Boston Pops

U.S. Women’s Team Launches Olympic Journey Close To Home

BOSTON – Route 1 between Danvers and Boston is one of the most well-traveled roads in the Bay State. Tomorrow night traffic flowing southbound may be a little heavier than usual as family, friends and fans of Meghan Duggan make the 20-mile trek into the city to see their hometown hero take the first steps on her third Olympic odyssey.


The 30-year-old captain expects close to 100 well-wishers from her hometown to be in the stands at Boston University’s Agganis Arena when the U.S. Women’s National Team kicks off The Time Is Now Tour against Canada.


“Obviously being from here this game means a lot to me. I know it’ll be a great crowd and a great atmosphere,” said Duggan, who won a national championship in Boston in 2009 as a member of the University of Wisconsin’s women’s team.


Duggan isn’t the only member of the U.S squad with emotional ties to the area. Alex Carpenter grew up in nearby Cambridge and played her college hockey down the road at Boston College, where she won the 2015 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.


“It’s really special being surrounded by so many family and friends, and to be able to play in front of them tomorrow night is going to be something very special,” said Carpenter, who also plays for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League.


“Boston is a great sports city, especially when it comes to hockey, so it’s definitely going to be a good place to play.”


In total, 11 players on the U.S. roster have hockey ties to Beantown, either playing their collegiate careers here or skating with the NWHL’s Pride.


That makes the city the perfect launching pad on the long road to PyeongChang, South Korea, the host of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, which begin on Feb. 8. To get ready, the U.S. will play three exhibition games against Canada as part of The Time Is Now Tour, presented by Toyota, that also includes the Four Nations Cup tournament, with national teams from Sweden and Finland rounding out the field.


There are also three games slated for north of the border, with the first taking place on Sunday when the U.S. caught the Canadians on their heels on their way to a 5-2 victory.


“I was happy with the way our team performed and everyone contributed and really stuck to what they needed to do to allow our team to be successful,” Duggan said after Tuesday’s practice. “We came out and were ready to go. We brought a lot of energy and we just focused on us. We just stuck to our game plan.


“It’s October right now and there’s a lot of things that we can clean up and be even better tomorrow night here at BU.”


The U.S. squad is looking for the same fast start with a partisan crowd in their corner. The last time the U.S. played on home ice was in April at the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. Hilary Knight’s overtime goal gave the U.S. women their fourth straight IIHF Women’s World Championship title.


“A great home crowd is always a good thing for us,” said veteran defenseman Megan Bozek. “Like we saw in Michigan, the atmosphere was unbelievable. We came out for warmups and the place was already shaking. Just seeing a sea of red, white and blue and the flags and your family and friends and just the atmosphere gives you so much more adrenaline to really represent all those people.”

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