Only 23 American women will be heading to Pyeongchang in February to play hockey. Naturally that means that a lot of very talented women did not make the cut. Today at the Ice Garden we’re going to take a look at 23 more American athletes who nearly made the national team or should have made the national team.
Let’s take a look at USA Hockey’s All-Snub Team.
Alex Carpenter, Annie Pankowski, Kelli Stack, Shiann Darkangelo, Dana Trivigno, Stephanie Anderson, Miye D’Oench, Alexa Gruschow, Rebecca Russo, Zoe Hickel, Makenna Newkirk, Caitrin Lonergan, Amy Menke, Corinne Buie
Many of us still can’t believe that Kelli Stack isn’t going to Pyeongchang, and for good reason. The two-time Olympic silver medalist is one of the highest-scoring and most decorated players in the history of the U.S. national team. Stack is a potent combination of world class skill and relentlessness that makes for one of the best players in the world. But, for whatever reason, she wasn’t good enough for Team USA.
To her credit Stack has absolutely scorched the CWHL this season and in so doing has likely made the powers that be in USA Hockey question leaving her off the national team’s roster. And if they haven’t, they really should be. This season Stack has 16 goals in 15 games with Kunlun Red Star. Clearly, America’s loss has been China’s and the CWHL’s gain.
Darkangelo is a big, smooth-skating forward capable of playing both center and wing. Kunlun’s resident power forward is an Isobel Cup Champion and won gold with the U.S. national team at the 2016 Women’s World Championships. But the 24-year-old Darkangelo was not invited to join the national team in preparation for the 2018 Olympics.
If the U.S. national team’s size and strength are questioned during the Olympics Darkangelo is a player who needs to be talked about. At 5-11 she’s one of the biggest skilled players in the women’s game. Her strength and wingspan make her a nightmare matchup for a lot of teams, as fans of the CWHL have learned this season; Darkangelo has 12 points in 15 games with Red Star.
Dauntless and clever, D’Oench is one of the NWHL’s brightest stars and is a key contributor on the league’s best line this season. In her second year as a pro the New Yorker has six goals and six assists in eight games for the undefeated Riveters. It’s also worth mentioning that Kelly Babstock is the only NWHLer who has put more shots on net this year.
Perhaps the biggest strike against D’Oench is her size. At just 5-foot-4 the Harvard alumna can be dwarfed by opposing skaters, but D’Oench’s work ethic and instincts more than make up for it. Interestingly enough D’Oench will have an opportunity to measure herself against Team USA as a member of Team NWHL on January 13 and 15. Along with fellow Riveter forwards Gruschow and Russo, she has a chance to prove that she’s closer to being national team quality than some people might think.
Playing with Daryl Watts certainly doesn’t hurt Lonergan’s numbers, but she’s a damn good player in her own right. Lonergan currently leads the nation in game-winning goals and shares the nation’s assist lead with Watts. She’s already up to 53 points in 22 games this season as a sophomore.
Lonergan has proven her ability on the faceoff dot at the U-18 Worlds and in NCAA Division 1. She’s also a standout in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill who is capable of striking while shorthanded. Don’t be surprised if we see Lonergran playing on the national team in a bottom-six role in the near future.
The last captain of the University of North Dakota’s women’s hockey program is a three time attendee of USA Hockey’s Women’s National Festival (2012, 2015, 2016). Menke, a Minnesota native, is currently playing with the Minnesota Whitecaps, but she was drafted by the Riveters in the 2016 NWHL Draft.
If you haven't yet, please give this a read.https://t.co/5f2Semm4Ah— Amy Menke (@AmyMenke) April 20, 2017
Menke’s production did dip in her senior season at UND, but she put up 40 points in 35 games in her junior year. Like Lonergan she’s a standout defensive forward who has no qualms with stepping in front of shots and doing whatever she has to do for her team to get a win. On the national team she’d be a great fit as a defensive forward playing in a bottom-six role.
Megan Bozek, Michelle Picard, Blake Bolden, Courtney Burke, Jenny Ryan, Kelsey Koelzer, Alyssa Gagliardi
Bozek, like Carpenter, was one of the national team’s final cuts. Her omission from the national team is certainly eyebrow-raising. One needs only watch Bozek’s performance against the Boston Pride and its cadre of national team players from the 2017 Isobel Cup Final to appreciate what she can bring to a team. If you’re still unconvinced, keep an eye out for what Bozek does for her new team: the Markham Thunder.
In addition to having one of the best shots in hockey, Bozek is also a fierce competitor with a history of putting up points for the national team. She plays a lot bigger than her 5-foot-8 frame and knows how to get under the skin of Team Canada. She has a presence when she’s on the ice and the U.S. national team is going to miss it (and that bone-breaking shot).
Why wasn’t Bolden invited to USA Hockey’s National Team Selection Camp? Everyone who has watched Bolden play agrees that she’s an exceptional defender. But it appears that there’s some uncertainty about just how good she really is, especially among the folks who make roster decisions at USA Hockey.
After two seasons of outstanding play in the NWHL Bolden took her skills to Switzerland this season. In 17 games with HC Lugano the Boston College alumna has 15 goals and 11 assists. As impressive as those numbers are, they’re hardly surprising considering Bolden’s skill set. She’s an effortless skater blessed with a nasty shot and fantastic vision. Bolden would be a perfect fit for any team with speedy forwards that likes to catch its opponents flat-footed in the neutral zone.
So, why didn’t she get invited to the Selection Camp? We may never know.
Ryan may be just 5-foot-4 but that hasn’t stopped her from turning a lot of heads in the NWHL this season. The former University of Wisconsin standout was invited to USA Hockey’s National Team Selection Camp along with her current Riveters teammate and fellow defender Kelsey Koelzer. Ryan and Koelzer were two of 12 defenders invited to the camp, but neither of them made it to residency.
Ryan and Courtney Burke are without a doubt the best defensive pair in the NWHL this season. Ryan has 10 points in her first 8 games as a professional and has established herself as a dangerous two-way defender. Like Koelzer, her future is bright and could still include a role with the national team. With the exception of her size, Ryan really is the complete package.
Katie Burt, Shelby Amsley-Benzie, Katie Fitzgerald
Is Burt too young to play on the world’s biggest stage? Maybe, but the soon-to-be 21-year-old is already recognized as one of the best goalies in women’s hockey. The fact that she was one of the six goalies who received an invite for the national team back in April is evidence of that. It’s also worth mentioning that Burt was the first overall pick of the 2017 NWHL Draft.
A bona fide star of USA Hockey’s U-18 program, Burt has been dominant for the Eagles during her four-year NCAA career. Her numbers have slipped a bit in her senior season, but for Burt that means a .928 save percentage instead of .935 or .940 save percentage. Yes, she’s that good. If USA Hockey loses confidence in any of its current goaltenders after the Olympics Burt will almost certainly be the next goalie in.