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Team USA’s Women’s Worlds roster full of surprises, youth

women's worlds

The US team celebrates a goal from Hilary Knight during the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championships preliminary match between USA and Canada in Espoo, Finland, Saturday April 6, 2019. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva via AP)


Team USA’s final roster heading into the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship had a fair bit of eyebrow-raisers.

Some of it is less surprising; goaltender Nicole Hensley has played phenomenal hockey the past few weeks and asserted herself earning a role. Jincy Dunne missing the cut, though, is an omission sure to raise questions.

We’re still over a month away from games and learning more about which of this group has the real inside track for the 2022 Beijing Olympics, but we can already glean some takeaways from Tuesday’s announcement.

No Annie Pankowski again

For the second straight year, Annie Pankowski did not make the World team roster.

This time it may be less of a shock; Nicole Haase of USCHO reported Pankowski had arm surgery and isn’t at 100 percent. Perhaps that leaves room for her to recover in time for the Olympics and make the team.

Sydney Brodt is the new forward addition to the roster. She made the 2019 team, but not the one released a year ago.

Goalie duel

Maddie Rooney missed the cut this time around in favor of Hensley, who has played her way into strong favor with the national team. She outplayed Rooney in the PWHPA events thus far and had a strong camp.

Rooney and defender Emily Matheson -- who is pregnant -- are the only two active players left off the roster that was announced last season.

The PWHPA showings aren’t everything, but Hensley has a save percentage of .903 with three goals against, compared to Rooney’s six goals allowed and .891 save percentage. That, coupled with a solid performance at camp, counts for something.

Given how committed the program might be to Northeastern senior Aerin Frankel as well, a veteran presence like Hensley might be preferred.

Defensive surprises

Jincy Dunne seemed like all but a lock to make the roster, especially after her PWHPA showings, but the coaching staff ultimately selected high schooler Caroline Harvey. Harvey just turned 18 and is set to debut in Wisconsin in the fall. She has played in U18 Worlds the past two years.

No Skylar Fontaine also came as a surprise. The Northeastern defender had a stellar postseason leading the Huskies to their first ever national title game, and it seemed like she was on the fast track to making her first national roster. She’s been a point per game player on the blue line for her entire collegiate career.

Natalie Buchbinder, a Wisconsin defender coming off a national title, is also new to the roster on the blue line. She had a stellar showing in the Badgers championship win over Northeastern, after coming back from missing the start of the season with hip surgery.

The caveat here is this roster isn’t an automatic peek at what it’ll look like in Beijing. Dunne or Fontaine or Rooney could end up on that team, there’s still a lot of time between then and now with camps and more PWHPA events down the pipeline.


Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.