The 2014 men's team might have gotten most of the coverage, but they weren't the only Olympians on hand at the Winter Classic on New Year's Day. Between the second and third periods of the game, the members of the US women's team were introduced to the nearly 106,000 people at Michigan Stadium.
The women heading to Sochi to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics might not have the name recognition of their NHL counterparts, but they're big-time competitors. The US team won silver in the 2010 Games, losing to the Canadians in the gold medal game, just like the men. But unlike the men, the women's team has won a gold medal in recent Olympic competition. Women's hockey was introduced as an Olympic sport in the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, and the US team won that first tournament. Since then, Canada has taken home three straight gold medals. The American women, meanwhile, have two silvers and a bronze in the last three Games.
But ignore the medals for a minute: These women are world-class hockey players and athletes. Eleven of the 21 members of the US team play in a professional league (the rest come from college programs), and 10 of them were on the 2010 Olympic team. (When forward Julie Chu hits the ice in Russia, it will be her fourth Olympic tournament!) And they play as hard as the guys. Need proof? Check out this fight at the end of an exhibition game between the US and Canada:
That kind of scrum is intense, no matter who's on the ice. Sure, hockey's not just about fighting. But if you think watching women's hockey will be boring or somehow less entertaining than the men's game, you might want to think again.
"Our team is younger, so I think we're faster as well, and when you get a team that's a little bit stronger but not as fast, like Russia, you get situations you aren't used to. But we train for that, to have a knee stuck out or to have someone bury you into the glass," forward Hilary Knight told SI Kids this summer. "You just have to have your head up out there."
The US women's team begins Olympic play on February 8. Check out the full 2014 US Women's Hockey roster below. Click on each player's photo to learn more about them. The players with a star next to their name played in the 2010 Games.
*Brianne McLaughlin *Molly Schaus *Jessie Vetter
Burlington Barracudas (CWHL) Boston Blades (CWHL) Oregon Outlaws (GLHL)
*Kacey Bellamy Megan Bozek Gigi Marvin
Boston Blades (CWHL) University of Minnesota Boston Blades (CWHL)
Michelle Picard Josephine Pucci Anne Schleper
Harvard University Harvard University Boston Blades (CWHL)
University of Minnesota
Alex Carpenter *Julie Chu Kendall Coyne
Boston College Montreal Stars (CWHL) Northeastern University
Brianna Decker *Meghan Duggan Lyndsey Fry
University of Wisconsin Boston Blades (CWHL) Harvard University
Amanda Kessel *Hilary Knight *Jocelyne Lamoureux
University of Minnesota Boston Blades (CWHL) University of North Dakota
*Monique Lamoureux *Kelli Stack
University of North Dakota Boston Blades (CWHL)
What do you think of the US team roster? Can they get back to the gold medal game and win the 2014 tournament? Share your opinions in the comments section below!
Photos: Scott W. Grau/Icon SMI (team), USA Hockey (players)