If the phrase “total domination” had to be embodied by one team, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Under-18 Team would definitely be on the ballot. They proved to be head and shoulders above the competition at the IIHF World Women’s Under-18 Championships in Fussen, Germany, outscoring their opponents 58-4 en route to winning the gold medal.
The tournament began Jan. 5 with teams playing a round robin within their groups, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinals.
Team USA excelled during group play, shutting out both Russia and Germany and blanking the Czech Republic in the semifinals. Goaltenders Corinne Boyles and Alex Rigsby only faced a combined 11 shots through their first two games before Sweden managed to put 33 shots on net in a 9-2 loss. When it was all said and done, the U.S. outshot opponents a whopping 276-98.
The team’s biggest challenge came against the tournament’s No. 2 seed, Canada, in the gold-medal game. Team USA took a two-goal lead in the second period, but saw it slip away, as Canada got on the board before the second intermission and knotted the game up midway through the third period.
“We were really nervous when they scored those two goals,” said Kendall Coyne, who was a member of last year’s gold-medal squad. “We knew we had to step it up because they wanted the gold medal as much as we did.”
That sent it to sudden death overtime, and the U.S. prevailed when Coyne found the net almost seven minutes into the extra frame, giving Team USA the win and securing their reign as world champions for the second straight year.
“At first it didn’t hit me and then I realized we won,” Coyne said. “It was an awesome feeling. Two gold medals in two years. Now we just have to keep the streak going.”
All Eyes On U.S. Talent
In an effort to have all its bases covered, Team USA has added another prominent general manager to the staff scouting players for the U.S. squad that will compete at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
According to Team USA General Manager Brian Burke, Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi will keep an eye on West Coast talent. The move was made in part because Burke left the Anaheim Ducks to take over as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Olympic management committee includes David Poile, Don Waddell, Paul Holmgren and Ray Shero.
“We’ll have a pretty comprehensive database [of players] by the end of the season, which will help us put our orientation camp together,” Burke told ESPN.com.
Team USA’s orientation camp is slated to be held in Chicago from Aug. 16-20.
Ruggiero Sets Longevity Mark
Angela Ruggiero made history when her skates hit the ice on Nov. 6 for a game between the United States and Canada during the 2008 Women’s Four Nations
Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., marking her 206th game in a Team USA uniform.
The Harper Woods, Mich., native surpassed Cammi Granato, who held the mark with 205 games played for the United States.
Ruggiero’s career with Team USA began in 1995, when she was just 15 years old. Not long after, she became the youngest member of the 1998 U.S. Olympic Team that won the first gold medal ever awarded in women’s ice hockey at the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.
She was also a member of the 2002 and 2006 U.S. Olympic Teams. Ruggiero has also played in eight IIHF World Women’s Championships, including in 2005 and 2008 when Team USA captured gold medals.
In 205 career games, Ruggiero has amassed 55 goals and 119 assists for 174 points. She is currently training in hopes of making her fourth Olympic appearance in 2010.
Bronze Keeps U.S. Under-17 Streak Alive
Jacob Fallon tallied three goals, and Will Yanakeff made 26 saves as the U.S. National Under-17 Team downed Canada West to earn the bronze medal at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge at Port Alberni, British Columbia.
Fighting back after a disappointing semifinal loss in overtime to Canada Pacific, the American squad extracted a small measure of revenge
to capture its third straight medal, and seventh overall, at
Nick Shore and Brandon Saad led Team USA with nine points each. Team USA outscored its opponents 38-13 during the Challenge.
The 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge featured international teams from five Canadian regional teams (Ontario, Quebec, Pacific, West and Atlantic), Finland, Germany, Russia,
Slovakia and the United States.
Team USA finished the tournament with a 4-0-1-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) and improved to 7-0-1-1 against international competition this