If womens hockey is looking to showcase the game & get the attention of the men, maybe Sweden can play Valentina Lizana a bit more?
Sweden at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver will rely on Kim Martin to carry the load. Understandably, she is clearly one of the top goalies in womens hockey, if not the best. But the Swedes have another pretty decent goalie in Valentina backing up. With a resume that sports multiple European Womens championships, Swedish womens league championships & over 30 National team games, including 4 shutouts, Lizana has a pretty nice resume of her own...and shes still only 19.
What garners her more attention however is off the ice, her looks. The 5'7 dark brunette beauty looks more like a model than an elite athlete. The sport of womens hockey is always looking to market itself to get into the mainstream, this girl could be the answer for hockey that Anna Kournikova was for tennis. She has the looks, and talent.
Last year, while Kim Martin was recovering from an inury, it was Lizana that backstopped the Swedes. With an impressive .933 SPCT & a 1.25 GAVE, it was certainly cant be blamed on her they limped into a 4th place finish.
I got to see first hand this unknown gem in Vancouver this summer. In the game I watched she played against the powerhouse U.S. team. In the end, the result was an unflattering 7-0 defeat, but her play, especially in the 1st period where it could have easily been a romp already, was nothing short of stellar.
Sweden right now has their saviour Kim Martin. But the future might already be here in Valentina Lizana.
Hard to imagine a 2 time MVP of the World Championships being overlooked often, but this is often the case for Jennifer Botterill.
Playing in the shadows of womens hockey icon, Hayley Wickenheiser, Jennifer Botterill has put together one quite spectacular resume of her own. Going into her 4th Olympics, Jennifer has 2 Gold medals, and a silver. She has 5 World championships. She also has those two World Championship MVP titles.
During her college career at Harvard University, Jennifer won the Patty Kazmaier award as top collegiate womens hockey player. Twice. A feat never done before, or since. She holds the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a point at 80 (scored a point in 106 of her 107 career games), has the NCAA all time record for points with 319, and has an NCAA championship.
She has been a CWHL league scoring champion while playing for her club team, the Mississauga Chiefs. She won the Esso National Championship with that team as well in 2008. She simply wins at every level she plays at.
With all this on her resume, she is often overlooked when people talk about who are the best womens hockey players. Of course, when you play with Hayley Wickenheiser, possibly the greatest womens hockey player of all-time, that tends to happen. But dont be fooled, Botterill is herself, one of the greatest ever.
Team Canada will certainly he aiming for Gold on home soil in Vancouver this February. With talent like Jennifer Botterill on the team, you can see why they have such expectations.
You find out more about Jennifer on her official website http://www.jenniferbotterill.com/
A 3 time World Championship team member, Rebecca Johnston has just in the last year started to come into her own.
Mainly a fringe player in her first couple tournaments with Canada, Johnston stepped into a more notable role last World Championships in Hämeenlinna, Finland last year where she registed 5 points in 5 games. This year, in the Hockey Canada Cup, she repeated that performance, again potting 5 pts in 5 GP.
The 20 year old Cornell University Big Red forward is now one of the up coming offensive pieces Canada is looking at to carry them into the future & right now, she has her chance to show shes up to it. Going into her 1st Olympic games, Johnston is not a stranger to international competition, playing in over 20 tournament games, and many more exhibition games.
She has success everywhere she seems to go. Rebecca is an Ivy league Rookie Of The Year Winner, and a top 10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier award last season for top Collegiate player in womens hockey. As a multi-sport star, Johnston is no stranger to major athletic competition even before her Team Canada career. She is also a bronze medalist in the 400 Metres at the Canadian Junior Track & Field Championships in 2006 & a Provincial champion in multiple events.
Johnston will be looked upon to contribute for the Canadians this tourney on the scoresheet. If she does, then a gold medal might finally be draped around Rebeccas neck.
Imagine an NHL offensive weapons skill set, in a 5'7 170 lb frame. You might get some idea of what Haley Irwin brings.
Irwin, the 21 yr old offensive dynamo from Thunder Bay, Ontario is entering her first Olympics. In fact, her total experience for Canada at the major national level is limited to just the past couple years, but shes already making an impact. With 5 pts in 5 GP at her very first World Championship, Haley showed she belonged. Which is something Team Canada wasnt so certain about that long ago. Gifted offensively, they werent sure of her other skills.
At the NCAA level, Irwin has been a member of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, coached by Shannon Miller. It was a good fit. Miller knows a little something about getting to the Olympics, as the coach of Team Canada in the 1998 Olympics. Miller worked with Irwin & turned her into a more responsible, well rounded player, and Team Canada eventually came calling.
The teammight still be lead by Wickenheiser, Hefford and Botterill up front, but the next crop is already here. Haley Irwin will be front & centre of that next crop and would love nothing more than to start her Olympic career with a Gold medal in Vancouver.
If Team USA wins Gold in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics, it will likely be Jessie Vetter in goal for it.
Going into her first Olympics, Vetter is a safe choice to be the goalie of choosing for USA coach Mark Johnson in big games. With 2 World Championships and 3 NCAA championships firmly in her trophy case in just 3 years, Vetter might be the hottest asset in womens hockey right now.
With her former college team, the Wisconsin Badgers, Vetter crushed longstanding NCAA records in the 2006-7 season, that saw her post an unprecidented 0.83 GAVE (first to ever eclipse the 1.00 barrier), a record of 448 mins 32 seconds of consecutive shutout hockey and become the first female goalie to post a shutout in the Frozen Four tourney (which she did twice) and holds the NCAA records for career shutouts at 39. Save percentage at .941 & Wins at 91. This is topped off with being the 2 time NCAA Frozen Four tournament MVP.
A natural athlete, Vetter was also goalie for her high school soccer team that won 3 straight Wisconsin state championships. In the end, with a chance to compete in both at college, she went with hockey. American hockey fans are happy she did.
Team USA will be aiming for Gold in Vancouver in 2010. Its a goal that is within their reach. Soon every American hockey fan will know who Jessie Vetter is. They will know that a gold for Team USA is a very possible goal with Jessie Vetter in net.
Viewed by most as the top womens defender in the world, Angela Ruggiero will be expected to bring that skill set to Vancouver to help the U.S.A. Womens hockey team try & get a Gold in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
Ruggiero is a veteran of the Olympics, as she enters her 4th games. With a Gold, a silver & a bronze, the last two both being less than she hoped, Angela will come into the 2010 games on a mission. Return to the top.
Her resume reads like no other in womens hockey. Namely because of a feat she accomplished that has still to this date, not been matched. She played in a professional mens league in North America in a non-goalie position. Playing for the Tulsa Oilers of the CHL, she created history, and entered the Hockey Hall Of Fame with the accomplishment... with her brother Bill, as the first brother-sister duo to ever play a pro hockey game together. Now playing for the Minnesota Whitecaps of the WWHL when she isnt on Team USA, Angela his helping to grow the womens hockey game by playing in one of its top leagues.
Shes such a notable name, that off the ice, her success has transcended into a television career. With a spot on Donald Trumps The Apprentice being the most notable of these.
She is the all time leader in games played for Team USA, 3 time World Championship Gold medalist. There is pretty much little to nothing left for her to accomplish, yet she still keeps going. With various business world job offers at her disposal, she put them all on hold to go after another gold medal in 2010. That drive & determination is what makes Angela so valuable to Team USA.
Team USA will come into the Olympics as a heavy favorite to win a gold in Vancouver. With Angela Ruggiero on the ice for them, that goal is a real possibility.
You can check out her website at www.angelaruggiero.com/
You can follow Angela on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AngelaRuggiero
Whats better than 1 great offensive weapon? How about 2 of them? Thats what you get with Monique & Jocelyne Lamoureux. Team USA womens (albeit more attractive) version of the Sedin twins.
Monique already has a WCHA scoring title and Rookie Of The Year trophies on her mantlepiece at the collegiate level. Add ontop of that her 2009 World Hockey championship gold medal, and she has quickly put together an impressive resume at only 20 years of age.
While Monique may have the awards, its certainly would seem Jocelyne is the catalyst for her success. Jocelyne put up more assists than her twin sister last season, and with a .565 faceoff percentage, its clear the majority of their scoring plays probably came off getting control of the puck off the draw. She too has a World Championship gold medal from the 2009 tournament. As well, she was on the WCHA all-rookie team & 1st team all-star.
With several immediate family members involved in competitive sports thru their lives, its no surprise that Jocelyne & Monique are so athletically blessed. A father who played goal in college, a mother who runs marathons & was a swimmer, as well as brothers who play & coach in the sport. They almost seemed destined to be great athletes. Certainly, the University of North Dakota is happy for their pedigree, it has given them 2 top level athletes.
While U.S.A. will likely rely on the likes of Natalie Darwitz, Hilary Knight or Julie Chu to lead the team offensively, they may just be watching the Lamoureux twins closely to see if they will be the leaders come next Olympics. Considering they had 16 game winning goals between them last collegiate season, it wouldnt be a stretch to see one of them pop in a Gold medal winning goal in Vancouver.
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