USA Hockey announced this morning a slate of forty players invited to its Women’s National Team Selection Camp, hosted in Blaine, MN, from June 1-6. The goal of the camp is to trim down the selectees to a roster of 28 players that will centralize in preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, to be announced in late June — and of those 28 players, 25 will go on to represent the United States at the 2021 World Championship in Canada in August.
Fans of the NCAA — particularly Boston College, Wisconsin, and Minnesota — will recognize a lot of familiar faces in this group, though there are some glaring omissions. You can view the selection camp roster in its entirety here.
Fourteen members of the 2018 Olympic gold medal-winning team are accounted for, including names like Hilary Knight (currently the oldest player at camp, at 31), Brianna Decker, Amanda Kessel, and Lee Stecklein, along with Alex Cavallini, who emerges as the senior-most member of the group’s goaltenders.
Technically veterans of the national team, defenders Megan Keller and Cayla Barnes have also earned the nod with their invites to the selection camp, as did Megan Bozek, who has spent the last couple of seasons competing with the ZhHL’s KRS Vanke Rays in China and Russia.
One of the most notable absences is that of Kacey Bellamy, who announced her retirement earlier this week. The American blue line will definitely feel the loss of Bellamy as she’s made a case for herself as one of the most reliable defenders in USA Hockey’s history.
This roster is exceptionally young, with a handful of players born after the turn of the millennium getting invites. Most notable is Caroline Harvey, a Wisconsin commit who was named to the initial 2021 Worlds roster before the tournament’s postponement, and who is one of four 2002 birth years invited to the camp. Rising sophomores and future teammates of Harvey’s Makenna Webster and Lacey Eden were also invited, alongside future competitor Abbey Murphy. Harvey is the youngest defender in the group by nearly two years, followed by Minnesota’s Gracie Ostertag.
Earning her first senior camp invite is Liz Schepers, a graduate of Ohio State who has vocalized her intent to return to the Buckeyes for her extra year of eligibility. Schepers is joined by WCHA competitors Ostertag and Anna Wilgren as first-time camp invitees.
1P | It doesn't get much better than this— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) November 22, 2020
Emma Maltais sends a cross-crease pass to Liz Schepers, who taps it right in behind Bench.
2-1 Buckeyes pic.twitter.com/icWbcB095K
Every year, a number of talented players get left behind, and this year was no different. The omission of a couple of players, however, was particularly shocking.
One of the biggest absences from this selection camp roster is that of Skylar Fontaine, twice named Hockey East’s Best Defender (2020, 2021) and a notable omission from the initial 2021 Worlds roster. During her senior season at Northeastern, Fontaine finished in a three-way tie for third place in scoring amongst all NCAA skaters, with 14 goals and 16 assists, good for 30 points.
Additionally, Natalie Snodgrass — a staple of the 2015 and 2016 gold-medal winning U18 squad — was not named to the selection camp’s roster, though her on-ice performance at UConn dropped off a bit this season relative to years past. Snodgrass has been almost a surefire invite to past camps, though, which leaves me scratching my head a bit at her omission.