ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Women’s hockey gets started this weekend at the Sochi Olympics and the U.S. team has a strong Minnesota flavor. But beyond that, they’re excited for the chance to win America’s first gold since the very first gold.
As the first Olympics with women’s hockey, 1998 was a milestone for the sport. And the young girls who played it.
“I just remember them being so fast, and ‘Wow, they can crash the net and do all the things that boys do.’ So it’s exciting that I get to put on that USA jersey every day,” said Team USA defenseman and former Gopher Megan Bozek.
Now those girls are grown up and leading the way.
Just 11 months after winning her second straight national title with the Gophers, Bozek will be playing in her first Olympics.
“I’ve been so fortunate to be on successful teams, whether it’s at Minnesota or here,” she said.
Those successful teams consist of a lot of the same people. There are seven former Gophers on Team USA. Three graduates (Bozek, Anne Schleper, Gigi Marvin), two current (Amanda Kessel, Lee Stecklein), and two who transferred (Jocelyne Lamoureux and Monique Lamoureux). Three (Marvin, Stecklein, Schleper) are native Minnesotans.
“I mean, that’s important. That’s encouraging for us, to have that support. Who doesn’t love Minnesota?” Gigi Marvin said.
“It makes you kind of like a proud father,” added Gophers Coach Brad Frost.
Pride, yes, but Frost will also feel a little conflicted for Saturday’s first game. That’s because the U.S. opponent will be Finland, which has two more Gopher graduates, including goalie Noora Raty.
“I had her for four years and I didn’t find a weak spot on her,” he said. “I think she’s the best female goalie in the world.”
Still, no matter who comes out victorious, the fans may be the real winners.
“I think you’ll just see awesome hockey and great competition. That’s what it’s all about,” Marvin said. “You see people put their hearts on the line out there, every single shift. And that’s, to me, that’s what people love about sports. You get to witness people going all-out for their dreams.”
Just like 1998.