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USA Hockey invites 53 players to National Team evaluation camp

A five-day camp in Minnesota is part of the process to pick the 2021 Worlds roster.

Canada v United States - 2017 IIHF Women’s Gold Medal Game Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

USA Hockey announced last week the 53 players invited to their evaluation camp in Minnesota at the end of October as they prepare for the 2021 IIHF World Championship.

It’s a strange season for all levels of hockey, but especially at the National Team level. Typically by now the Fall Festival and U18/U22 Series should have occurred. The senior team should be preparing for the Four Nations Cup tournament, or the event that would have taken its place should it have been cancelled like last year. But amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, none of that has happened. To add insult to injury, the IIHF cancelled the U18 World Championship, and thus, USA Hockey’s evaluation camps for the U18 players.

All of this is to say that the roster looks a little different, a little younger, probably in part because of how much women’s hockey has lost this season.

Notes

  • There are two high schoolers, 31 current NCAA players, and 20 post-collegiate players.
  • Only two players from the 2010 Olympics team will be at the camp as players: Kacey Bellamy and Hilary Knight. Brianne McLaughlin, who was on that team, is the goaltending coach though.
  • Six players from the 2014 Olympic team remain as well: Bellamy, Knight, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Brianna Decker, Amanda Kessel, and Lee Stecklein.
  • Five of the players who won gold at the 2020 U18 World Championship are attending. They’ll suit up at camp alongside their assistant coach from that tournament — Brianna Decker.

Notable on the roster

Team USA fans — or really hockey fans everywhere — will want to watch Lacey Eden, even if she doesn’t make the 2021 Worlds Roster. She’s amassed seven points in 10 U18 Worlds games and averaged 1.82 points per game while at Shattuck St. Mary’s. Eden is part of Princeton’s Class of 2025, and was listed on PWHPA New Hampshire rosters in September.

All of the goaltenders attending are intriguing in their own way. Alex Cavallini and Maddie Rooney were to be expected. Nicole Hensley is back in the mix after not being named to the 2019 or 2020 Worlds rosters. Aerin Frankel was on the U22 Series roster a year ago and won a December 2019 Rivalry Series game as well. Calla Frank, who saw one game of action at U18, and Lindsay Browning round out the group as the well-deserving newcomers. USA has a deep goaltending pool and this camp roster is proof of that.

Notably missing from the roster

Emily (Pfalzer) Matheson has been a mainstay on the Team USA blue line dating back to the 2015 World Championship. At the 2019 Worlds, she put up six points in seven games. There may be off-ice obligations as to why she won’t be in Minnesota, but she’s a curious one to be missing from the camp roster. She was named to the 2020 Worlds roster.

Kelly Pannek is another long-time player on the National Team who was on the 2018 Olympic team and both the 2019 and 2020 Worlds roster but will not be at camp. In two Worlds tournaments she’s put up five points over 12 games.

What does Anne Pankowski have to do to make a roster, seriously? After being a late cut from the 2014 and 2018 Olympic teams, she’s only gotten better. She notched seven points in seven games at the 2019 Worlds after finishing an outstanding college career on a tear. Yet she wasn’t named to the never-planned 2020 Worlds roster and won’t be in Minnesota either.

To round back to goaltenders again, Katie Burt was looked over in place of the younger, less experienced goaltenders, even after her strong play in Game 4 of the Rivalry Series back in February 2020.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando are both expecting again, so the fact that they aren’t on the roster makes sense. What is interesting though is that neither sister was on the 2020 Worlds roster. We last saw them at the 2018 Olympics.

The 53 players are split into three teams and will play each other in a “tournament” of sorts. The camp is closed to the public.