Coach knows his starter in net for US opener, he won’t tell

Alex Rigsby,Nicole Hensley

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Robb Stauber knows who will start in net when the Americans kick off their quest for Olympic gold. The U.S. coach simply chooses not to share that information just yet.

He also hasn’t told his trio of goaltenders yet either.

Not that waiting to hear who gets the honor of playing Sunday against Finland is bothering Maddie Rooney, Alex Rigsby or Nicole Hensley. They’re all preparing as if Stauber will be tapping them first as the Americans look to end the country’s 20-year stretch without Olympic gold.

“I think we all just need to be ready to go,” Rooney said after practice Saturday. “We’re all competing for the No. 1 spot, and I think we’re all ready to go. Just waiting on the call.”

The Pyeongchang Games are the first Olympics for all three goalies , so prior experience at the world’s biggest tournament for women’s hockey won’t be a deciding factor. Rigsby is the oldest at 26 and the most experienced, having played for the United States in four world championships. The 23-year-old Hensley, from Lakewood, Colorado, was in net when the Americans beat Canada 3-2 in overtime last spring for their fourth straight world title.

Rooney is the youngest at 20, and she was in net for the Americans’ three wins over Canada last fall in a run that included winning the Four Nations Cup in November.

Not knowing who Stauber will pick for the opener is no problem so far, but Rigsby wouldn’t mind knowing at least a day before a game while Hensley says three or four hours before faceoff is enough for her.

“It doesn’t really matter because … I prepare the same way whether I’m playing or not,” Rigsby said.

Stauber, himself a former goalie who played 62 games in the NHL with Los Angeles and Buffalo, says he expects all three to dress even though rules limit each team to two active goalies for each game. The United States will play three preliminary round games capped Thursday against Canada, the winner of four straight Olympic gold medals.

The coach is leaving himself some room to change his mind as well in a short tournament.

“Let’s see how we do, keep it a little bit open,” Stauber said. “But we’ve got a good judge of where they’re at.”
And all three goalies trust their coach.

“All three of us are pretty comfortable with our routines that whenever he tells us, we’re pretty comfortable to jump in there,” Hensley said. “So obviously all three of us are itching to go. That’s what makes it so special. We’re all very supportive of each other, so it’s a very special group.”

Comments are closed.