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by Joe Ray / Buffalo Sabres

While the Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks competed in a matchup of two great American hockey cities, one of America’s hockey heroes watched on from the crowd.

Goaltender Molly Schaus helped the U.S. women’s ice hockey team win a silver medal in Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics. On Sunday, Schaus joined her family in Buffalo to take in the action at the First Niagara Center.

Schaus, whose parents grew up in Western New York, also has two older brothers who were born in Buffalo. While she never lived in the city, Schaus had nothing but good things to say about the Queen City.

“Any time you get to come back to Buffalo, it’s awesome,” she said. “So many friends and family, and it’s just a great city.”

The trip to this year’s Winter Olympics was the second of her career for Schaus, who also made the team for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Schaus has also played on four World Championship women’s hockey teams, winning gold with USA in 2008, 2009, and 2011 and silver in 2012.

In Sochi, Schaus backstopped the American team to a victory in her lone start of the tournament, making 10 saves in a 9-0 victory over Switzerland.

The chance to play on the world’s biggest stage and take part in the Olympics quickly became a fantastic memory for Schaus.

“Sochi was an unbelievable experience,” she said. “Beautiful venues, the village, the weather. As an athlete, it doesn’t get much better than that. Obviously we were hoping to win gold, and that was our plan. But what you’ve got to love about sports is anything can happen.

“We came up a little bit short, but we’re really proud of our efforts.”

Schaus has spent the majority of her playing career in Boston, Massachusetts, one of the largest American hockey hotbeds. After playing in high school at Deerfield Academy and Assabet Valley, Schaus was recruited to play at the collegiate level with Boston College. Now, Schaus competes in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League as a member of the Boston Blades.

While the spotlight doesn’t shine as brightly on women’s hockey outside of the Olympics, Schaus relishes the opportunity to play against some great North American talent outside the international stage.

“The CWHL is awesome. It provides a great opportunity for players to continue to play post-college,” Schaus said.“ To be honest, some of those games are like USA-Canada when you match up against Montreal or Brampton. It’s a great opportunity to keep playing and hopefully it keeps growing.”

Whether on the ice at home or abroad, the experience of playing in front of enthusiastic fans continues to amaze Schaus.

“Any time you get the chance to play in front of this many people, you feel the adrenaline, it’s exciting.”

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