The United State women’s national hockey team and USA Hockey have reached an agreement on a four-year deal that will result in the Americans playing in the IIHF world championship tournament beginning Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.
On March 15, the American players threatened to boycott the world championship tournament if a new deal couldn’t be reached. The players had been negotiating with USA Hockey for over a year. USA Hockey did try to put together a replacement team to participate in the tournament but got few, if any, takers.
Two Connecticut Whale players were selected to play on the United States’ world championship team – forward Kelli Stack and rookie forward Haley Skarupa. Whale forward Dana Trivigno is part of the national team but wasn’t selected to play in this tournament.
Stack led the Whale with 12 goals this year and finished with 19 points, second on the squad (12-7). Skarupa led the team in scoring with 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists).
The Americans, the defending world champions, play Canada on Friday night at 7:30 p.m., in Plymouth. The U.S. has won seven of the last nine world championship tournaments.
Financial terms were not released but a statement from USA Hockey said that the deal includes the formation of a Women’s High Performance Advisory Group of former and current players from the U.S. women’s national team program, along with volunteer and staff leadership, to meet regularly to assist USA Hockey in efforts to advance girls’ and women’s hockey in all areas, including programming, marketing, promotion and fundraising.
“Our sport is the big winner today,” said Boston’s Meghan Duggan, captain of the U.S. women’s national team. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together.
“I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough,” she said. “It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the world championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”
“Today reflects everyone coming together and compromising in order to reach a resolution for the betterment of the sport,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “We’ll now move forward together knowing we’ll look back on this day as one of the most positive in the history of USA Hockey.”
“I’m glad we could come together and reach an arrangement that will have a positive and lasting impact,” said Boston’s Hilary Knight, a veteran forward of the U.S. national team. “This is an inspirational time and we’re excited to get back on the ice and represent our country.”
Team USA schedule
Friday, March 31: vs. Canada, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 1: vs. Russia, 3:30 p.m.
Monday, April 3: vs. Finland, 7:30 p.m.
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, April 4, time TBA
Semifinals: Thursday, April 6, time TBA
Championship: Friday, April 7, 7:30 p.m.