USA Hockey announced the roster for the women's team that will compete for gold in Sochi. during the second intermission of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Wednesday.
"We're thrilled with the team that we have. We have spent countless hours working on making sure we have the right group. We believe we have the right group to compete for a gold medal in just over a month," coach Katey Stone said. "We're looking forward to it and we have great leadership. I think we will represent the United States with distinction in February."
The United States has not won gold in the Olympic women's tournament since the Nagano Games in 1998. The effort to reclaim gold is led by a number of players, most notably 22-year-old forward Amanda Kessel.
The younger sister of Toronto Maple Leafs wing Phil Kessel, Amanda Kessel enjoyed a standout sophomore season at the University of Minnesota last season. She led the Gophers to a perfect season and NCAA championship before being named the winner of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top player in NCAA Division I women's hockey. Three weeks after being named the top player in women's college hockey, Kessel scored the winning goal against Canada to help the United States capture the 2013 IIHF Women's World Championship.
"We like to play an up-tempo game. That's what the profile of our roster looks like. Amanda just fits into that style really well," Stone said. "We've got a great mix of seasoned veterans and youthful enthusiasm and tremendous amounts of skill and talent and speed."
Some of that youthful enthusiasm will come courtesy of two 19-year-olds in Lee Stecklein and Alex Carpenter, the daughter of longtime NHL player Bob Carpenter.
Consisting of three goalies, seven defensemen and 11 forwards, the USA roster features 11 Olympic veterans. That group is spearheaded by Julie Chu, who will be making her fourth appearance at the Olympics. Team captain Meaghan Duggan will also be relied on to provide leadership, a role she isn't taking lightly heading into Sochi.
"It's an incredible honor. As women, we've grown up wanting to be on this team since they had a team in 1998 in Nagano and won the gold medal," Duggan said. "Being able to lead this team this year is incredible. We have a great group of girls that don't require a ton of direction. We're on the right path."
The opening ceremonies will be held in Sochi, Russia on Feb. 7. The American women play their first game Feb. 8 against Finland.
U.S. WOMEN'S OLYMPIC ROSTER
Forwards: Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Julie Chu, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Lyndsey Fry, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux, Kelli Stack
Defensemen: Kacey Bellamy, Megan Bozek, Gigi Marvin, Michelle Picard, Josephine Pucci, Anne Schleper, Lee Stecklein
Goaltenders: Brianne McLaughlin, Molly Schaus, Jessie Vetter