Getzville's Hayley Scamurra was named to the U.S. women’s national hockey team seeking to defend its gold medal at the Winter Olympics next month in Beijing.
The 23-player team was announced Saturday night at the second intermission of the NHL's Winter Classic game in Minneapolis, where the players stood on mini-rinks next to the main ice for an introduction to the crowd at Target Field.
Scamurra, 26, is among eight first-timers on the team that includes four-time Olympian Hilary Knight and three-time Olympians Brianna Decker, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Amanda Kessel and defenseman Lee Stecklein.
Driven by a passion for hockey that traces back to her family’s backyard rink, Scamurra honed her skills competing on boys’ teams until she was 12 years old, played at the Nichols School and then in Canada, established herself as a top collegiate player at Northeastern University and proved with the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts from 2017-19 that she has all the talent needed to compete, and excel, against the best in the world.
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In 2018, she finally received a call from the national team. In December 2018, Scamurra attended USA Hockey's Women's Winter Training Camp in Plymouth, Mich., where she competed alongside some of the world's best for five days. An impressive showing earned Scamurra a spot on the national team for the 2019 world championships in Finland, where she helped her home country capture a fifth consecutive gold medal.
In October, Scamurra attended the USA Hockey residency program in preparation for Olympics almost four decades after her father, Peter, was cut from the U.S. team in his bid to play in the World Cup. Peter Scamurra, a Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Famer, is the first Buffalonian to play in the NHL.
Three other former Beauts will play for Team USA – goaltender Nicole Hensley and forward Dani Cameranesi, who were both on the U.S. team in 2018, and forward Megan Bozek, a member of the U.S. team in 2014.
They join other returnees in defenseman Cayla Barnes, forward Hannah Brandt, goalie Alex Cavallini, defenseman Megan Keller, forward Kelly Pannek and goalie Maddie Rooney, who has rejoined the team after being sidelined by an injury that kept her out of the world championships last summer. Alex Carpenter also is back from the 2014 team.
The other first-timers are forward Jesse Compher, defenseman Jincy Dunne, defenseman Savannah Harmon, defenseman Caroline Harvey, forward Abbey Murphy, forward Abby Roque and forward Grace Zumwinkle.
The team is coached by Joel Johnson, who replaced Bob Corkum in April. Johnson also recently took over as the women's coach at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, which made the jump to the NCAA Division I level this season.
The U.S. team beat Canada 3-2 in a shootout to win the 2018 gold, after the Canadians had won the previous four Olympic tournaments.
Canada beat the U.S. in the world championships 3-2 in overtime for the title. The Americans had won the previous five world championships. The U.S. went 2-2-2 in six exhibition games against the rival Canadians over the past two months.
"The players have consistently worked hard and battled through adversity in the last three months, and we’re confident in the talent and energy they bring to the ice as we look to take home gold in Beijing,” general manager Katie Million said in a statement distributed by USA Hockey.
Team USA opens the Beijing Games on Feb. 3 against Finland in group play.
The Associated Press and News Sports Writer Lance Lysowski contributed to this report.