Women's Icers Face-Off With the Best At U.S. National Team Camp

Jan. 15, 2003

Six members of the Brown women's hockey team recently took part in the U.S. National Team Training Camp at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, NY from Dec. 26-Jan. 2. The camp served as a major step in the selection process for the 2003 U.S. Women's National Team which will compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship from April 3-9 in Beijing, China. Seniors Kim Insalaco and Courtney Johnson, sophomores Katie Guay, Amy McLaughlin, and Jessica Link and freshman Karen Thatcher all took part in the camp, which consisted of daily practices and four games.

Brown, the 2002 NCAA Women's Frozen Four runner-up and ECAC Champion, had the most number of selections than any other college on the camp roster, which consisted of 48 players. Included in that number were 11 Olympians such as Cammi Granato and Shelley Looney. "I expect that a program of our caliber is going to turn out these kind of players. I was very pleased that six players were chosen," says Brown head coach Digit Murphy. "I think it says a lot about the talent of kids that we bring into Brown."

All of the players agreed it was a different level of play at the camp, compared to the college game. "It was definitely the fastest and most skilled hockey I have ever played," says Thatcher, who was one of the youngest players at the camp. "It was a great opportunity to see how the players at the top level compete," says Thatcher.

"You could tell who had been there before and who hadn't," says Link, the Bears leading scorer. Although the Olympians did not give the collegiate players advice, they followed the Olympians lead. "The older players have all been there before and they know what they're doing. They know what is acceptable and what's not to coach (Ben) Smith so you just follow what they're doing," says McLaughlin.

"It was pretty laid back. Everyone joked around and just played hockey. When we got on the ice everyone was on the same page. The older players weren't trying to tell the younger ones what to do," says Link, who shared a room with Granato at the camp. Granato led team USA to two Olympic medals in 1998 and 2002. "Rooming with a 31 year-old was a little different but after the first day I got used to it. I taught her a few tricks. I think it really helped out her game a little," jokes Link.

Guay and Johnson also roomed with a two-time Olympian, Shelley Looney. "It was a great experience playing with and against some of the top players in the country and it was great meeting and interacting with some of the Olympians on a personal level especially after watching them on television last year," says Guay. Johnson enjoyed playing in front of a large crowd at the camp. "We had a lot of fans there so it made a good experience overall," says Johnson

While most of the group noted it was great getting to know players from other teams off the ice, Insalaco felt playing on the same line as her teammates, Link and McLaughlin, really helped her understand them better as players. "I got to learn a lot about their tendencies on the ice since I usually don't play on the same line as them," says Insalaco.

The Bears co-captain felt the camp was also a good break from the team. "I felt more refreshed when I came back," says Insalaco. She also roomed with an Olympian, Harvard's Angela Ruggiero along with Jamie Hagerman, also of Harvard. Despite the Crimson being one of the Bears biggest rivals, Insalaco enjoyed rooming with the two. "We got to share things about each others teams and learn how other teams go about doing things. You get that information you wouldn't otherwise have," says Insalaco.

Overall, all six felt the camp was a valuable experience. "I think maybe we're all skating faster after being there because the tempo was so fast-paced," says Link. Perhaps they are. Since returning from the camp, the six have accumulated 33 of the teams 52 points and 13 of the teams 20 goals in five games.

Link leads the team with 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points this season. She is the Bears top returning scorer from last year and has already accumulated 64 career points. Link has had at least one point in 12 of Brown's 17 games this season. She was recently named the ECAC Player of the Week after tallying seven points in three games.

Thatcher has jumped into second place on the team with 16 points, nine of them coming in the last five games. Her 11 assists and two short-handed goals are tops on the team. She is tied for fourth in the ECAC in freshman scoring.

Johnson has come on strong as of late, tallying a point in eight of the team's last ten games. She is second on the team behind Link with seven goals and tied for third with 13 points.

Insalaco currently ranks 14th on Brown's all-time scoring list with 37 goals and 68 assists for 105 points. She has one goal and nine assists for ten points this season.

McLaughlin has returned to the line-up this season after missing most of her freshman campaign with a back injury. She is tied for third with 13 points this season with four goals and nine assists. Her two goals and three assists in ECAC play ties her for fourth place in defenseman scoring in the conference.

Guay has four goals and one assist for five points. She scored the game-tying goal in the Bears 1-1 tie with 2002 National Champion Minnesota-Duluth on Nov. 17.

The Bears are currently 7-7-3 overall and 4-3-0 in ECAC play with 11 games, nine of them conference games, left to play in the regular season. The team will host the 2003 ECAC Final Four at Meehan Auditorium on Mar. 15-16.