Ruggiero, Potter named in 4th U.S. team
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Angela Ruggiero and Jenny Potter are headed to their fourth Olympics after being selected to the U.S. women's hockey team Thursday.
Ruggiero and Potter were among 21 players chosen by coach Mark Johnson for the final Olympic roster. USA Hockey made the announcement at the Mall of America before about 500 hockey fans amid red, white and silver streamers.
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"Playing for your country is always going to be a special moment," said the 30-year-old Potter, the oldest player on the U.S. team. "Obviously, things are familiar, but the feelings never change. That's really unique and very special to my heart, playing for this country and playing another Olympic team and going for a gold medal."
Ruggiero, the defenseman and former contestant on "The Apprentice," will turn 30 next month. She played a game in the Central League in 2005 and leads a U.S. roster of 12 forwards, six defensemen and three goalies.
Forwards Natalie Darwitz, who grew up 10 minutes from the Mall of America, and Julie Chu were named to their third Olympic teams, while Caitlin Cahow and Molly Engstrom will become two-time Olympians. The roster includes 19 players who won the world championship last year.
"It's definitely a dream, especially as a female athlete," said goalie Jessie Vetter, a first-time Olympian who was selected the top player in NCAA hockey last year while playing for Johnson at Wisconsin. "This is what we play for. We play to represent our country. We've got no professional leagues, nothing like that. This is definitely something we look forward to."
There were no surprises in Thursday's announcement, as Johnson had to trim just two players from a roster that has been together since the summer in preparation for Vancouver. Forward Angie Keseley and defenseman Rachael Drazan didn't make the club.
Hilary Knight, a 20-year-old forward from New Hampshire, is the youngest player on the team, nine days younger than twins Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux. The American team won't include a teenager for the first time in its Olympic history.
"For all of us, this is a dream that started years ago," Darwitz said. "It's another dream to win a gold medal, and that's our next step. We have an amazing group of women. Hopefully we will bring home the gold for you."
The U.S. team and Canada again are the world powers heading to Vancouver, but the Canadians beat the Americans twice in the past week during a pre-Olympic tour. Canada has won gold in two of the first three Olympics featuring the still-growing sport.
The Americans and Canada will meet again after the holiday break on Dec. 30 in St. Paul and on Jan. 1 in Ottawa.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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