January 2, 2022
(Reuters) – Led by Hilary Knight, the United States will send a veteran lineup to the Beijing Winter Games in a bid to retain the women’s ice hockey gold medal, with 15 of the 23 players named on Saturday having Olympic experience.
Knight becomes just the fourth women’s player to represent the United States at four Olympics, while Kendall Coyne Schofield, Brianna Decker, Amanda Kessel and Lee Stecklein have all now made three teams.
“We’ve worked through a comprehensive evaluation process that has led us to this 23-player roster,” said U.S. head coach Joel Johnson in a statement. “This team has great veteran leadership, in combination with an infusion of younger talent.
“The skill, focus and energy they bring to the ice will serve us well as we head to Beijing with our sights set on bringing home gold.”
Of the 15 players on the roster with Olympic experience, all but Megan Bozek and Alex Carpenter were part of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games gold medal-winning team that beat archival Canada 3-2 in a shootout to finish atop the podium.
The U.S. has medaled in every Olympics since women’s hockey was introduced to the Olympic program in 1998, including gold in 1998 and 2018.
The squad was introduced during the second intermission of the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues played in frigid temperatures at Target Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins.
The NHL last month said it would not send players to the men’s ice hockey tournament citing the pandemic’s “profound disruption” to its schedule caused by a surge of COVID-19 cases in team locker rooms.
As of Saturday, the NHL had postponed 90 games for COVID-19 related reasons.
The Beijing Olympics are scheduled from Feb. 4-20.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Kim Coghill)