After Team USA’s high-profile near-boycott of this week’s IIHF Women’s World Championships, the puck drops with the tournament squarely in the public spotlight. The women of Team USA earned dramatic increases in funding and support from USA Hockey as a direct result of their willingness to stay home from the second biggest event their sport has to offer, and now here we are.
All eyes are on the Americans.
The 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championships
Preliminary Round-Robin — Game 1
Date: Friday, March 31st, 2017
Time: 7:30pm EDT
TV: NHL Network (Live stream on NHL.com)
Venue: USA Hockey Arena, Plymouth MI
United States (0-0-0)
vs. Canada (0-0-0)
American Eagles: The American roster consists of no fewer than six (6) current and former Boston College Eagles. That’s more than a quarter of the roster:
(F) Kelli Stack ‘11
(D) Emily Pfalzer ‘15
(F) Alex Carpenter ‘16
(F) Haley Skarupa ‘16
(D) Kali Flanagan ‘18
(D) Megan Keller ‘18
What’s At Stake: Despite being the first game of the tournament for both teams, this matchup has big implications. As the only preliminary round game between the two powers of women’s ice hockey, the winner of this game will almost certainly earn a bye into the semifinals, and probably take the #1 overall seed.
History: Team USA has won 6 of the last 7 IIHF Women’s Worlds, which are held annually, except in Olympic years.
Unfortunately for the Americans, the sport’s most coveted prize has eluded them for a long time — Canada has won the last 4 Olympic gold medals. As the final Women’s Worlds tournament before the Olympics, this is expected to be a bit of a preview to set the stage for Pyeongchang 2018.
Big Questions: Of course, the number one question: Will the threatened boycott prove to have been a distraction, or will the Americans ride the wave of their successful challenge of USA Hockey and come out like gangbusters? How many Eagles will score goals? Will there ever be a time with 5 Eagles on the ice at once? Will there be an all-Eagle D pairing? An all-Eagle line of forwards? An all-Eagle power play? Will there ever be a time where there isn’t an Eagle on the ice?
Better Know An Eagle: Kali Flanagan ‘18
Kali is one of the current Eagles on the USA roster, and is, for now, a member of the Class of 2018. That may change, however, if she is selected for the Olympic roster next year. That would give Flanagan a red shirt for next year’s BC season as she centralizes with Team USA, pushing her graduation date out to 2019.
This is Kali Flanagan’s first appearance on the USA senior team. While she did participate in in several USA Hockey development camps in high school, she was not a member of either the USA U17 or U18 national teams. Her growth and development at BC under Katie Crowley and Courtney Kennedy have been nothing short of meteoric. She’s forced her way into the USA Hockey conversation, earning a spot on the 2015 & 2016 U22 teams and now finding herself on a very short list as one of the very best defensemen in the world on the senior national team.
Random, Possibly Incorrect Fact From Our Opponent’s Wikipedia Page: CANADA
Canada has a space program. Did you know that? I didn’t. They were apparently the third country to launch a satellite into space, after the USA and the Soviets.
Look at you, Canada! You’re doing grown-up things like a real country, yes you are!
Game Day Snack: Not Poutine
It’s french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. Just don’t do it. Joe and I once went to New Brunswick for a BC men’s hockey exhibition weekend, and Joe tried poutine and got sick.
So, your game day snack is Literally Anything Other Than Poutine. Scoop raw rice directly out of the bag, or eat pancake batter, or gnaw on tree bark if you have to. But do not eat poutine.
Game Day Song: Blame Canada
There’s no warm-up game in this one — the USA and Canada are getting thrown right into the fire for what may be a early preview of the gold medal game. Hopefully with home ice and a surge in crowd support after the events of the last few weeks, the Americans will be able to ride that momentum to a win.