Five weeks before the puck drops on the tournament, USA Hockey announced its roster for the 2021 IIHF World Championship.
Team USA will take 25 players to Halifax and Truro in Nova Scotia, Canada for the 10-day tournament that runs from May 6-16.
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The roster looks largely the same as the roster for the canceled 2020 Worlds tournament. Emily Matheson and Maddie Rooney are the two left off. Matheson is currently expecting a child, so her absence is to be expected.
Rooney is a bit interesting as the coaching staff opted for Nicole Hensley instead, who was not on the 2020 or the 2019 roster. Both were at USA Hockey’s training camp, which closed today, along with Alex Cavallini and Aerin Frankel. Hensley has been lights-out in the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour games thus far. She’s only allowed three goals and has a save percentage of .903, compared to Rooney’s six goals allowed and .891 save percentage.
Given that both goaltenders have played against the same team in every game, it seems like the coaching staff liked what Hensley was able to do against a few of her National Team teammates and gave her the nod. This is the first time Hensley will be on the National Team roster for an IIHF event since the 2018 Olympics — where she started in one game.
Skylar Fontaine is definitely a surprise to not make the roster out of camp, despite her limited experience in the National Team program. The defender out of Northeastern put up 30 points in 25 games last season, with five game-winning goals. In her four years as a Husky, she’s nearly a point per game defender and was a key component in their playoff run last season and National Championship appearance this season.
Annie Pankowski is another interesting name not on the roster. She was also not on the 2020 roster. This was a seemingly glaring omission after her outstanding 2019 tournament where she had the gold medal-winning goal in the shootout. However, Nicole Hasse tweeted Pankowski recently had arm surgery and may not be 100 percent, a good reason for her not to be on this roster.
Forward Sydney Brodt and defenders Natalie Buchbinder and Caroline Harvey are new additions from 2020, though Brodt was on the 2019 roster. Harvey, who turned 18 in October, has yet to make her collegiate debut with Wisconsin. This is a big jump-up in competition for her. She was on Team USA for the 2019 and 2020 U18 Worlds.
This will also be the first appearance for Britta Curl, Grace Zumwinkle, and Abby Roque on the senior team at Worlds. All three were on the 2020 roster which, obviously, they did not play in.