With the 2018 Four Nations Tournament underway in Saskatoon, it’s worth reflecting on league play, and how it carries over onto international ice for Team USA.
Three of the assist leaders in the NWHL are current or former rostered Team USA players. Lee Stecklein, a two-time Olympian, leads the league with six assists. While she was not at Team USA’s evaluation camp and is not on this Four Nations roster, it’s notable that she’s performing so well in her rookie professional season, and perhaps if that continues she’ll find her way back into a red, white, and blue jersey.
some cheddar from dani cameranesi pic.twitter.com/dKW7GGnyLH— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) November 6, 2018
Three players are tied for second in the NWHL with five assists assists, and two of them — Amanda Kessel and Dani Cameranesi — are on Team USA’s roster at Four Nations. Cameranesi made an immediate impact in Saskatoon, notching a goal and an assist in Team USA’s 5-1 win over Finland on Tuesday on the second line with Whitecaps teammate Hannah Brandt. She also assisted on Brandt’s first-period goal against Canada in Team USA’s 2-1 win on Wednesday, for a total of 3 points in 2 games.
Kendall Coyne-Schofield, also of the Whitecaps, leads the NWHL in shots on goal with 25 in five games played. Cameranesi is fifth in the league with 16. Coyne-Schofield has two assists in two games at Four Nations, both of which are primary and both of which came at crucial moments: she assisted Decker’s tying goal in the Finland game, and Sydney Brodt’s game-winner against Canada.
Amanda Kessel leads the NWHL in power play assists with two. She has been noticeable as a playmaker while the Riveters (1-5) have struggled to find their identity this season, notching five total assists, although she has only scored once. Cameranesi is averaging 1.5 points per game, while Kessel, Brandt and Coyne-Schofield are averaging a point per game. Kessel assisted Cayla Barnes’ goal in Team USA’s win against Finland but has otherwise been somewhat quiet so far at Four Nations.
North of the border, Brianna Decker has been tearing it up in Calgary. She’s second in goals with four, just behind Canada’s Mélodie Daoust’s five goals for Les Canadiennes. She’s also second in total points with seven, just behind Canada’s Jill Saulnier with eight.
Decker scored the tying goal in Team USA’s 5-1 win over Finland on Tuesday, and recorded an assist on Sydney Brodt’s first national team goal as well. She went on to assist Sydney Brodt’s game-winner against Canada on Wednesday, while wearing the C for the United States for the first time. There’s still most of the tournament to go, but it seems as though Decker has ratcheted up her game yet another notch since the Olympics.
Kacey Bellamy, also with the Inferno, is tied for second in the CWHL in points among defenders, along with Canada’s Laura Fortino. Bellamy has recorded one goal and three assists so far this season. On Tuesday, Bellamy’s strong play, particularly on the penalty kill, helped shore up Team USA’s young defense. On Wednesday, Bellamy took a minor penalty for checking Team Canada rookie Sarah Fillier into the boards from behind. The penalty resulted in an automatic 10-minute game misconduct, which took Bellamy out for the rest of the third period.
In Montréal, Hilary Knight has scored one goal and notched four assists in her first full season with Les Canadiennes. This makes her second among rostered USA players in terms of points in the CWHL. She had a goal and assisted Dani Cameranesi’s marker during Team USA’s 5-1 win on Tuesday. She also assisted Brandt’s first-period goal against Canada on Wednesday. Although Cameranesi, Brandt and Knight are a new line, they clearly work well together, and Knight’s ability to both make and finish plays contributes to their success.
.@HilaryKnight going to the net with the sweet deflection from Dani Cameranesi. Knight's combination of size, speed, and deft hands makes her a nightmare matchup for any defender. This goal gave USA a 3-1 lead in the 2nd period against Finland. pic.twitter.com/ekOTlRLYfJ— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) November 6, 2018
Megan Bozek only has two assists so far with the Markham Thunder, who have won as many games as they’ve lost. She has historically been a strong power play presence, with one of the hardest slapshots in the sport. Thus far, she’s yet to make an appearance in the box score in Saskatoon, but new head coach Bob Corkum has been putting on the ice in key situations.
Bulldogs with @LHChockey! Former players @sidneymorin @lara72122 @PernillaWinberg & @EveliinaSuonpaa will suit up for Linköping in 2018-19, while @KimMartin86 will continue to serve as GM! #GoDogs pic.twitter.com/ZRjGvcoXQL— UMD Women's Hockey (@UMDWHockey) August 28, 2018
Sidney Morin is the only professional skater for Team USA that doesn’t play in North America. She’s in her second season in the SDHL, this time with Linköping HC, and has 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 16 games. While this only puts her in ninth place for scoring in the SDHL, she’s averaging over a point per game (1.12) from the blue line.
In Saskatoon Morin was originally paired up with Mikaela Gardner during Team USA’s first game, but that pairing didn’t last long. During Team USA’s game against Canada, she broke up a dangerous two-on-one chance, but was also on the ice for Loren Gabel’s tying goal (along with BC senior Megan Keller). After a strong showing at the Olympics, she’ll be trying to prove that she should stay on the roster, especially with Bozek coming back and Stecklein still in the periphery.
Statistics for this piece were taken from the NWHL’s website, the CWHL’s website, Stats.swehockey.swe, and Hockey Canada’s 4 Nations page.