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Olympic Notebook: Women's Team Pushes Pace in Practice

02/06/2014, 8:30am MST
By Cameron Eickmeyer & Harry Thompson - USAHockey.com

SOCHI, Russia - Everything off the ice, from time zone to jersey crest, has changed for the 2014 U.S. Women's Olympic Team, but head coach Katey Stone has delivered a message to her team in practice this week: Nothing has changed on the ice.

Looking to ride a wave of pre-Olympic exhibition game victories, Team USA's head coach kept her team's collective foot on the gas pedal in the second to last team practice before Saturday's opening game against Finland.

"The last three sessions have been really good," Stone said. "The kids are getting plenty of rest and are excited. They're ready to get this thing going."

The high-tempo practice has become the norm for the U.S. players and Lyndsey Fry said the team doesn't see any reason to change the plan now that they are in Sochi.

"It's what we've been doing for the last couple months," she said. "We're going to stay consistent with how we've been practicing. (Small area games) are great and it's what we're going to keep doing."

Small Area Games Stoke Competitive Fire

Stone utilized two cross-ice games in Thursday's practice, continuing a trend that she says she started in the fall as a way to spark her team.

"We went to condensing what we were doing," she said. "It's made a huge difference in our communication. You have to talk, you just have to. It's allowed our kids to use each other and rely on each other."

Putin Visits With U.S. Players, Staff

Russia President Vladimir Putin toured the Olympic facilities here this week and twice encountered U.S. women's players and staff.

Captain Meghan Duggan met Putin in the athlete village recreation center and said the quick meet and greet was memorable.

"He shook our hands and said ‘Nice to meet you,'" she said. "It kind of caught us off guard. It was one of those right place, right time kind of things."

Duggan said Putin asked athletes in the area in what sport they were competing and from what country the came.

"He walked in with his entourage and a bunch of media people. We got to shake his hand. It’s not every day that you get to meet the president of any country, so we were lucky to be there," she said.

USAHockey.com Olympic Webisodes

USAHockey.com will produce a series of webisodes during the Olympics that will feature post-game analysis, Q&As and other video features from around Sochi.

The first episode is live and embedded below. Check back often for new episodes and tweet to the show with your feedback and questions using #USAHPostgame.

More at USA Hockey Magazine Blog

Harry Thompson is running a blog from Sochi and he kicked things off with an update on the travels from Colorado to Russia. Check back often for exclusive updates and coverage

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Aug. 25, 2016 | Body-checking is a skill, not unlike skating, shooting and stickhandling, and it’s a critical skill to teach. Rhode Island Hockey recently gave it special emphasis with a free on-ice checking clinic open to all players in the 12U, 14U and 16U age classifications. Hosted at Schneider Arena with help from Providence College men’s hockey head coach Nate Leaman and Roger Grillo from USA Hockey, the two-hour clinic welcomed more than 100 players for station-based instruction in the fine art of giving and receiving a body check properly.

“Body contact is sometimes an under-taught skill, but there’s so much value in teaching it, both in terms of helping young players become more successful and also in terms of injury prevention,” said Grillo. “It was great to team up with the Rhode Island coaches and offer a learning opportunity that’ll pay dividends for these kids throughout their hockey careers.”

The event was so successful that Rhode Island Hockey will host a second session Sept. 8 at Boss Ice Arena on the University of Rhode Island campus in Kingston. Led by Kevin Sullivan, Rhode Island Hockey’s American Development Model director, the clinic will likely become an annual offering to enhance players’ skill and contact confidence, especially for 13-year-olds progressing into their first season of 14U hockey.

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“We all thought it was a great idea, and ultimately, it became a great collaboration with Rhode Island Hockey, USA Hockey and the local colleges – Providence, URI and Brown,” said Larence.

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