Thursday, 2 January 2014

Megan Bozek looks to maintain her championship ways to US Olympic roster

For every women’s hockey player, there is no greater thrill than to don the jersey of your home country. The moment is truly enhanced when one can do so on the world’s biggest stage. Megan Bozek, the best defender to ever come from the state of Illinois (her hometown is Buffalo Grove), is looking to maintain her winning ways at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Having played for the undefeated Minnesota Golden Gophers squad in 2012-13, it is an accomplishment in sport as prestigious as the 1972 Miami Dolphins or the 1996 Chicago Bulls who won as astounding 72 games. Quite possibly the greatest women’s hockey team assembled in US women’s collegiate hockey history, Bozek’s tenure on the team has immortalized her as a true legend. Of note, other members from the undefeated Minnesota squad joining Bozek in the quest for gold include 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award winner Amanda Kessel and Lee Stecklein, who towers in at 6’ tall, one of the tallest on the squad.

While she goes about her time on the ice in business-like fashion, her presence always gives her teams a chance to win. Following her graduation from Minnesota, she had the opportunity to make more history at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Ottawa, Canada. As the Canadian contingent had never lost an IIHF Women’s Worlds gold medal game on home soil, it came as a stunning moment to the fans in attendance when Bozek and her US teammates pulled off the upset.

Bozek is now looking for a unique triple crown by capturing gold in Sochi, which would complement her 2013 Frozen Four crown and the 2013 IIHF World title. As the United States has not claimed the gold since Nagano 1998, it is a drought that has not only taken a life of its own, but adds to the pressure of winning.

Considering that Bozek has overcome the odds twice in the last year – from going undefeated to beating Canada on their home ice - there is no question that her presence may be a key factor in a gold medal finish. At the 2013 Four Nations Cup, she contributed an impressive six points. Her senior season at Minnesota resulted in a 57-point output which made her the all-time scoring leader among Golden Gophers defenders. Always capable of providing solid numbers, her well-rounded game evokes memories of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. 

Although she may be an Olympic rookie, there is no denying her experience with USA Hockey. Among a rare group of women who have competed for the US Under-18, Under-22 and Senior teams, she has experienced success at every level. The opportunity to be part of the first US women’s hockey gold medal team in this century would be the pinnacle in an otherwise storied career. 

Image obtained from Facebook

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