By Kate Raddatz

BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) — Nearly four years ago, the United States Women’s Hockey Team won gold in South Korea.

Monday, they’re ready to head back to the Olympics to defend that title, this time in China.

Six members of the team are from Minnesota, so it only makes sense the sendoff happened in “the State of Hockey.”

There was so much energy and excitement Monday at the National Sports Center in Blaine as fans showed up to show their support for the player. They got a great sendoff as they left the center in a bus. They are heading to Los Angeles before flying to Beijing.

(credit: CBS)

Of the 23 players, nine of them have ties to Minnesota. WCCO talked to Molly Pannek, mother of Blaine-native Kelly Pannek, about what it means for her daughter to play on the world stage.

“It’s incredible. These girls have worked very hard. It’s been a weird couple years with the pandemic, and so while it’s weird we won’t meet them there and cheer them on in person, it’s good to have a nice sendoff for them,” Pannek said.

A representative for USA Hockey tells WCCO the team will be getting all of their gear and swag in L.A., as well as their final COVID-19 tests while in the U.S. They leave for Beijing on Thursday.

MORE: U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Prepping In Minnesota For Beijing Olympics

Kate Raddatz