U.S. women make stop in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID – The United States National Women’s Ice Hockey Team has headed north to Ottawa, Ontario for the world championships after wrapping up a week-long training camp in Lake Placid Sunday.

The camp started with 28 of the top players in the country and on Saturday, the team announced a roster of 23 players who will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships, which begin Tuesday and end with the gold and bronze medal games on April 7.

Rivals Canada and the USA have been the only teams that have won the world championships in the 14 years the tournament has been held, and they will clash Tuesday in a opening-round game in what could be a preview of the final if the event’s history holds true to form.

The Americans will be looking for some revenge from last year’s tournament in Burlington, Vt. that saw Canada claim the gold medal with a 5-4 overtime win against the U.S. Team USA routed Canada 9-2 in first-round action there.

“They have an empty feeling, no question about it,” U.S. head coach Katey Stone said after her team’s scrimmage Friday at the Olympic Center. “It was bittersweet for sure. Burlington was a great host, the crowds were great, it was great for women’s hockey, but we didn’t get the result we wanted.”

In what has arguably become one of sports most competitive rivalries, Canada and the U.S. have been the only gold medalists in the history of the world championships, as well as the Olympics. Canada has a big edge in both with 10 titles at the worlds and three gold medals in the four times the Olympics have hosted women’s ice hockey. The Americans took top honors at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games when the women’s game was first played as an Olympic sport.

The Canadians captured eight straight world championship titles starting when the tournament began in 1990, but the American women have won four out of the past six crowns since claiming their first gold medal in 2005.

The Lake Placid training camp began last Monday and the women finished their on-ice preparations Friday with a scrimmage against a team of area high school boys that featured a number of players who will compete this week as the Plattsburgh Roadrunners at the under-16 national championships in Troy, Mich. The women triumphed 7-1 in the scrimmage that was played in front of a sizable crowd at the Olympic Center’s USA Rink. The on-ice session ended with the Americans practicing their shootout skills.

Stone, as well as the senior national team manager Reagan Carey, said the training camp in Lake Placid was enjoyable and valuable.

“Any time the girls can put on the USA hockey jersey is a great experience, and it’s the same case here in Lake Placid,” said Carey, who is also the director for all the USA Hockey women’s programs. “This is a very special place for the game.”

“Everything we need is right here. We have the ice and the OTC is awesome,” Stone added. “We enjoy being here. It’s an awesome time of year to be here.”

The spotlight will be shining a little brighter on this year’s world championships with the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi less than a year away. Stone, who is in her third as the head coach of Team USA and also leads the women’s program at Harvard University, said her staff also has been looking toward the Olympics heading into this week’s world championships. After paring down the roster to 23 players who will compete in Ottawa, Stone and her staff are only permitted to have 21 skaters in their Olympic lineup.

“We are definitely thinking ahead, but right now, our kids are focused on the task at hand,” Stone said. “We are excited to be going to Ottawa. We’re are expecting big crowds and great energy.

“We are going to do whatever we can to win a championship,” Stone added. “We will be prepared for each and every game. These kids can play. They are right where they need to be.”