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The Winter Olympics are finally upon us, and while Boston College’s men’s and women’s hockey teams are both having tremendous seasons, it’s time to turn to Sochi and check out the men’s and women’s national olympic teams. Both teams finished with the silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, with both losing to Canada in the gold medal game. This year they look to take the next step and hear the National Anthem once they’re standing on the medal podium.
For the US women’s team, the only goal is to win the gold after losing to Canada 2-0 in the 2010 gold-medal game in Vancouver. The rivalry between the United States and Canada has escalated in the previous year, most recently with a brawl that happened at the end of one of the final meetings between the two teams before the Sochi games. This tension between the two teams should make for some thrilling matchups in the coming weeks.
The US team will have a 22-woman roster, 11 of whom will be returning players from the Vancouver Olympic games. The women’s team also features University of Minnesota forward Amanda Kessel, sister to Toronto Maple Leafs Forward Phil Kessel, who will also be representing the United States for the Men’s team in Sochi. Three members of the team have also played at Boston College, goalie Molly Schaus ’11, forward Kelli Stack ’11, and current BC Junior Alex Carpenter.
Schaus is arguably the best goaltender in the history of women’s hockey at Boston College, and holds records for career wins, saves and goals against percentage. Schaus figures to be competing for time in the crease with teammate Jessie Vetter. Stack is also another BC standout, and holds records for career points, assists, power play goals and game winning goals.
While Carpenter is currently not playing for the Eagles, she has been quite an asset in the previous two seasons, racking up 109 career points, and is quickly rising up the record books. Both Carpenter and Stack figure to be contributors to the American attack. The women are scheduled in Group A of competition, and will play Finland on Feb. 8 at 3 a.m., Switzerland on Feb. 10 at 5 a.m., and finish group play against archrival Canada on Feb. 12 at 7:30 a.m.
For the United States men’s team, expectations are also simple: gold or bust. The heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss in the Gold Medal game against arch rival Canada is still talked about four years later, and this year’s team is out to redeem itself. The 25-man roster will feature 13 players from the Vancouver Games. Goalie Ryan Miller, who was named MVP of the Vancouver Olympic tournament is among those returning for the Sochi games, although there is no guarantee that he will be the starter in net in Sochi.
Former Boston College standout defenseman Brooks Orpik is also a member of the Olympic team. Orpik played 3 seasons for the Eagles, and was a part of the 2001 National Championship team before moving on to begin his professional career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Orpik figures to be a key asset to the American blue line.
The team is focused around speed and an up-tempo style of play, which will work to their advantage on a bigger ice surface used in this year’s games. The men’s team is in Group A of competition, and will start group play on Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. EST against Slovakia. The men play again on Feb. 15 against host Russia at 7:30 a.m. and end group play on Feb. 16 at 7:30 a.m. against Slovenia. The team will have to wait to seek revenge on Canada, who is in Group B, should they advance to the medal round of competition.