Thomas: USA Hockey Makes More Questionable Decisions

Thomas: USA Hockey Makes More Questionable Decisions
February 28, 2020

Earlier this week, USA Hockey announced the roster that will represent the country at the 2020 Women’s World Championships in Nova Scotia. The group, under the eye of coach Bob Corkum, has a few interesting and questionable at best omissions.

Both Lamoureux twins will not represent their country next month in Canada in a shocking development. Both players have been key pieces to Team USA over the years and both were massive during the Olympic Gold Medal run two years ago in South Korea. That the United States left them off the roster says a lot about the direction of the program right now.

Another huge omission? Annie Pankowski. One could make the case that Pankowski was the best player for Team USA at last year’s tournament, which resulted in yet another gold for the country. Pankowski scored seven points in last year’s tournament, lighting the lamp four times and tacking on three assists. What is most impressive is that five of those points came at even strength. That is the most common game state and, quite frankly, the toughest to score in.

Kali Flanagan, the speedy defender who played at Boston College and was on the Gold Medal team two years ago, will not be heading to Nova Scotia. Flanagan played well during the recent ‘Rivalry Series’, not surrendering a goal against and really limiting Team Canada’s offensive looks while on the ice. Team USA went with a less mobile defensive unit, which resulted in Flanagan’s questionable at best omission.

That Team USA is going away from speed and playing a slower game should be concerning. This fear of speed and skill is not new to USA Hockey. It has plagued the men’s program for a long, long team. On that side, there is an infatuation with replicating the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’ team. That issue has not risen up on the women’s side until now.

Corkum seems to have a style in mind, and it isn’t speed and skill. Good players are going to get left off Team USA, that is going to happen when you have the best talent pool in the world to choose from. That this much speed and skill was left on the table, however, is alarming. This trend under the watch of Corkum and John Vanbiesbrouck is cause for concern.

For the most part, it won’t matter next month in Nova Scotia. The United States is that far ahead of just about every hockey country right now. When they play Finland and Canada, however? The extra bit of speed and skill sitting at home is likely going to be missed.