Ice Hockey: Canada's women are on a drive for five

Russia's ice hockey team received a big send-off on the eve of their departure for Pyeongchang 2018 when they played a warm-up match against Spartak Moscow

"He's such a great leader and he's won some Cups and gold medals ... what better way to get motivated than hearing words from a player like that".

NHL players will not compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, completely changing the dynamic of the men's hockey tournament in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The U.S. was among the final teams to get on the ice together as a group, save for many playing at the pre-Olympic Deutschland Cup in November.

Much of that has to do with head coach Robb Stauber and associate head coach Brett Strot, who took over the team in January 2017 ahead of the U.S.'s gold medal run at the World Championships.

With active National Hockey League players not participating for the first time since 1994, another unique group of Americans will try to win the ultimate prize.

With the US players threatening to boycott the 2017 World Championships in MI, the team and USA Hockey reached a landmark agreement March 28, three days before the opening of the tournament in which Team USA would go on to win, defeating archrival Canada in the final.

"His message was pretty simple", Canada's general manager Sean Burke said on Saturday. "The sport of hockey brings people together right away". And then they join the Olympic team and they kill penalties or they block shots and do what it takes. The opportunity to play in the Olympics was at one time unimaginable.

The other reason which seems quite obvious is that the best hockey players in the world, those on the men's side in any case, are not part of these Games.

Greenway - who plays forward for Boston University - enjoyed a nice warmup for PyeongChang when he helped the Terriers defeat Harvard in double overtime last week at Boston's TD Garden. "Honestly it's been a great experience so far", he said. "My opinion was just, 'Embrace it". He could be the first American to win both world junior and Olympic gold. "It's an opportunity of a lifetime".

Gilroy put O'Neill, a teammate with Jokerit in the Kontinental Hockey League, in charge of organizing the group chat on WhatsApp and called it "our first challenge as a team".

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Returning is forward Marie-Philip Poulin, who leads the team with eight goals and twelve points during Olympic games.

Tony Granato, the current head coach, did not have the same luxury.

The team was announced on January 1st, at the NHL Winter Classic at Citi Field.

James wrote of his experiences in his eye-opening 2015 autobiography, "Black Ice: The Val James Stories", detailing stories of the racism he faced on a near-daily basis - fans taunting him, even throwing bananas at him. "It does show us that we're part of something bigger than ourselves and what we went through in April was more than just for our team". There is little room for error, especially at the beginning.

Or any of the other members of Team USA.

"You can't be too patient because it's a quick tournament", Eruzione explained. But for numerous other players in the tournament, Scrivens' time in the KHL, Peters' experience in Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga and Poulin's games in Austria will be invaluable.

"It's more just because I think him and I have a similar game style", Greenway said, adding Joe Thornton to the list of role models.

Being on the Olympic team "means everything", says Wakefield. "We know we're diverse as a country, but our team was very diverse". Robbie McClanahan, John Harrington, Buzz Schneider and Davey Christian got involved.

"I think the rivalry between Canada and the USA has been there since the inception, and that every single time we've ever faced the has been a one-goal difference, it's gone into overtime, it's a back-and-forth hockey game, it's best-on-best competition, and I think that's what makes it so great", said Schuler, who played on the 1998 team that captured silver. "What was amusing was that Buzzy had some Russian heritage". As KHL forward Wojtek Wolski skated in on Scrivens, the goalie shouted, "I know your move".

This time around, it's a new group of diverse players heading to foreign soil.

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