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.
March 27, 2017 | When USA Hockey implemented its American Development Model in 2009, one element of the nationwide age-appropriate training blueprint sparked more debate than any other: cross-ice hockey for 8U players. In the years since, an abundance of evidence, both data-driven and anecdotal, has proven the developmental advantages of cross-ice hockey.
This week, Hockey Canada announced that it too will introduce its players to the game through cross-ice play beginning in 2017-18.
“Re-sizing the playing surface to cross-ice or half-ice means more puck touches, which result in more chances to practice puck control and shooting, as well as overall more movement and motor skill-development – twisting, turning, balance, coordination, agility,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of membership development for Hockey Canada, in a release today. “Their field-of-play matches their size, and these players hone in on their skill-development in a way that larger ice surfaces just aren’t conducive to.”
The Grassroots Show on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 weighed in on the decision. Click the audio link below to hear how Canada is embracing cross-ice hockey for the coming season and beyond.
Tom Renney, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, appeared on the Grassroots Show to discuss the nationwide shift to cross-ice hockey, beginning this fall for 5- and 6-year-olds and expanding to all of Canada's Novice (8U) level in 2018-19.
“When you see 10 or 12 or 14 or 16 kids out on the ice in between periods and they’re playing 200-by-85 and 3 or 4 kids touch the puck in that whole six minutes, yet there’s people in the stands clapping and thinking it’s wonderful, I just can’t help but think about the 95 percent of the children that didn’t even touch the puck or get from one end of the rink to the other and I ask myself what are we doing when the opportunity is certainly there to have 30 kids on the ice playing cross-ice and everyone is having a much better opportunity to touch the puck, skate a shorter distance and really play. It just boggles my mind,” said Renney.
“We completely embrace, at the Initiation level and the Novice level, cross-ice hockey and we have mandated that in the Initiation program and we will mandate it across the country in Novice hockey.
“This is about the pure enjoyment of the game, and your first connection with it has to be something that’s pure fun, on a surface of play that is conducive to much more participation and joy.”