United States Olympic roster announced at NHL’s Winter Classic — Kendall Cooper talks drawing Wisconsin, U18 Worlds cancellation — Must-click women’s hockey links

The IX: Hockey Friday with Anne Tokarski, January 7, 2022

Welcome to Hockey Friday! The National (men’s) Hockey League and broadcast partner TNT fumbled the bag hard when it came to the announcement of the United States women’s national Olympic team during the league’s annual Winter Classic this past weekend.

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The roster announcement was scheduled to take place during the second intermission of the Winter Classic, with each player on the squad to be honored on the ground at Target Field in St. Paul. It was hyped up by USA Hockey, the NHL, the Minnesota Wild, and…it fell short.

What viewers got was a quick pan past each member of the roster with no name cards and commentary over the in-stadium recognition. (Granted, it was insightful commentary by former Canadian Olympian Jen Botterill, but it prevented listeners from, you know, knowing who was on the roster.) Anyone who isn’t familiar enough with the roster and the faces of the players selected to it would have absolutely no idea who was named to the Olympic roster — a roster with serious chances of taking home another gold medal — until the aftermath of the announcement, when TNT put up a screen with names and positions.

I could undoubtedly spend several more paragraphs lamenting the poor production quality and the disrespect that was afforded to these athletes who have worked incredibly hard for the chance to represent their country in an Olympic Games. I really, really could. But these athletes deserve to be celebrated every day up to and every day after they compete in Beijing, and that’s what I plan on doing.

First up, let’s take a look at the all-encompassing statistics about this roster. There are eight first-time Olympians, including nineteen-year-olds Caroline Harvey and Abbey Murphy. The average age of the squad is 25.9 years old, a stat that’s undoubtedly skewed in both directions by youngsters like Harvey and Murphy and players like Hilary Knight, who’s 32 years old and playing in her fourth (!!) Olympics this year. Only two players on the team with Olympic experience were not a part of the 2018 gold medal-winning squad: Alex Carpenter and Megan Bozek. The University of Minnesota has the most current and former players on the roster with eight, including 3x NCAA champions with the Gophers Amanda Kessel and Hannah Brandt.

The full roster is as follows:

Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Alex Carpenter, Jesse Compher, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Brianna Decker, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Abbey Murphy, Kelly Pannek, Abby Roque, Hayley Scamurra, Grace Zumwinkle

Defenders: Cayla Barnes, Megan Bozek, Jincy Dunne, Savannah Harmon, Caroline Harvey, Megan Keller, Lee Stecklein

Goaltenders: Alex Cavallini, Nicole Hensley, Maddie Rooney

Congratulations to all the players selected and best of luck in Beijing!

This Week in Women’s Hockey

Robert Morris president Chris Howard, who shuttered the school’s hockey programs, leaving the school for Arizona State (USCHO)

U SPORTS winter surrounded by uncertainty (The Ice Garden)

PHF appoints Alex Sinatra head of Players’ Association (ESPN)

Syracuse’s Sarah Thompson aims to give every kid the opportunity to play hockey (Twitter)

Canadian Olympic team cautious after COVID cases (TSN)

PHF names 30 All-Stars (The Ice Garden)

Five at the IX: Kendall Cooper

A sophomore defender for #4 Quinnipiac University, Kendall Cooper is making a name for herself in the NCAA after winning gold and silver medals with Canada’s U18 team in 2019 and 2020. The IX sat down with Cooper to have a quick chat about everything from her team’s recent series vs. #1 Wisconsin to the U18 tournament’s cancellation.

Question: Quinnipiac was ranked #4 in the nation heading into this weekend’s match-up against #1 Wisconsin. What makes this year’s team so special and so successful? 

Kendall Cooper: We are all so close off the ice. We get along really well, and I think that transfers on the ice. We have lots of fun together and trust each other which is so crucial for a team to be successful.

Q: How highly anticipated was this weekend’s series against Wisconsin, knowing both that the Badgers are defending national champions and have held the #1 spot for nearly the entire season, but also that your team had only lost one game in regulation up until this weekend? 

Cooper: We were all super excited to play against Wisconsin. I think anytime you get a chance to play against the top-ranked team, you want to give them a good game. We really wanted to focus on us and play Quinnipiac hockey. It can be intimidating to play against a team like Wisconsin, but we know our capabilities and came into the weekend confident which helped us a lot.

Q: In eight meetings, Quinnipiac has never beaten Wisconsin, or tied them. How does it feel to skate away with the closest margin of competition that Quinnipiac has ever held Wisconsin to, and to know that you held Wisconsin to only their second non-conference draw at home since Clarkson in 2016? 

Cooper: Yeah it is obviously special to do that, but we are not content with that outcome. We learned things from the first game which helped us to tie them in the second game, but we know we can give more. We play very good teams in the ECAC which will help us to progress and hopefully we will get another matchup against Wisconsin.

Q: After a successful two years with the Under-18 team, you were invited to the 2021 BFL National Women’s senior team Development Camp, but unable to attend. What did that invitation mean to you, and how do you plan to build on your playing career with Hockey Canada? 

Cooper: Anytime I get to represent Canada it is an honor. I am grateful for my experiences at the Under-18 level because they helped me to be the player I am today. The development camp is an important invitation because it brings the best under-22 players from across Canada. It is cool to learn from others an d we all just push each other to be our best.

Q: Over the holidays, the IIHF announced the cancellation of the U18 Women’s World Championship. What was your reaction to that decision and how do you think it affects the development of the athletes involved? 

Cooper: It is obviously disappointing news for those girls who had a chance to compete for their country. I feel bad for them because I know how exciting and fun it is to represent Canada. Not only does it affect that age group of girls, but it affects the younger generation who may want to play hockey. We are showing that women’s hockey is not as important as men’s and it’s disappointing. I know there is a lot that goes into all of the decision making, but women’s hockey has progressed immensely. We need to continue to grow the women’s game and it starts by bringing more awareness and exposure to it.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
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Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Anne Tokarski