USA Hockey has made its first roster minimize with the 2018 Winter Olympics approaching in February. By Jan. 1, the nationwide group must be whittled right down to 23 gamers from the 25 who’re at present with the group in residency. Nonetheless, we already know who America’s three goalies are going to be: Alex Rigsby, Nicole Hensley and Maddie Rooney.
Rigsby, Hensley and Rooney are an exceptionally youthful triumvirate. In 2014, the nationwide group’s goaltending core was headlined by a then 28-year-old Jessie Vetter. A 25-year-old Molly Schaus and a 26-year-old Brianne McLaughlin accomplished the trio. All three goaltenders additionally represented USA on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. So it is a protected guess that we may see this new trio, particularly Hensley and Rooney, with the nationwide group for fairly a while.
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Rigsby, 25, is the veteran of the bunch, however like Hensley and Rooney she has no Olympic expertise. What Rigsby does have is 4 girls’s world championship gold medals and an NCAA title with Wisconsin on her resume. She’s no stranger to the nationwide group; Rigsby was the primary goaltender within the U.S. historical past to play for the U18, U22 and senior groups.
U.S. Ladies’s Nationwide Group coaches Robb Stauber and Paul Mara heat up goalie Alex Rigsby on Tuesday at Agganis Enviornment. #TheTimeIsNow pic.twitter.com/sk5aLkbOcB— USA Hockey Journal (@USAHMagazine) October 24, 2017
“I’ve appeared as much as Alex Rigsby ever since I received into this system,” Hensley instructed Sporting Information. “She’s additionally been my roommate a few occasions. She taught me how one can go about being a professional while you get invited to camps, how one can act in tournaments and on the ice. … She’s helped me on each step of my journey right here.”
Hensley is simply 23, however she’s already had some success enjoying within the best rivalry in group sports activities.
The Colorado native stole the present on the 2017 girls’s worlds championship that kicked off with an 18-save shutout towards Canada. One week later Hensley confronted Canada once more within the gold medal recreation. She stopped 28 pictures in an additional time victory to earn USA its fourth consecutive girls’s world championship gold. Beating Canada is one thing the Lindenwood College alumna takes very critically.
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“Each time we get to play Canada it supplies us with a chance to see how we measure up towards them,” Hensley defined. “It heightens the rivalry that rather more. Our purpose is to beat them each time we play.”
Rooney, 20, is even youthful than Hensley. In truth, she’s the second-youngest participant at present on the nationwide group. However, like Hensley, she’s coming off a powerful efficiency in a significant worldwide event. For Rooney that event was November’s 2017 4 Nations Cup. She posted a .903 save share and a Three-Zero-Zero document highlighted by an 18-save exhibiting towards Canada within the ultimate.
In February, Rooney may develop into the youngest American goalie to play for the ladies’s group in Olympic competitors.
Rooney admits it was a straightforward resolution to place her faculty profession on maintain for the chance to make historical past with the nationwide group and chase gold.
“It is at all times been the final word purpose of mine, but when somebody requested me final September I would not have anticipated that I may make this group,” Rooney instructed Sporting Information. “I did not actually get an concept that I may make this group till I used to be invited to winter camp, which was final December. I labored exhausting and received the decision for the worlds group and I used to be grateful for the chance to get the expertise underneath my belt.”
Robb Stauber is the top coach of the ladies’s nationwide group. He is additionally a former NHL goaltender. Stauber has given all three of his goaltenders an opportunity to hone their abilities and show themselves towards Canada throughout the Time is Now Tour. Rooney earned the newest begin on Dec. Three. She posted a .923 save share in 2-1 additional time loss towards Canada.
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USA wraps up the Time is Now Tour in San Jose on Friday. After that, it is again to Florida for extra scrimmages, movie and preparation earlier than the nationwide group’s first recreation in Pyeongchang on Feb. 11 towards Finland. Proper now, it’s extremely a lot an open competitors.
“It is fairly aggressive as a result of everybody needs to get that beginning place,” Rooney stated. “However there’s additionally a ton of help going into this nationwide group. I used to be the youngest and [Rigsby and Hensley] had been each nice leaders for me. I truly reside with Nicole and she or he and I’ve develop into nice pals outdoors the rink. Riggs has been an excellent position mannequin for me.”
What Rigsby, Hensely and Rooney lack in Olympic expertise they make up for in camaraderie. Residency with the nationwide group in Florida means an virtually university-like expertise, however as a substitute of schoolwork, there’s simply hockey. Tons and plenty of hockey.
Ladies on the U.S. nationwide group practice day-after-day for round 5 hours. As you may think about that is numerous movie to observe and numerous frozen rubber for Rigsby, Hensley and Rooney to cease. It is also numerous time spent collectively on and off the ice socializing, evaluating notes and speaking hockey.
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On the finish of the day all three goalies need to be between the pipes on recreation day, however they need the gold medal extra.
“Among the best issues in regards to the three of us is that we’re so supportive of one another,” Hensley defined. “We attempt to management what we will management. I attempt to exit and cease as many pucks as I can at apply which is what helps our gamers get higher and perhaps assist problem Maddie and Riggs to cease extra pucks. It retains all three of us enhancing.”
America’s younger goaltenders will have to be sharp when the Olympics lastly arrive. Canada has a definite edge in goaltending expertise and Rigsby, Hensley and Rooney all comprehend it. Shannon Szabados, 31, already has two Olympic gold medals and is 6-Zero-Zero in Olympic competitors. In all chance, she would be the riddle that america should resolve in Korea.
Stauber will likely be relying on Rigsby, Hensley and Rooney to carry the fort behind his quick, aggressive group of skaters. All three goalies of his goalies must be comfy with ready lengthy stretches between pictures. That type of focus requires an excessive amount of psychological fortitude. And while you’re enjoying within the Olympics with and towards one of the best hockey gamers on the earth, it additionally requires nerves of metal.
The excellent news for Stauber is that each one three of his younger goalies have confirmed themselves succesful in large tournaments earlier than. The massive query now: which goalie will likely be on the high of his depth chart in February? Stauber has lower than 60 days to determine it out.