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U.S. captain Hilary Knight talks about new faces and the growth of women's hockey

U.S. captain Hilary Knight talks about new faces and the growth of women's hockey


For a rivalry to burn bright, both sides must have a chance to win.

The razor-thin margin between the U.S. and Canadian women's national hockey teams makes every game between the two teams so special.

And after Hilary Knight's hat trick fueled America's 2023 gold medal victory, the Canadians flipped the script last Sunday with a 6-5 victory in Utica, N.Y.

Even with a silver medal to add to her trophy case, Knight couldn't help but marvel at the quality and excitement of what just happened.

What a great match to be a part of, said the American captain, who on Sunday set her all-time record with her 65th goal of the world cup. Obviously you want to win more, but when you finally had that moment to think, it was so back and forth and a lot of fun.

After competing in every world championship since 2007, winning nine golds and five silvers, the 34-year-old also set a new record for the most all-time medals in the women's world on Sunday, edging Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser (seven times gold). and six silver).

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Knight views the tournament through the eyes of her veterans and is excited about the young blood permeating Team USA and other programs. In her first appearance with the U.S. senior national team, 20-year-old Laila Edwards took the tournament lead with six goals and was named most valuable player.

Just an incredible breakthrough performance, Knight said. It was amazing to see someone grow so big. And you know the gap, right? It's pretty important, and sometimes it takes years before you really feel comfortable on that stage. But sure enough, Laila's number gets called and she's just there ripping pucks and effortlessly finding the back of the net. That was huge for our team.

With one gold and three silver medals already on the Olympic podium, Knight can match Wickenheiser's five appearances in Italy in 2026. And after witnessing the progress that countries other than Canada and the U.S. have made with their competitions in Utica, she believes these Games will be a success. about more than just that legendary rivalry.

It was really cool to see Germany rise and take their pool by storm, she said. There are so many great things happening, and with the new league and developing players from all over the world, it's sure to be tough.

In the new PWHL, Knight serves as captain of Boston, a team that consists of two impressive forwards hailing from European countries. Switzerland's Alina Muller leads the team with 13 points, while Finland's Susanna Tapani, acquired in a trade in February, has a total of eight points this season.

“I think when you get the best players in the world playing in the same place, it will do wonders for the game and also help our development,” she said. We're stuck in our stylistic approach to hockey, so being able to learn from other players is just as important. And it really is a dream come true to be able to take the game to the next level in this way.

With the international break over, the PWHL schedule resumes on Thursday. Each of the six teams has five regular season games remaining before the top four advance to the playoffs in May.

And while the Knights Boston squad currently sits fifth in the standings with 22 points, the league's 3-2-1-0 points system means there are still potentially 15 points up for grabs and Ottawa is in the fourth place is only five points ahead.

We were hungry, Knight said. We understand the sports climate in Boston and the winning culture here, and we want to be a part of that. Obviously championships take time, but I think there are so many points up in the air right now that we want to get our foot in that door and put ourselves in a play-off position.

In the midst of her team's playoffs, Knight has also teamed up with Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers and William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights to help select the next six inductees into the Great Clips Hockey Hair Hall of Fame as part of their Show Your Flow campaign, which launched on Wednesday.

Hockey hair is an essential part of the sport, she said with a smile. I love it because it's a way to show individuality and your own flair and creativity, while still being part of a team. When this opportunity came up, I thought: Absolutely, let's go! This is so fun because it's a fun part of the game.

On the women's side, they were used to the players having long ponytails dangling under the back of their helmets.

You know, Kendall Coyne with her braid, right? It's kind of an iconic thing, Knight said. But when you take off your helmet, everyone has a different flow.

Another innovation this year in the PWHL was the decision to move the player name bars to the bottom of the jerseys, away from the ponytails and fully visible to fans.

The last time the Women's World Cup was held on American soil, in 2017, Knight was part of a group of American players who boycott prior to the tournament, successfully demanding better pay and support. It was a turning point and ultimately paved the way for the launch of the PWHL this year.

I always think we deserve more, right? she said. So I think that's what keeps us super hungry all the time, the kind of insatiable feeling that there is so much more to achieve and more to achieve for the sport. But without 2017, I don't think we have the strength to break barriers as we have done in recent years. That was our first taste of what a unified collective voice and group could do.

And while women's hockey may not be on par with the meteoric recent rise of women's basketball and its superstar, Caitlin Clark, each success story resonates across all women's sports.

It feels like we're hitting this thing at the absolute right time, following it closely and continuing to move the needle forward, Knight said. It's clear that it's a joint effort, whether we work directly together or not.

The WNBA's success could build on that with the PWHL and the NWSL and so on. It's just really cool to see the national and global coverage that Caitlin Clark and a handful of other draftees are getting. It's great that people are talking shop, talking about basketball, talking about female athletes.




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