MADISON, Wis. - Seven Badgers will play for gold in the Vancouver Olympic Games. USA Hockey and head coach Mark Johnson announced Thursday at Mall of America® the 21 players named to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Women's Ice Hockey Team.
The 2010 Olympians with Badger ties include goaltender Jessie Vetter (Cottage Grove, Wis.), defensemen Kerry Weiland (Palmer, Al.) and Molly Engstrom (Siren, Wis.) and forwards Erika Lawler (Fitchburg, Wis.), Hilary Knight (Hanover, N.H.), Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) and Jinelle Zaugg-Siergej (Eagle River, Wis.).
Angie Keseley (St. Louis Park, Minn.), who was part of the U.S. Women's National Team 23-player roster, was not retained as part of the Olympic team.
Engstrom is the only returning Olympian of the group; she won bronze in the 2006 Olympics, the same year former Badger Carla MacLeod won gold with Canada. Engstrom and MacLeod are the only two Badgers who have previously competed in the Olympic Games.
Duggan and Knight took a year off at Wisconsin to play in the 2010 Olympics. Knight is the youngest U.S. player at 20 years old, thus marking the first time that a U.S. women's Olympic ice hockey team will not include a teenager at the Games. Knight, who currently leads the National Team with 21 points (9-12) in 16 games, is just nine days younger than Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux (Grand Forks, N.D.), who will become the first set of twins ever to play hockey in the Olympics.
The U.S. team, which includes three goaltenders, six defensemen and 12 forwards, will continue competing in the Qwest Tour until departing for the Olympics on Feb. 7. The opening ceremonies are slated for Feb. 12, with Team USA's first game taking place on Feb. 14 against China.
The team was selected from the 23 players who made up the 2009-10 U.S. Women's National Team. The group has been training in Blaine, Minn., at the National Sports Center's Schwan Super Rink since early September, in addition to competing on the Qwest Tour and in two international tournaments.
"It's an exciting day for a lot of reasons," said Johnson. "It was an extremely tough decision, but now we can move forward and continue preparing ourselves. We feel good about the process, which gave everyone an opportunity. We're excited by the youthfulness of our team, as well as comfortable with the veterans and the leadership they will provide."
"We have 57 days to go before the opening ceremonies of the Olympics," said Michele Amidon, general manager for Team USA. "We're enthusiastic and confident that we have the best 21 players to help us achieve our goal of winning the gold medal."
The players with Olympic experience on the U.S. roster include Jenny Potter (Edina, Minn.) and Angela Ruggiero (Simi Valley, Calif.), who will both be playing in their fourth Games in Vancouver. Joining them as veterans are two-time Olympians Julie Chu (Fairfield, Conn.) and Natalie Darwitz (Eagan, Minn.), as well as 2006 Olympians Caitlin Cahow (Branford, Conn.) and Engstrom (Siren, Wis.). Of the 21 players, all but one have competed in an International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's Championship, including 19 who captured a gold medal last April to propel the United States to the No. 1 ranking in the world.
Courtesy: UW Media Relations