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Team USA’s All-Time Starting Six

For years, Team USA has been one of the world’s leaders in women’s hockey. Narrowing that talent down to the six positional leaders was no easy task.

USA v Canada
Natalie Darwitz #20 of Team USA skates with the puck during the game against Team Canada at Scotiabank Place on January 1, 2010 in Ottawa, Canada.
Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

Team USA has no shortage of powerhouses, whether at forward, on the blue line, or in the crease. The United States Hockey Hall of Fame in Minnesota is chock full of them, actually — that Hall is populated with the likes of Cindy Curley, Karyn Bye-Dietz, Natalie Darwitz, the entirety of the 1998 Olympic team, and more.

Americans are even represented in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Cammi Granato was one of the first two women and the first American woman admitted in 2010. Since Granato’s induction, only one other American women’s hockey player has been instated (Angela Ruggiero).

The lack of American women represented in the Hall of Fame is by no means due to a dearth of qualified players. In fact, there are so many of them that narrowing down six of the greatest women’s hockey players to ever suit up for the stars and stripes was quite the challenge — but who are we to back down from a challenge?

Without further ado: Team USA’s all-time starting six.

Forward | Cammi Granato

1998 Nagano Winter Olympics: Team Canada v Team United States
Cammi Granato #21 of Team USA shoots during the women’s first round match against Team Canada at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics on February 14, 1998 at the Aqua Wing in Nagano, Japan.
Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images

The real question is what American records doesn’t Cammi Granato hold?

She leads all American skaters with a stat line of 44-34—78 through 43 games at Worlds, and holds the American record for the most goals and most points through any number of World Championships. Despite having represented the U.S. at only two Olympic tournaments, Granato ranks fourth all-time on the list of American skaters in career points (18) and goals (10).

Her trophy case is impressive too, with nine World Championship medals (8 gold, 1 silver), two Olympic medals (1 gold, 1 silver), and, as we mentioned, became the first American woman nominated and inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Suffice to say, there’s no one more deserving of a spot on Team USA’s all-time starting six than the legend that is Cammi Granato.

Forward | Natalie Darwitz

While Granato might take first place in the record books, Natalie Darwitz is always close behind, and therefore deserving of a spot on Team USA’s all-time starting six.

Her 11 points (4 G, 7 A) at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 ties her with Jenny Schmigdall-Potter for the American record for most points in a single Olympic tournament, and her 7 goals at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 is a stand-alone American record. Darwitz’s 14 goals across three Olympic tournaments is another American Olympic record. In terms of World Championships, she ranks third on the all-time American scoresheet with 29 goals, and finishes sixth in the American career point race.

For three consecutive years, she was named to the Women’s World Championship Media All-Star Team (2007, 2008, 2009), in addition to receiving the honor in 2004.

Forward | Hilary Knight

Hilary Knight has long been lauded as one of the faces of the modern era’s Team USA, and for good reason.

Her tenure with the American senior team includes ten World Championships, twelve Four Nations Cup appearances, and three Olympic tournaments. She’s amassed over 100 goals in the red, white, and blue, and last February she notched her 200th point on the American senior team with a power-play goal in the third game of the 2019-20 Rivalry Series against Canada. Since then, Knight has tallied six more points for a total of 206 — just 31 points shy of tying Natalie Darwitz’s career record (237).

Strictly in terms of World Championship point totals, Knight is second to only to Cammi Granato in the record books, with a stat line of 43-31—74 to Granato’s 44-34—78. She needs just one more goal at Worlds to tie Granato’s record, and with Knight having been named to the American 2021 roster, we have no doubt she’ll be able to get there.

Defense | Angela Ruggiero

Angela Ruggiero is one of the most formidable defenders on the planet, let alone for Team USA. With fourteen seasons and seventy-one games as a member of the American senior national team under her belt, there’s no question she should be enshrined as one of America’s all-time starting six.

Ruggiero was named the World Championship’s best defender six times throughout her career — that’s at more than half of her appearances, by the way — and became the first defender to win the Patty Kazmaier Award while splitting her time between Harvard and the international stage.

OLYMPICS — WOMEN’S HOCKEY Photo by Harry E. Walker/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Defense | Monique Lamoureux-Morando

Through seven World Championships and three Olympic tournaments, Monique Lamoureux-Morando has been a force to be reckoned with on the American blue line. She’s among the most elite defenders to ever step on the ice at both of her alma maters, be it Shattuck-St. Mary’s or the University of North Dakota.

On Team USA, though, Lamoureux-Morando was nothing short of legendary.

Despite being a veteran presence on defense, she’s also managed to rack up the points too, finishing her career in the top ten in several categories: Olympic points (16), Olympic goals (9), World Championship goals (19), World Championship assists (31), and World Championship points (50). Lamoureux-Morando has suited up for the United States for ten consecutive seasons, accomplishing all those feats in nearly 50 games.

Goaltender | Jessie Vetter

Jessie Vetter has played nearly 4,000 minutes and holds three career Olympic goaltending records for Team USA, and somehow still gets overlooked as one of the best American netminders — not just of the 2010s, but of all time.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 13 - Canada v United States Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

The three-time collegiate national champion has her share of international accolades, with two Olympic silver medals, eight appearances at the World Championships (all of which resulted in a first or second place finish), and two Top 3 Player honors at Worlds. Vetter has recorded six shutouts in the red, white, and blue across eight seasons of competition, and finished her career with an approximate .922 save percentage. She’s been solid and reliable in net, and while she may not be recognized as having the same superstar caliber as some of her international competitors, her steadiness and resiliency has kept the United States on their feet.

Honorable Mentions: Kendall Coyne Schofield (F), Brianna Decker (F), Jenny Schmigdall-Potter (F), Julie Chu (F/D), Kacey Bellamy (D)

Data courtesy of Mike Murphy, Elite Prospects, Their Hockey Counts, and Team USA.