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USA Women’s U18 National Festival Roster Analysis

Having completed their two national summer camps, USA Hockey has trimmed down the roster for their women’s national U18 team to 31 players—18 forwards, 10 defensemen, and three goalies.

These players will compete at a camp in Lake Placid, New York August 8-14. At the completion of the camp, a final U18 team roster will be announced for a three-game series against Canada. That U18 team will likely make up a majority of the team that competes in the 2018 World U18 championships in Russia next January as well.

Here is the roster of players that will compete.

All 31 players to make the camp roster competed at the Select 66 Camp this summer, with no one from the St. Cloud national U18 camp making the roster.

The roster definitely trends a little older as well. The breakdown by age is: ‘00s: 19, ‘01s: 9, ‘02s: 3. I think that will continue to the final roster as well. The ‘00 birth year seems a little strong overall than the ‘01 birth year.

I do think all three of the ‘02s will end up making the final roster. Makenna Webster and Abbey Murphy are elite talents. Maggie Nicholson is still quite raw, but has a really high ceiling, and the experience will likely aid her development.

The breakdown of players by state is: 12: Minnesota, 4: Massachusetts, 2: Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, 1: California, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin.

Taking a guess at the final roster, the defense seems relatively easy, with four players returning, including Gracie Ostertag and Madeline Wethington, who have played on the team the past two years, and should really carry this team in big moments.

Ally Simpson and Lizi Norton both made the team last year, and while they weren’t 100% locks to go back again this year, both reportedly played well enough at Select 66 camp that it would be a surprise if they weren’t back again.

That leaves just three spots open on the blue line. Nicholson and ‘01 Hadley Hartmetz are the only underagers available and I would expect both to get a look this year, if only so the US isn’t starting from scratch for next year’s tournament. That would leave one spot available between Madison Bizal, Maggie Flaherty, Lauren DeBlois, and Lily Farden.

As for notable omissions, like I said, I was a little surprised they didn’t go younger and take ‘01s Addi Scribner and Mallory Uihlein. But overall, it’s tough to go wrong when either Ostertag or Wethington will be on the ice for every critical moment. This should be a real strength for the US team.

The forwards are a much more wide open group. Leading the way is Taylor Heise, who will be on the team for a third straight year and should be the team’s top scoring threat. The only other returning forward is ‘01 Dominique Petrie, who wasn’t a huge contributor last year, but with another year of development, should make more impact this year after leading the Select 66 Camp in scoring.

Also unlike the defense, I expect this group will be much younger. Aside from the two ‘02s probably making the team, ‘01s Hannah Bilka and Sydney Shearen were both very productive at the Select 66 Camp and probably went from on the bubble to being solid bets to make the team. ‘01s Elle Hartje and Mannon McMahon are both really athletic players that have a decent shot at making the team.

Among the ‘00 forwards, Abby Boreen was the most surprising omission from last year’s team, and will almost definitely be on the team this year. Haylee Blinkhorn and Kelly Browne both had effective Select 66 Camps. Blinkhorn’s speed could make her effective in a lower line role on the final team. Sam Burke is one of the only forwards that really fits a power forward role, which may give her a place on the team too.

Overall, there are still a lot of spots up for grabs, and I expect final decisions will likely come down to the final week in camp. It’s not as strong of a group as the defense is, but is a decent group, and the youth available is good news for the future.

As for omissions, the biggest surprise to me was Kenzie Hauswirth, who I thought was one of the best forwards in Minnesota during their tryout process. Lolita Fidler, Sara McClanahan, and Lily Delianedis are all skilled forwards that could have made this roster, and are probably still on the radar for January.

In goal, Lindsay Reed served as the back-up on last year’s team, and looks poised to be this year’s starter. The other two goalies, Calla Frank and Gwyneth Phillips are both ‘00s, so the US will be starting over from scratch next year in goal.