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posted: 2/4/2014 5:30 AM

USA Women's Hockey built around a strong bond

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  • United States goalie Jessie Vetter, left, makes a save in front of teammate Megan Bozek (9) and Canada's Jayna Hefford in a Four Nations Cup women's hockey game last November. The U.S. team, with Buffalo Grove native Bozek, opens its Olympic play on Saturday.

      United States goalie Jessie Vetter, left, makes a save in front of teammate Megan Bozek (9) and Canada's Jayna Hefford in a Four Nations Cup women's hockey game last November. The U.S. team, with Buffalo Grove native Bozek, opens its Olympic play on Saturday.
    Associated Press/2013 file

  • Video: McCudden training video

 
 

Kenny McCudden is scheduled to get to Russia in time to see the U.S. Olympic hockey team's opener against Finland on Feb. 8.

McCudden, the team's skating and skills coach, likes what he sees from the red, white and blue.

"Starting with the goaltending, three quality goalies," McCudden said, referring to Jessie Vetter, Brianne McLaughlin and Molly Schaus. "Phenomenal goaltending. I like that our 'D' can shoot the puck. I like that the 'D' can join the play in numbers.

"But most important out of this team, if you really wrap it up, is their speed. The team is built on speed. When all cylinders are hitting, it's really fun to watch because their transitional game is so quick, from the back end out. That would be the No. 1 thing I like about this team. They make two passes out of the zone, and before you know it, it's already over the opposing blue line. I think that's a wonderful combination to have: goaltending, speed and good, solid defensive play."

The U.S. women won silver at the 2010 Games at Vancouver. They also won the silver in 2002. Gold came in 1998, and it was bronze in 2006.

Chicago-area viewers will have special interest in defenseman Megan Bozek of Buffalo Grove and forward Kendall Coyne of Palos Heights. Both have been featured on local TV.

"You saw the highlights of Kendall, her speed -- incredible," McCudden said. "You saw Megan Bozek shooting the puck. She's shooting the puck 80 miles per hour.

"The team is made up of Kendall Coynes and Megan Bozeks. They just happened to be two of our own (from the Chicago area). The ladies are phenomenal people off the ice, also. Just terrific for hospital visits, girls clinics, anything they're asked to do, they do in numbers. They do it as a team. Their slogan since I've been there has been 'team first.' That is the slogan. And that's exactly what they're about.

As proud as he is of the red, white and blue, McCudden would love to share in another color: gold.

"If we ever won the gold, I'd have to get a hold of Kendall Coyne's to show everybody," he said. "I tell people that we should have a great chance of medaling. I just hope it's the right color."

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