A New Winter Brings A New Rivalry Series For The U.S. And Canada Women’s Hockey Teams

by Nicole Haase

Kendall Coyne Schofield ahead of the women's preliminary match against Team Finland at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 3, 2022 in Beijing.


The U.S. women’s hockey team is coming off a brutal and unprecedented stretch in which it played three major tournaments in 53 weeks — and won silver in each.
From late August 2021 to the first week in September 2022, the Americans played in two world championships and an Olympic Winter Games, falling to rivals Canada in the final of all three.
With much of the sports world now settling into a post-pandemic normal, the days of playing three global championships in such short succession appear to be in the rearview mirror. For women’s hockey, though, one key uncertainty remains.
The next world championship — the pinnacle of any non-Olympic season — will be held in 2023 in Canada, but specific dates have yet to be announced. Typically, the world championship is held in March or early April.
Without that date fixed on the calendar, teams are left to put together a schedule of games and camps without knowing when they’ll need to be at peak readiness.
For the U.S. and Canada, that means renewing their Rivalry Series, with five games set to take place in the coming weeks. Team USA took home the first win in a 4-3 shootout win on Nov. 15 in Kelowna, British Columbia. Canada will then host on Nov. 17 in Kamloops, British Columbia, starting at 10 p.m. ET.
From there the teams head south of the border to play Nov. 20 in Seattle, with that game starting at 7 p.m. ET. Following a short break, the Rivalry Series resumes Dec. 15 in Las Vegas before concluding Dec. 19 in Los Angeles. Both of those games start at 10 p.m. ET.
The American team for the first three games includes 16 players who were part of the most recent world championship team, plus 14 Olympians, with longtime standouts Kendall Coyne Schofield, Amanda Kessel and Hilary Knight among them.
Meanwhile, six players — Riley Brengman, Becca Gilmore, Kelsey King, Maureen Murphy, Gabby Rosenthal and Haley Winn — are set to make their national team debuts. Rosenthal and Brengman both come to Team USA having helped Ohio State win the NCAA title this past March.
“I grew in my confidence a lot and grew in my own personal game and trying to be the best player that I can be,” said Rosenthal, a forward from Blaine, Minnesota. “I think last year was great because I was surrounded by a bunch of players that pushed me every single day on and off the ice.”

(L-R) Savannah Harmon, Hannah Brandt, Megan Keller and Hilary Knight during the gold-medal game against Team Canada at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 17, 2022 in Beijing.


She’s finding a similar environment with the national team, and that has helped her settle in while trying to find her role within the group. Her teammates are driven and hardworking, she said, and they have put the work away from the team so that when they come together, they are in the best place.
“I think that’s something that really shows character and the fight and resiliency of this team,” Rosenthal said. 
These Rivalry Series games offer coach John Wroblewski an opportunity to see how players perform against the best competition in the world. The expectation is to win — always. But the team spends little time together on the ice over the course of a year, so when they do gather to practice before playing these games, it’s an opportunity for the coaching staff to reinforce the ideas and routines that will make the team successful once the puck drops. 
After the most recent world championship, the staff did an assessment of where the team was and where it needed to go. The expectation for this team is to win. Always. Anything else is a disappointment. To that end, the team mantra is constant development. The players and coaches expect the team to continue to build and expect instantaneous results.
According to Wroblewski, who also led the team at the world championship, the assessment broke down into three categories — staple items, adjustment items and cultural mandates. The staples are the calling cards of what makes USA Hockey. Cultural mandates are the things that are about how the team wants to play and carry themselves, he said. 
Both Wroblewski and his players have used the word “predictability” often over the past year when talking about how the team is performing on the ice. With their limited and sporadic time together, habits and predictability help the team gel together more quickly, he said. There is comfort and an ease of play afforded when a player knows where their backup is, where to drop a no-look pass for a linemate or the best place to crash the net to redirect a puck into the goal.
“There’s so much in hockey that is unscripted,” Wroblewski said. “You need the players to be able to not rely on systems or mandates all of the time. They have to go out and skate within their skill set and play passionately and try to be the difference maker. But also, there’s times in the game where you do need that default setting and that’s where the predictability comes in as a dynamic that you need to rely on. The quicker we can get on the same page with some of the default items, the more success and more fun to have.”
The results didn’t come the past year, but that doesn’t mean a need to revamp everything, said Rosenthal. Instead, this team is leaning on what was established as the basis of the program by the women that came before them. They want to home in on what they’re known for and play USA Hockey, she said.

Nicole Haase is a freelance writer for on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.