International Ice Hockey Federation

Erasing Burlington memory

Erasing Burlington memory

USA eyes bitter loss revenge in Canada’s capital

Published 26.03.2013 12:27 GMT-5 | Author John Sanful
Erasing Burlington memory
The U.S. women’s national team poses for a team photo at the New York Rangers’ locker room. The guy standing out in the back is Rangers player Mike Rupp. Photo: Julie Juarez / USA Hockey
As part of the preparations for the Women’s World Championship, Team USA practiced at the New York Rangers state-of-the-art facility in Greenburgh, NY. “It was a fantasy camp,” said captain Julie Chu.

Today, when the United States national women’s team goes through the last preparations for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Women’s Championship in Ottawa (April 2-9), Chu and her teammates can smile about it, but fact is that the camp was held during the most difficult times.

The American women arrived in the state shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in late October 2012. At the time, New York and New Jersey were just beginning to recover from the storm that caused significant damage to many towns and communities.

Trying to refocus on their task, team practices were conducted at the Madison Square Garden’s state-of-the-art facilities in Greenburgh, New York. The Madison Square Garden Training Center opened ten years ago and is widely acknowledged as one of the better training and practice centers in professional sports.

It is regularly used by the NHL’s New York Rangers, but also by the NBA team, the New York Knicks.

“We thought we were attending a fantasy camp,” said longtime USA Hockey skater and team captain Julie Chu. “When you first enter the building you are immediately aware that it’s an amazing facility. We were very fortunate that the Liberty opened up their locker room to us and the Rangers and Knicks were hosting us.”

Forward Kelli Stack also reacted to the facility with similar awe.

“We had never been to a place like that before,” Stack offered. “We got taken care of so well by the staff here and the USA Hockey staff. To play in the Rangers facility was a dream come true. It was awesome.”

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Heading to Ottawa, Team USA will be looking to erase their disappointing silver medal finish in the tournament at home in Burlington, Vermont. After defeating Canada 9-2 in the Preliminary Round, the Americans were beaten 5-4 by their biggest rivals in the gold medal game.

The World Women’s had never seen a bigger turnaround from the preliminaries to the final game. The 9-2 score was the biggest ever loss for Canada’s women in international competition.

“That was a huge letdown because we were on home soil and that would have been a special World Championship to win,” said Kelli Stack, who was named best forward in the tournament.

Chu, 30, and Stack, 24, are experienced veterans whose offensive contributions and leadership will be instrumental in Team USA’s success.

“We have a lot of players who are still in college so for me being 24 and out of college I think I have a little bit more responsibility and a little bit more pressure to perform and lead by example,” said Stack of her emerging role as a team leader. “I am looking forward to doing that.”

Apart from competing for IIHF World Championship medals, the 15th world tournament, which by the way will be played in the Ottawa Senators’ Scotiabank Place, is another important test for players that are aiming to get the call from their country to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“Every time we get together is a building block for 2014,” said Chu. “From the first camp that leads out to our Olympic cycle, the message is being sent that we are preparing for 2014.

Since winning their first IIHF Worlds in 2005 in Sweden – thus stopping Canada’s run for nine consecutive world championship titles – the United States have won four out of six Worlds gold medals.

Most observers feel that the USA women’s team has surpassed Canada in terms of basic skills, but the Canadian women have a remarkable knack of bouncing back when it’s least expected. The last championship in Burlington was a perfect example of that.

Therefore, there would be nothing better for the United States to defeat their archrivals in the nation’s capital – and take the momentum to Sochi, Russia.


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