College Components Making Major Contributions for U.S. Squad

Barnes, Brodt Have Each Tallied in Four Nations Cup Play


In college, between classes, maintaining a social life and the additional responsibilities of being a student-athlete, it’s important to develop an efficient and effective routine.


That routine shifted for 11 players from the United States Women’s National Team ahead of the Four Nations Cup, as the handful of student-athletes uprooted from their respective college campuses, joining the U.S. squad in Chicago before heading to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for tournament play.


They’ve been making an impact on the ice ever since, although it does come with some challenges, such as study sessions not being limited to video with coaches.


“With classes it can be kind of hard, a lot of stuff is online though so it hasn’t been too bad,” forward Sydney Brodt said. “With the play, the pace of play is obviously super-fast. All the players are so talented here which makes it easier transitioning, especially with the help of all the veteran players. It’s been fun getting to play with them and get to know some of them.”


While there’s certainly an adjustment, it’s more so the style of play between college hockey and international play that differs, but the shift has looked seamless on the ice.


“I think the transition has been pretty smooth for all of us,” blue-liner Cayla Barnes said. “Everyone’s fitting in nicely.”


Of the college contingent, five are playing in their first Four Nations Cup, a list that hosts Mikaela Gardner, Caitrin Lonergan, Emma Polusny, Melissa Samoskevich and Minnesota Duluth’s Brodt. Annie Pankowski represented the U.S. in the tournament last year.


Barnes heads the group of collegiate players that starred on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, along with Maddie Rooney, Kelly Pannek and Barnes’ Boston College teammates Kali Flanagan and Megan Keller. 


The fact that newly appointed Bob Corkum has come in as head coach has enabled the college athletes to start with the same clean slate as the group of veteran national team members when it comes to picking up the new systems and language.


They’ve been focused on just playing their game and it’s showed.


Sydney Brodt's late game-winning goal against Canada led to her being named U.S. Player of the Game.Sydney Brodt's late game-winning goal against Canada led to her being named U.S. Player of the Game.Brodt and Barnes both scored for the U.S. in their 5-1 win over Finland. Rooney made nine saves in the opening contest.


A junior with the Bulldogs, Brodt tallied again against Canada, scoring the game-winning goal with 1:38 remaining in the third period to propel the United States to victory. Brodt was named U.S. Player of the Game for her performance.


The collective group of youngsters have left quite the impression on the veterans through their inspiring play.


“They’ve done an awesome job,” Kendall Coyne Schofield said, who assisted on Brodt’s game-winner. “We have a pretty established group of college players. You kind of forget that they’re in college except on the off days when you see them on their laptops doing their homework.” 


Coyne Schofield and Brodt have been playing on the same line, alongside Brianna Decker. Brodt’s emergence hasn’t come as a surprise to Coyne Schofield.


“She’s a great person, super fun to get to know,” the two-time Olympian said. “I actually remember playing against her when I was on the Minnesota Whitecaps and she was a freshman. I thought ‘dang this kid’s good.’ It’s nice to see her here two short years later.”


With a new quad underway, the fresh legs have provided quite the refresher for Coyne Schofield.


“They’ve brought some exciting youth, it’s been really fun to get to know them,” Coyne Schofield said. “It’s definitely revived our team a little bit, to hear their questions, their excitement or their nerves of playing in their first national team game or their first big rivalry game against Canada.”


The victory over Canada was big, serving as the first meeting between the two squads since the epic gold-medal showdown in February at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

 Back at BC, Barnes is playing a prominent role from the blue line. The Eastvale, Calif., native is one of four Eagles representing the U.S. in Saskatoon. (photo: John Quackenbos)Back at BC, Barnes is playing a prominent role from the blue line. The Eastvale, Calif., native is one of four Eagles representing the U.S. in Saskatoon. (photo: John Quackenbos)

“I thought everyone played well and everyone contributed,” Barnes, 19, and the youngest member of the 2018 Olympic team said. “One of the biggest takeaways is it’s not over until it’s over. We scored with 1:30 left to win the game. I think that’s a really good learning point for everyone including us that you never know what’s going to happen so keep fighting until the buzzer beats and we did that. We pulled out a win and I think it was a great team effort overall.”


For Brodt, it was the first time facing off against the North American rival on the national team level.


“It’s a very intense rivalry,” the North Oaks, Minn., native said. “It’s always fun to play against them. They’re a physical team and they’re always going to play their best against us. It’s super awesome to be a part of this rivalry and I’m excited to hopefully get to play them again on Saturday.”


While it is likely that the two rivals face off again on Saturday for the Championship game, for now the Americans shift their focus to Sweden, with puck drop set for Friday at 4pm ET.


“I think as the game went on and we learned more about ourselves and Canada, the way they play, kind of getting used to the pace and the physicality,” Brodt, 20, said. “I think we can learn from that and play even better versus Sweden.”


The United States would claim their fourth consecutive Four Nations Cup should they emerge victorious in their final two games. However, the college players wouldn’t hint at a possible Canada rematch until it’s finalized, and while they’re currently not in the classroom, they are maintaining their desire to continuously learn.


“I think bringing the skills we’ve learned here back to our college teams can help us grow so much more,” Barnes, a redshirt freshman said. “I think every college hockey player does that. We’re here to learn, we’re here to grow and we’re excited to bring that back to our team at home.”

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