skip navigation

Shake, Raty and Roll: U.S. Team Poised to Avenge Last Loss to Finland

By Harry Thompson - Editor, USA Hockey Magazine, 02/07/14, 6:45AM MST

Share

SOCHI, Russia - The last time the U.S. Women’s National Team faced off against Finland, Noora Raty was laughing to herself and had American players wondering what they had to do to score.

Raty’s 58-save performance powered Finland to a 3-1 victory at the 2013 Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., and sent ripples through the women’s hockey world, marking the first time the U.S. missed out on playing in the championship game in the 18-year history of the event. The U.S. did not participate in the 2001 tournament in Finland due to the 9/11 attacks.

A similar result here on Saturday in the opening game of the women’s Olympic hockey tournament would send seismic tremors through a sport that is desperate for parity at the international level.

“I just remember that I was extremely lucky, but I guess I earned my luck,” Raty said of her effort back in November.

“At one point I remember I was laughing ‘how am I making all these saves.’ It was one of those games where you get in a zone and nothing goes by you. I hope the same thing happens tomorrow because that’s going to be needed.”

One major difference, Raty said, is that this time Amanda Kessel will be in the lineup for the U.S. The two were teammates on the University of Minnesota squad that won back-to-back NCAA titles. They were also finalists, along with their Gopher teammate Megan Bozek, for the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award.

“She’s the best player in the world right now,” Raty said. “It’s a good thing for other teams that she hasn’t been able to play the whole year, she would be a rock star if she was able to play the whole year.

“We need to be aware that she’s on the ice or for sure she will find the back of the net. It’s going to be a lot of fun to go against her. We had some real good battles in practice the past couple of years and I think we made each other better players.”

While a groin injury sidelined her for all of the Bring on the World Tour, Kessel has declared herself as 100 percent and ready to go in her first Olympics. And she can think of no better way to kick things off than to face her friend and former teammate.

“I think it should be interesting to watch because I know her spots and she knows where I like to shoot as well,” Kessel said. “I guess I can give my teammates a few good tips.”

Getting to Raty early may be a key for the U.S. squad that still remembers the events in Lake Placid more than three months earlier.

“I don’t think there is any secret to beating her. If there is I haven’t found it yet. She’s a world-class goaltender,” said Megan Bozek, who led the U.S. attack with 11 shots on Raty the last time they met.

“She’s kept Finland in many games and was a big reason why they upset us at the Four Nations. Shots. Lots of shots early on, keep shooting and get people in front of the net.”

The victory in Lake Placid, which the Finns call their own “Miracle on Ice,” has provided the team with a shot of confidence heading into Sochi.

“We haven’t had much success against them in the past four years. I think the last time we beat them was before Vancouver so it was a confidence builder for our team and especially the younger players,” Raty said.

For their part, the Finns have spent hours watching the tape of the game and will look to exploit any weakness to gain an advantage.

“I remember that we killed a lot of penalties in that game so we can learn from what we did on the PK and what they’re going to try to do on their power play,” Raty said. “But we’ve played them quite a few times over the last few years so we know what to expect.”

As much as the victory was a shot in the arm for the Finns, it provided a kick in the pants for the Americans, who made some changes to their training regiment heading down the homestretch. Among those changes has been the implementation of small area games into every U.S. practice.

“Back in November I didn’t think we were a very good team so we went to condensing what we were doing, forcing them to make decisions faster, using better support, coming back to the puck,” said U.S. head coach Katey Stone.

And while they know that much of the focus will on the Finnish netminder, the Americans know that they need to worry about themselves and play their own style of attacking hockey if they want to be successful.

“She’s an incredible goalie, and she has a solid team in front of her, too,” said U.S. power forward Lyndsey Fry. “But we’re a different team now, and we’re going to throw everything at her. I think if we play our game we can put pucks behind her.

“We’ve just grown so much. The last time we played them was in November and here we are. Our goal is to get better every day and I think we’ve done that. We’re a better team than we were back then, and I’m sure she’s a better goalie so it’s going to be a great battle.”

Related News & Features

Popular This Week

Meet our Olympic officials

By USA Hockey 01/26/2018, 3:15pm MST

Seven U.S. officials selected for 2018 Olympic Winter Games

USA Hockey is proud to introduce the seven – yes, SEVEN – officials representing the United States at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, beginning Feb. 11 (women’s hockey) and Feb. 14 (men’s hockey).

This year USA Hockey had more officials selected than any other country.

So, without further ado, meet our 2018 Olympic officials:

 

DINA ALLEN

Hometown: North Tonawanda, New York

Length of officiating career: 11 seasons

 

Where did you get your start? As I take the time to reflect, the journey began when I started playing hockey at the age of 4. Learning the basic skills of the game grew into a greater love for the game, which led to ultimately pursuing college hockey. After I graduated university and returned to my hometown, it was at the rink I grew up skating, Hockey Outlet, where I first wore the stripes, officiating an 8U cross-ice game. All of my years playing and studying the game gave me the foundation to find success in officiating. 

 

When did you find out you were assigned to the Games? What was your reaction in that moment? I found out via a phone call from Matt Leaf on Tuesday, Nov. 28. I was extremely excited and truly grateful for the opportunity. I immediately called my husband to share the moment with him, as he has been very supportive during this journey (he’s also a hockey official who understands the significance). 

 

Did you ever imagine your officiating career taking you to places like this? No, I never imagined officiating could take me to the Olympics. I actually started officiating for extra money in law school. I quickly found, however, that it filled a void I knew I was going to have after college hockey was over. It afforded me the opportunity to stay involved with hockey at a high level.  

 

Favorite Olympic moment? The 1998 Olympic Winter Games will always be one of my favorites because it was the first year women’s hockey was an Olympic sport. 

 

USA Hockey is sending the most officials to the Games this year; what does the officiating program do so right that more and more Americans are being selected for these big-time events? The USA Hockey officiating program provides many opportunities to develop its officials on a national level, including seminars, camps and high-level competition with high-quality evaluators/instructors. The program also has a long history of going above and beyond to promote and develop its female officials. 

Any advice? Focus on the elements you can control, including rule knowledge, skating, fitness and communication. Work hard and dream big! 

 

KATIE GUAY

Hometown: Westfield, Massachusetts

Length of officiating career: 10 seasons

 

Where did you get your start? I played in a women's league following college and started my officiating career in that women's league. 

 

When did you find out you were assigned to the Games? What was your reaction in that moment? On Nov 28. We were told it would be around Dec. 1, so I was anxiously awaiting the email, and was ecstatic when it came a few days earlier than expected. I first received a voicemail from Matt Leaf and couldn't dial his number fast enough to hear the "good news" he had to share. This has been a dream since my first IIHF tournament back in 2011, so I was euphoric. 

 

Did you ever imagine your officiating career taking you to places like this? Officiating has taken me to numerous states and countries, and I certainly never imagined I would have the opportunity to travel around the globe and meet so many incredible people through the game I love. When I learned about the possibilities for officials, I was eager to become IIHF-certified and participate in a tournament overseas. Following my first IIHF World Championship in Caen, France, I was eager for another IIHF opportunity and set my ultimate goal on the Olympics.  

 

How is officiating on the Olympic stage different from other international competitions (or is it?) I can't wait to see! I've been to a handful of IIHF World Championships and am excited to experience the highest level of hockey on the world's biggest stage. 

 

Favorite Olympic moment? Watching the U.S. women win gold in '98. At that time, I was playing hockey on a boys team, so it was amazing to see women playing hockey on TV. 

 

USA Hockey is sending the most officials to the Games this year; what does the officiating program do so right that more and more Americans are being selected for these big-time events? USA Hockey has a solid development program for females and is providing the resources to allow us a variety of opportunities to learn and grow.

 

Any advice? Make the most out of every game and each opportunity.  It can be a long ride, but along the way you’ll meet incredible people, have amazing experiences. There will be some disappointments, but control what you can control, put in the hard work outside of the rink, and have fun.

 

 

JESS LECLERC

Hometown: Augusta, Maine (lives in Saco, Maine)

Officiating career length: 19 seasons

 

Where did you get your start? I started officiating in Augusta, doing youth games with my dad.

 

When did you find out you were assigned to the Games? What was your reaction in that moment? I got a call from Matt Leaf on Nov. 28. Absolute shock. It's hard to put into words the exact feelings of finding out.

 

Did you ever imagine your officiating career taking you to places like this? No. I've always wanted to officiate the highest level I could do. Each year has given me the chance to get closer to the going to the Olympics, but even now it seems surreal.

 

How is officiating on the Olympic stage different from other international competitions (or is it?) I'm not certain it's different except that everyone is familiar with the Olympics and this is the absolute top of the mountain when it comes to women's hockey. When it comes to international competitions, only those people associated with hockey understand what it is. The Olympics on the other hand represent the best in the world to everyone.

 

Favorite Olympic moment? The 1980 Miracle On Ice. I wasn't alive then, but having watched the movies and skated in Lake Placid many times, it sticks out as my favorite. It really epitomizes the emotions, dedication and excitement associated with the Olympics and why we play sports. The winner is never pre-determined and you just never know who will come out on top.

 

USA Hockey is sending the most officials to the Games this year; what does the officiating program do so right that more and more Americans are being selected for these big-time events? The USA Hockey Officiating Program has an incredible development program that gives officials, both men and women, opportunities to learn and develop. Women receive consistent opportunities to skate national and international tournaments and attend camps. As a whole, the officiating program is giving opportunities to a greater number of officials, and therefore, no one gets complacent. Everyone is continuously striving to get better so that they can continue to get opportunities at these big-time events.

 

Any advice? Own Your Future. I would give this advice to any official who is striving to continue moving up the officiating ladder, not just those looking to work the Olympics. In 2016, I was fortunate to attend USA Hockey’s ODP full-time camp in Plymouth, Mich., and this was the motto of the program for the year. It has really resonated with me. There are so many things you can't control in officiating, but at the same time, there are certainly things you can - your work ethic, your attitude, your willingness to learn, your dedication to fitness, just to name a few.

 

TIMOTHY MAYER

Hometown: Okemos, Michigan (lives in Grand Rapids, Mich.)

Length of officiating career: 19 years

 

Where did you get your start? I started officiating in Lansing, Mich., during high school, for money and extra ice time.

 

When did you find out you were assigned to the Games? What was your reaction in that moment? I found out about the Olympics when I received a phone call from Matt Leaf the last week of November. I felt just incredible feeling of accomplishment and so blessed with the opportunity to work the Olympics. It’s a dream come true 

 

Did you ever imagine your officiating career taking you to places like this? I never thought officiating would take me all over the world. I’m very lucky USA Hockey and the IIHF have afforded me amazing experiences and journeys.

 

How is officiating on the Olympic stage going to be different from other international competitions? The Olympics are definitely a larger stage, but it’s still the same job I have to do, and that’s work hard and give it my best.

 

Favorite Olympic moment? Watching the USA vs. Canada men’s gold-medal hockey games in 2002 and 2010. They were great, exciting, action-packed games that lived up to the billing.

 

Any advice? Stay involved with USA Hockey and take advantage of every opportunity you can along the way.

 

FRASER MCINTYRE

Hometown: Buffalo, New York

Length of officiating career: I started officiating when I was 12 years old.

 

Where did you get your start? I was cut from a local travel hockey team and was pretty disappointed at the time. My parents asked if I wanted to ref hockey to make some extra money. I was hooked and loved being on the ice.

 

When did you find out you were assigned to the Games? What was your reaction? I had taken a personal day off from work to catch up on some errands and spend time with my family. I was on my way back from a doctor’s appointment when I received a call form Matt Leaf advising that I was selected to work and that the IIHF would be sending out their press release the next day. My initial reaction was disbelief; I couldn’t believe I was actually selected. It didn’t sink in until I saw my name on the list in the press release on who was assigned.

 

Did you ever imagine your officiating career taking you to places like this? In all honesty, no. When I started reffing, it was a side job to make some extra money. Then it turned into wanting to officiate the best games around Buffalo. It then went to a career taking me around the U.S. working junior hockey and minor pro. While I was working junior hockey, I never thought it would be a possibility to officiate in other countries and make it to this point.

 

How is officiating on the Olympic stage different from other international competitions (or is it?) The Olympic stage is different and not different, at the same time. It’s the same in the fact that your routine, preparing to skate a game and being mentally and physically prepared, cannot change. You have to be ready to go. It differs because the Olympics are the biggest stage for ice hockey and the entire world is watching. The Olympics only come around every four years and the players are going to give it all they have.

 

Favorite Olympic moment? My favorite moment would be most recently watching the USA vs. Canada gold-medal men’s game in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

 

USA hockey is sending the most to the Games this year; what does the officiating program do so right that more and more Americans are being selected for these big-time events?  It all starts at the bottom. USA Hockey has a great system for its officials beginning at the grassroots level. They have developed a way that officials at any level are able to learn. Yearly modules and classroom seminars, district seminars, Futures Camp, High Performance Camp and Program of Merit are avenues officials can take to further their education and learning. Through this, USA Hockey has established a constant flow of officials who have taken advantage of these opportunities which has equipped them for potential assignments such as this.

 

Any advice? The road to advance your career can be long, challenging, and difficult, but keep your head down and keep controlling what you can control. As an official, we can control our appearance, physical fitness, rule knowledge and attitude. These things will assist in helping your career at any level.

 

JUDSON RITTER

Hometown: Belvidere, New Jersey

Length of officiating career: 17 years

 

Where did you get your start? USA Hockey Level 1 seminar in Bethlehem, Pa., back in 2000. I started my international career sometime around 2011, when I got my international license. 

 

When did you find out you were assigned to the Games? What was your reaction in that moment? I was at work when Matt Leaf called. When I saw it was him calling, I was hoping it wasn't to give me bad news. When he started with “Congratulations,” there was a moment of pure joy, followed by ‘Wow, I can't believe it's actually happening.’

 

Did you ever imagine your officiating career taking you to places like this? Officiating has taken me beyond anywhere I ever could have imagined. It truly is incredible to have the opportunity to see the world thanks to hockey.

 

How is officiating on the Olympic stage different from other international competitions? Pretty sure the magnifier is going to be a bit larger for this one. It always amazes me to see the passion people have for their home countries. 

 

Favorite Olympic moment? My most memorable Olympic moment was from 1996 when Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch in Atlanta. I was 13 at the time and had been part of the Olympic torch relay when it came through my home state of New Jersey. Hockey-related memory would be watching overtime of the 2010 men's ice hockey gold-medal game.

 

USA Hockey is sending the most officials to the Games this year; what does the officiating program do so right that more and more Americans are being selected for these big-time events? USA Hockey does a fantastic job of giving its officials a solid foundation in which to grow their officiating careers. What you are seeing is not overnight success but many, many years of dedication to learning the craft of officiating and earning the stripes.

 

Any advice? Put in the hard work and time it takes to climb the officiating ladder. Enjoy every moment and opportunity officiating provides you because, even without the Olympics, hockey has taken me to places I never could have imagined.

 

 

MELISSA SZKOLA

Hometown: Port Huron, Michigan (lives in St. Clair Shores, Mich.)

Length of officiating career: 13 years

 

Where did you get your start? My husband (boyfriend at the time) had his USA Hockey seminar to go to and invited me along. He thought since I knew how to skate it might be something fun to do together.

 

When did you find out you were assigned to the Games? What was your reaction in that moment? I found out Nov. 28. I was at work, alone with my puppy, and started crying. I was so relieved and excited.

 

Did you ever imagine your officiating career taking you to places like this? The second game I ever officiated was with a great official and friend of mine, Krissy Langley. She told me what was possible and has been an inspiration and role model to me ever since.

 

Favorite Olympic moment? Watching Michelle Kwan at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

 

USA Hockey is sending the most officials to the Games this year; what does the officiating program do so right that more and more Americans are being selected for these big-time events? USA Hockey is very supportive of its officials. They have developed wonderful programs to help us thrive. There is no limit to what we can achieve with the support we are given. As long as you take advantage of the opportunities and work hard, the sky's the limit.

 

Any advice? Use the resources around you. Never be afraid to ask for help and always work hard. Own your future, set goals and work toward them everyday.

Landry Takes a Scientific Approach to Developing Goalies

By Stephen Kerr 01/29/2018, 7:30am MST

Some USA Hockey goalies have the privilege of being coached by a Nobel Prize winner

Jim Johannson Passes Away

By USA Hockey 01/27/2018, 7:50pm MST

2018 U.S. Men's Olympic Team GM was 53

75 Comments