‘We’ve been playing (against) ourselves for the past two years’

USA Hockey forward Hayley Scamurra prepares for a Women's Worlds like no other

ST. LOUIS, MO – MAY 16: Hayley Scamurra walks into the Centene Community Ice Center (Photo by Joe Puetz/St. Louis Blues)

The hardest part of the quarantine for Hayley Scamurra came around day four. After four days on no contact with anyone else and not even opening her door except to receive her meals, she got dangerously close to getting too comfortable.

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“You kind of started feeling a little lethargic, just from not really moving around much,” she told me during a phone interview on Thursday afternoon from her hotel in Calgary.

That is the price she and all the other athletes, staff, and media must pay to put on the first International women’s hockey tournament in two years. This is Scamurra’s second Worlds and only her second major tournament with the U.S. women’s hockey senior team. She is one of the rare players to get her first International cap after going pro in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).

These days, Scamurra plays in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) when not competing for the national team. Hopefully, if we truly turn a corner with the Coronavirus and all its variants, we can see Scams and the rest of WoHo hit the ice more consistently.

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced zero positive tests ahead of Friday’s start to the 2021 Women’s Worlds in Canada, so it’s GAME ON! Most teams played a tune-up game Wednesday ahead of the preliminary rounds. Scamurra and the United States defeated the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 6-0 on Wednesday.

Head coach Joel Johnson was pleased in what he saw from the team and emphasized the importance of rest and recovery. Johnson also talked about the different line combinations he rolled out on Wednesday and what we might see throughout the tournament.

USA Hockey lines for the 6-0 tune-up against ROC ahead of the 2021 Women’s World Championships

I kind of see the first two games of our of our week here as trying to make sure that we get everybody involved. So if a group plays you know, in our first game against Switzerland, maybe we try to make sure that everybody gets in between either the game one against Switzerland or Game 2 against Finland just to give everybody a chance to kind of get their feet wet.

But at the same time, you’re playing a Swiss team who is incredibly impressive offensively and has got great goaltending. So, you know, there’s no there’s no letdown in our opponents here to start off with

USA Women’s head coach Joel Johnson

While Johnson is going to keep a fluid roster and deploy his assets depending on the scenario, there are certain absolutes. Right now, that’s looking like the Kendall Coyne Schfield, Brianna Decker, and Hilary Knight on the top line. Decker scored two goals against ROC and the top line combined for six total points on Wednesday.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better top line in this tournament and I used the n-WHKYe stat analysis to give a glimpse as to why in my latest for The Athletic. If you’re not familiar with n-WHKYe, check out this video introduction and read Mike Murphy’s article for The Ice Garden. If you want to play around with the data to build your fantasy team, check out the data dashboard.

NOW GIVE ME ADVANCED STATS (or any stats) FOR DEFENSE! If you wanna name a stat after me I’m open to a conversation 😉

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Week in Women’s Hockey


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Must-Click Links

Need to know all the ways to watch Women’s Worlds? Jackie Spiegel has you covered!

The Ice Garden has a 2021 Women’s Worlds Fantasy League, check it out!

Team hopping in the NWHL, old faces in new places by Dan Rice.

“I want to continue making this roster and hopefully that leads to making this Olympic team and continuing our success with U.S. hockey.” Wahnapitae First Nation’s Abby Roque on Worlds and representation .

Hailey Salvian is on-site in Calgary. Read her Team Canada preview. I took on the USA Hockey preview.

Emily Kaplan details the new and somewhat confusing 1-year USA Hockey contract.

The PWHPA says mission to change hockey is still on track.

Get to know Jaime Bourbonnais and make sure you’re following Meaghen Johnson’s coverage of Worlds.

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Hayley Scamurra live from Calgary

I spoke to Hayley Scamurra Thursday afternoon as Team USA returned from their final practice ahead of the official (and long awaited) start to the first IIHF Women’s World Championships since 2019.

ST. LOUIS, MO – MAY 16: on May 16, 2021 at the Centene Community Ice Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Puetz/St. Louis Blues)

Walk me through what the quarantine process was like for you? Now that you’ve been able to hit the ice in Calgary, what are the sights and sounds? What’s what’s going on in that bubble-type environment?

The quarantine part of it was really, I mean, it’s something I never experienced before. As soon as we got to the hotel, we went straight to our rooms and we only open the doors to get our meals and to trade our bikes. They gave us stationary bikes so we could work out. So it was, it was very interesting. You have to like, find things to do.

I brought books, I watched shows, we had our bike workouts and we kept in touch with group chats, FaceTime, zoom calls, things like that. But you know, there’s only so much you can really do and the whole day you’re just in your room. It definitely got pretty tiring. By the fourth day, you kind of started feeling a little lethargic, just from not really moving around much. After that fifth day, we were just so excited to be able to see each other and to be able to talk and there’s something different about face-to-face as opposed to over the phone or over zoom.

Not to betray of any teammates, but who would you say was able to thrive during the five day quarantine? Who was someone that was, let’s just say, really excited to get out of quarantine?

Oh, my gosh, we actually had a poll in our group chat about this. We said that Alex Carpenter was built for quarantine (laughs). She’s good with her own time and is okay with not talking to people for an extended period of time.

We have a lot of very social bubbly people on our team who definitely missed social interaction, myself included. I think it definitely took a toll by the fourth day. I’m trying to think who maybe struggled the most. I don’t know. There’s so many people who thrive on social interaction, you know, like Keller or Knighter.

Fair enough. How did it feel to have another opponent and not just going up against teammates?

That was the best feeling! We’ve been playing (against) ourselves for the past two years. It was really nice to play a different opponent and there’s just something different about going into the corners and battling with people that aren’t in your own program. It was really physical, it was really exciting, and I’m just looking forward to it for the rest of the tournament here.

I was talking to coach (Joel) Johnson and I was like … you might be in that baby vet category. Right? You’ve had a few rounds with the national team, but then everything kind of stalled out. What’s your take on that?

That’s actually really funny. I actually referred to myself as a baby vet that the other day. Our trainer asked me, she’s like, oh, were you at Worlds. And I’m like, Well, I was on the 2019 team and then I made the other ones that got cancelled. So I’ve been the program for a little bit. I don’t, obviously, have Olympic experience.

So yeah, I actually describe myself as baby vet. Plus, I’m like older, right? I’m older than the younger girls who haven’t gotten to that point yet. So it’s just, it’s just funny.

Being a baby vet, what are some of the things that you are really focused on, so that you can thrive despite the fact that your trajectory is a little bit different than what we’ve ever seen before?

I think for me the second time around, I just feel a lot more comfortable in my role. I feel a lot more confident, more comfortable with the girls on the team. I can just tell the difference in my play from our first exhibition game.

That first time around that first time around, you’re gripping that stick tight, you know. And so this time, I just feel that with the experience that I’ve had, and feeling more comfortable with everyone, I felt that I could be a little more free out there.

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Written by Erica L. Ayala