, was the product of two Canadian goals in the final 3:26 of regulation, plus an overtime winner.

Saturday’s final was a vastly different affair, the highest-scoring game in the series history of more than 100 games dating to 1990, according to Hockey Canada records.

At the final horn, U.S. players threw their gloves and sticks, screamed and crowded goalie Alex Rigsby.

Canada chased U.S. starting goalie Jessie Vetter during its three-goal spurt in the second period. Vetter, 29, is the oldest player on the U.S. roster mixed with Olympians and Worlds rookies. She was in net for the last two Olympic gold-medal games.

The U.S. relied on its top line of Decker, Coyne and Hilary Knight. Knight scored one of four U.S. first-period goals before Canada erased that 5-2 deficit in the second and was named the tournament MVP.

The U.S. outshot Canada 36-27.

The U.S. played in Malmo with a new coach, former NHL defenseman Ken Klee, and without four-time Olympian Julie Chu plus forward Amanda Kessel. Kessel, who scored the game-winning goal in the 2013 Worlds final, has not played since the Sochi Olympics due to concussion effects.

Canada, too, missed stalwarts in Malmo, including five-time Olympian defenseman Hayley Wickenheiser (injury) and goalie Shannon Szabados. Szabados, whose presence appeared most missed Saturday, is playing men’s minor-league hockey with the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths.

The game marked the finale for Canadian forward Caroline Ouellette, the only athlete to enter at least four Winter Olympic events and win gold in all of them.

The 2016 World Championships will be in Canada in Kamloops, B.C.

Behind the scenes of Miracle on Ice reunion

U.S., Canada women’s hockey teams renew rivalry at World Championships

Leave a comment

One of the greatest national rivalries in Olympic history is becoming a bit one-sided.

The U.S. women’s hockey team goes into the World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, starting Saturday as the defending champion.

But it has lost four straight games to Canada and hasn’t beaten the rival to the north in an international tournament since that 2013 Worlds gold-medal game in Ottawa.

The U.S. and Canada will face off in the preliminary opener Saturday and likely again in the gold-medal game the following Saturday. All 15 previous World Championships finals have been U.S.-Canada affairs.

The U.S. roster of 23 announced Feb. 15 included 13 members of the Sochi Olympic silver medal-winning team. The biggest names are forwards Hilary Knight and captain Meghan Duggan and goalie Jessie Vetter. Though Vetter is not guaranteed to be the No. 1 goalie in Malmo.

Missing is four-time Olympian Julie Chu as well as forward Amanda Kessel, whose future is in question as she sits out this season. It was announced in September that Kessel suffered a concussion before she played at the Sochi Olympics. After Sochi, she visited a brain institute in Atlanta headed by the same doctor who worked with Sidney Crosby and two-time U.S. Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow following their concussions.

The U.S. has a new head coach, retired 14-year NHL veteran defenseman Ken Klee, who succeeded Olympic coach Katey Stone.

Canada, too, replaced its Olympic coach, former NHL player and coach Kevin Dineen, who is now an assistant with the Chicago Blackhawks. The new man at the helm is Doug Derraugh, who also guides Cornell.

Derraugh’s roster in Malmo includes the forward who broke American hearts in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold-medal games. That’s Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored both goals in the 2-0 victory at Vancouver 2010 and the final minute-tying and overtime-winning goals in the 3-2 stunner in Sochi last year.

Canada is without stalwart defenseman Hayley Wickenheiser, who has played in all five Olympic women’s hockey tournaments but is sidelined by a foot injury. Missing, too, is star goalie Shannon Szabados, who is playing men’s minor-league hockey with the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths.

Hilary Knight hopes to play in NHL preseason game after Ducks practice