SOCHI, Russia - Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho), Kelli Stack (Brooklyn Heights, Ohio) and Alex Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.) each scored and goaltender Jessie Vetter (Cottage Grove, Wis.) turned away 14 shots to help the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team beat Finland, 3-1, in the team's opening game of the Olympic Winter Games at Shayba Arena.
"I'm happy with the way our team started the game today," said Katey Stone, head coach of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team. "Obviously, to have an opportunity to score in the first minute of the game takes a little bit of the edge off the anxiety of the first game. I liked our team speed, we moved the puck really well and we scored three hard-earned goals. We're happy to have the first game under our belt and we're looking forward to Monday."
Knight opened the scoring just 53 seconds into the contest when she converted on a semi-breakaway. After good pressure by Amanda Kessel (Madison, Wis.) created a turnover in the neutral zone, Knight scooped up the loose puck at the offensive blue line, flew into the zone and beat Finland goaltender Noora Raty with a quick wrister to the blocker side.
Team USA doubled its lead 7:42 into the middle frame when Stack scored from the edge of the crease. Off an offensive-zone draw, Megan Bozek (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) used the end wall to get the puck to the front of the net, where it bounced off Knight and right to Stack. Stack waited for the puck to fall below the height of the crossbar and batted it out of the air past Raty.
Just over eight minutes later, Carpenter connected on a power play to boost Team USA's edge to 3-0. Knight used her body on a Finnish defender behind the net to force the puck loose, and the Americans worked it across the zone to Anne Schleper (St. Cloud, Minn.) at the far point. Schleper's wide shot ended up on the stick of Carpenter, who backhanded the puck in from the bottom of the right circle.
Finland scored a power-play goal of its own at 15:22 of the final stanza to spoil Vetter's shutout bid, but the United States didn't allow the Finns to pull any closer.
The U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team is off tomorrow (Feb. 9) before resuming action in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games Monday (Feb. 10) against Switzerland. Puck-drop is scheduled for 5 a.m. ET.
NOTES: The U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team has medaled in all four Olympic appearances to date (gold-1998, silver-2002 and 2010, bronze-2006) ... The 2014 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team is under the direction of General Manager Reagan Carey (Colorado Springs, Colo.) ... Katey Stone (Arlington, Mass.) was named head coach on June 8, 2012, and is the first female to serve as head coach of a U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team ... USA Hockey's international council, chaired by Gavin Regan, vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. Olympic Teams.
Sept. 1, 2015 | More than 40,000 spectators, plus a national television audience, watched the Little League World Series this past Sunday on a glorious afternoon in Pennsylvania. There were smiles, cheers, entertainment and the noticeable absence of demand for those 12- and 13-year-olds to pitch from 60 feet, six inches or run 90 feet between the bases like their professional baseball heroes.
Right-sized baseball and softball fields, along with age-appropriate rule modifications, have been accepted wisdom in youth baseball for more than 50 years.
Coincidentally, while Little League was paring to its finalists, U.S. Soccer announced a nationwide initiative to improve youth skill development. The centerpiece was a shift to small-sided game formats and field sizes to be phased in across the country by August 2017. As part of the new plan, American soccer at U6, U7 and U8 will be played 4v4 on a pitch approximately one-eighth the size of an adult soccer field. Nine- and 10-year-olds will play 7v7 on a one-quarter-scale pitch. Not until age 13 will players begin competing 11v11 on a regulation adult-sized pitch.
“Our number one goal is to improve our players down the road, and these initiatives will help us do that,” said Tab Ramos, U.S. Soccer’s youth technical director. “In general, we would like for players to be able to process information faster, and when they are in this (new) environment, they are going to learn to do that. Fast forward 10 years, and there are thousands of game situations added to a player’s development.”
With this change, American soccer will join sports like baseball, basketball, hockey and tennis, all of which have embraced the skill-development benefits of age-appropriate playing dimensions and competition formats (see chart below).
Those benefits are at the core of USA Hockey’s American Development Model, which was recently praised by the Sports Business Journal as a “trailblazing program.”