USA Hockey Magazine

February 2017

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24 // FEBRUARY 2017 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM "As they have moved on it has opened the door for a number of other goalies," Carey said. "It's an exciting time for that position in our program." Rigsby led Team USA to a gold medal at the 2009 IIHF Under-18 Women's World Championship and has a NCAA national title at the University of Wisconsin in 2011 on her resume. "She's one of the best goalies in the world, she works hard and she is really committed," said Duggan, who also played on that Badgers national championship team. "And Nicole [Hensley] has been phenomenal; she just hasn't played in as many games. There has been some turnover, but I am super confident in our goaltending." Another young defenseman, 17-year-old Cayla Barnes, made a big impact on the veter- ans during her first training camp in November. "It's not easy to come in here and compete against players 10 to 12 years older than you are and make the team," Duggan said. "I couldn't get over how calm she was with play- ers barreling down on her and in the corners." The 20-year-old Keller, a junior at Boston College, credits the team's veteran leadership with helping her make the jump from the U.S. Women's Under-18 Team. "They made me feel comfortable from the beginning," said Keller, who won the gold medal with Team USA at both the 2015 and 2016 IIHF Women's Under-18 World Championships. "And they have been very good about showing us how hard you have to compete day in and day out to have success." For Duggan and her veteran teammates, creating a strong, positive locker room cul- ture isn't an accident. "It comes down to communication," she said. "Our veterans are on the same page and we talk to the rookie players—maybe they see things that we don't. That creates a very inclusive culture that helps everyone perform better." While the interests of teenagers can differ greatly from the post-graduate players who have been out of college for several years, one thing brings them together: making the team the best it can be. "It's great to see them support each other for that common goal," Carey said. "The vet- erans know what it's like because they were there once too. It's a really important cycle for our program." Duggan's first national team camp was in 2006, when the locker room included vet- eran standouts like Krissy Wendell, Natalie Darwitz, Angela Ruggiero and Julie Chu. That group of American stars instilled in Duggan the honor of wearing the USA jersey, and she makes sure that sentiment rubs off on her younger teammates. "We work every single day for that—every camp, every practice and every game that you put on the jersey you don't take it for granted," she said. "I have been on this team for 10 years and it's an honor every time I get that call that I made the team." P Philip Colvin is a freelance writer based out of Walled Lake, Mich. An influx of well-prepared younger players coupled with an increase in the number of "post-grad" veterans means that competition for a spot on the U.S. Women's National Team roster gets tougher with every camp. "The players know it and they love it," said Reagan Carey, director of the women's hockey for USA Hockey. "If you are at the top of your sport and are a true competitor, you love getting out here, battling and seeing where you stack up and doing what you can to stay in the mix. "The players are great, supportive teammates, but everyone is looking for a spot on that roster at the end of the day. They are doing everything they can out there and it is certainly more com- petitive every time they get together." Carey points to the synergy that runs from the U.S. Women's National and Olympic Team through the Under-18 program to the development camps and volunteers at the Affiliate level as driving the deeper talent pool. "Across the board we are working to make sure that the players know sooner than later what is expected and how to become an elite player," she said. "Our younger players are better prepared earlier." At the same time the program's older players are extending their careers. Over the last five years the number of post- grad players in the national program has jumped from 10 to 24. The two pro leagues, the National Women's Hockey League and Canadian Women's Hockey League, have given the players a place to train and compete to go along with the support that USA Hockey provides. "That combination really makes it feasible for them to continue their careers," Carey said. "Our college play- ers are getting the training they need in the NCAA, so when you take each of those buckets it's a dog fight out there." - Phil Colvin Talent Pool Gets Deeper k Alex Rigsby is among the trio of talented young goaltenders who will look to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of long-time netminders Jessie Vetter, Molly Schaus and Brianne McLaughlin.

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