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Preview: USA-Canada women's national teams joint training camp

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

The Penguins are hosting the U.S. and Canadian Women's National Teams for a joint week-long training camp next month. It's an amazing opportunity for fans to watch women's hockey at the highest level and see some of the best players in the world, and hopefully inspire young girls in the area. Here's everything you need to know heading into the showcase.

WHO

The U.S. and Canadian Women's National Teams

WHAT

They will be participating in a joint week-long training camp that will include two exhibition games between the U.S. and Canada on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. Each team will also hold several open practices throughout the week.

WHERE

UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry

WHEN

Nov. 4-10 

WHY

This replaces the 2019 Four Nations Tournament that was originally scheduled to be played in November. The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation canceled the tournament, which was set to be held in Stockholm, because it can't guarantee its players' participation due to an ongoing pay dispute.

This will not only provide hockey fans with an opportunity to watch the best players from both countries; it will also help the programs play competitive hockey while preparing for the 2020 IIHF Women's World Championship in March in Nova Scotia.

RIVALRY

The USA-Canada women's hockey rivalry is one of the best in all of sports. The two hockey powerhouses have faced off in the gold-medal game of every single World Championship and Winter Olympics that have been held, with just two exceptions (2019 WC, 2006 Olympics). 

Team USA is the reigning Olympic champion after defeating Team Canada in a shootout, 3-2, at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. It was the Americans' first gold medal in 20 years, with the Canadians winning five in a row following their defeat in the inaugural tournament in Nagano in 1998. 

Team USA has also captured gold in eight of the last nine IIHF Women's World Championships, including five straight.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

The U.S. National Team roster includes 15 members from the 2018 Olympic gold medal team, while Canada's training camp roster includes several Olympic medalists. Here are a few players to keep an eye on…

AMANDA KESSEL, TEAM USA

After her brother Phil helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and '17, Amanda helped the U.S. win gold at the Winter Olympic Games in 2018 with a clutch shootout goal (she had to score to keep her team's hopes alive) to make it one heck of a run for the Kessel family.

Amanda won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award in 2013, which is given to the top female college hockey player in the country, after scoring 46 goals and 101 points in just 37 games for the University of Minnesota. She helped the Golden Gophers win three NCAA national championships in 2012, '13 and '16. 

After leading Team USA to silver at the Winter Olympic Games in 2014, Amanda suffered a concussion in Sochi and the symptoms - which showed up after she returned home - were absolutely debilitating. She couldn't play for almost two years and during that time, she thought she would never play again. But Amanda was able to eventually return to the ice and recovered in time to rejoin Team USA ahead of the PyeongChang Games, and the 28-year-old has been back with the national team ever since.

KENDALL COYNE, TEAM USA

The captain of Team USA made history as the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star Skills on Jan. 25 in San Jose. Coyne was asked to fill in for Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon in the Fastest Skater event after he was forced to withdraw due to injury. 

Ever since her skating lessons with Bob Arturo, who is now the director of hockey at RMU Island Sports Center, Coyne has stood out at every level because of her blazing speed - and it was no different that night. Coyne skated an electrifying lap and crossed the line at 14.346 seconds, which elicited some priceless reactions from the players. 

"It was crazy," Kris Letang said. "We were all sitting on the bench and as she was hitting the first corner, we were like oh my God (laughs). This is fast. A lot of guys were like, 'There's no way I'm beating that.' Everybody was really impressed."

It was an incredible moment for an incredible player, and now Pens fans have an amazing opportunity to see the 27-year-old in game action. In addition to being a longtime member of the U.S. women's national team, Coyne won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2016 after scoring FIFTY goals in just 38 games for Northeastern University.

JOCELYNE AND MONIQUE LAMOREUX, TEAM USA

The twins return to Pittsburgh shortly after visiting the city for the first time in September, when they stopped by the Bloomfield Project Power Play dek to help put on a clinic for a group of female veterans. The women couldn't have asked for better instructors in Jocelyne and Monique, two of the best hockey players in the world and longtime members of the U.S. Women's National Team. 

They were both instrumental in helping Team USA win gold at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, with Monique scoring the game-tying goal late in the third period to force overtime while Jocelyne scored the game-winning goal in the shootout with an absolutely iconic move called "Oops, I Did It Again!"

They took breaks from hockey after the Olympics to become first-time mothers, with Monique welcoming a son named Mickey on Dec. 11 and Jocelyne welcoming a son named Nelson just over a month later on Jan. 23. This marks their first training camp since maternity leave as the 30-year-olds look to represent Team USA at their eighth World Championship.

MADDIE ROONEY, TEAM USA

After Jocelyne Lamoureux scored in the shootout, the game still wasn't over. Team USA goaltender Maddie Rooney had to stop the next Canadian shooter in order for them to win gold. Needless to say, she did, and the rest was history. Afterward, Penguins netminder Matt Murray marveled at her poise under "probably as much pressure as you can get" at just 20 years old.

Rooney ended up playing in four games, including a 14-save shutout of Finland in the semifinals. She led all tournament goaltenders with a 1.16 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage. 

Rooney, who is taking time away from the University of Minnesota-Duluth to compete with the national team, then helped Team USA win gold at the 2019 World Championship in Finland, earning two wins and combining with fellow netminder Alex Rigsby for a shutout streak of 316:35 minutes. 

Rooney may measure just 5-foot-5, but she's quick, athletic and has a tremendous hockey IQ. She also has a resilience and a calmness which helps her handle literally anything that is thrown at her between the pipes.

MARIE-PHILIP POULIN, TEAM CANADA

Poulin has been referred to as the Sidney Crosby of women's hockey and is the face of the Canadian women's national team. The 28-year-old captain always plays her best on the biggest stages and has been instrumental in making the rivalry between Canada and the United States so intense and exciting.

Like Crosby, Poulin has been incredibly clutch when her team needs it most. She scored both goals in Canada's 2-0 win over the United States in the Gold Medal Game of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games (the same year Crosby scored the Golden Goal).

Then, at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Poulin scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in Canada's 3-2 overtime win over the United States in the Gold Medal Game. Her first came with 54.6 seconds left in regulation, while the second came in overtime.

Poulin was again a factor at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, scoring yet again to give Canada the lead before the U.S. eventually won in a shootout to capture their first Olympic gold medal in 20 years. Poulin played college hockey for Boston University from 2010-15, leading them to the Hockey East championship all four years. 

LOREN GABEL, TEAM CANADA

Gabel is one of the few players at this training camp who did not play at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The 21-year-old made her debut with the Canadian women's national team a few months later at the 4 Nations Cup that November.

Gabel put together an incredible college career for Clarkson University. She is the reigning Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner after a fantastic senior season in 2018-19, where she scored 40 goals in just 38 games en route to helping the Golden Knights win their second straight NCAA national championship.

According to Matt Desrosiers, Gabel's head coach at Clarkson and an assistant with Team Canada, she is an elite scorer that is putting in the work to continue developing her game across all 200 feet of the ice. "Elite scorers are hard to come by. Loren has a bright future ahead of her if she continues to keep progressing and growing like she has," Desrosiers told Hockey Canada's website. "If she can do that, she is going to be an elite player for Team Canada for a long time."

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