New England women seek first hockey gold

February 12, 2010 - 4:33 am

When the first puck drops in Vancouver on Sunday, there will be a heavy East Coast presence on the ice.

Names such as Chris Drury, ex-captain for the Boston University Terriers, Jon Quick, former UMass goalie, and Brooks Orpik, who spent his teenage years playing for Thayer Academy in Braintree, will take their positions for the U.S. men'€™s team this month.

But it will be the women'€™s team that will be laden with New Englanders come this weekend, when the United States begins its quest for gold in Vancouver. Led by Meghan Duggan, a Danvers, Mass., native who led the Wisconsin Badgers to an NCAA championship as a junior, the U.S. women'€™s team will feature seven New Englanders, including four from the Bay State.

Here are the local players to watch:

Julie Chu '€” This two-time Olympian (2002, 2006) makes her return to the World Stage in 2010 in search of her first gold medal.

Chu, a Fairfield, Conn., native who played her collegiate years in record-setting form at Harvard University, was a member of the U.S. All-American team three times, and currently owns Harvard'€™s all-time assists lead with 196.

The forward was named one of Team USA'€™s top three players back in 2009 and won a bronze medal with the United States in 2006 and silver in 2002. But the NCAA'€™s career points leader would prefer to bring home a gold in 2010.

Caitlin Cahow '€“ Also a Harvard graduate, as a senior Cahow was named a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, an award given to the NCAA'€™s top women'€™s ice hockey performer each season.

Born and raised in New Haven, Conn., Cahow started her collegiate career as a forward but was shifted to defense in her rookie season with the Crimson.

The switch to D has worked out well for Cahow, who ranked third in the nation for defensive scoring in 2005 and was named top defenseman at the Canadian Women'€™s Hockey Championship.

Kacey Bellamy '€” Hailing from Westfield, Mass., the 22-year-old forward-turned-defenseman currently ranks third all-time on the University of New Hampshire'€™s defensive scoring list.

While at UNH, Bellamy also finished fourth in the NCAA among defenders with 28 points, gaining Hockey East First Team All-Star honors in the process.

Named one of Team USA'€™s top three players in 2009, Bellamy will be making her debut on the Olympic team. no stranger to the World Stage, a two-time member for the U.S. women'€™s national team.

Meghan Duggan '€” A current resident of Danvers, Mass., Duggan played her entire teen career in the Bay State before moving on to the University of Wisconsin. During her time at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass., Duggan was a four-year class president as well as participant in varsity level soccer, softball and lacrosse.

But at Wisconsin, Duggan made her focus ice hockey '€” and perfected the trade. As a sophomore, the now-22-year-old finished second on the team with 43 points in 38 games, helping the Badgers reach the NCAA title game. In 2009, she helped them win the title, being named to the All-WCHA third team following her junior season.

Erika Lawler '€” Hailing from Fitchburg, Mass., Lawler roomed with Duggan at Cushing Academy before she went on to the University of Wisconsin as well. Lawler won an NCAA title with the Badgers as a freshman, sophomore and then again as a senior. And during her time at Wisconsin, she scored 174 career points, which ranks third in school history.

With Lawler's three NCAA titles in four years, Team USA will surely look for Lawler'€™s championship poise to come through in their time in Vancouver.

Hilary Knight '€” The youngest of the group, the 20-year-old Hanover native is yet another Wisconsin grad sporting the red, white and blue this winter.

Knight finished first in the NCAA with 45 goals, 43 assists and 83 total points in her 2008-09 sophomore season. Her league-leading performance was crucial in the Badgers' pursuit of their third national championship in four years.

Molly Schaus '€” Schaus, who originally made her home in Natick, Mass., currently makes her home between the pipes.

The now-21-year-old immediately burst onto the college scene as one of the best goalies in the league, leading Boston College to its first-ever NCAA Frozen Four berth as a freshman, posting league bests in save percentage (.931) and GAA (1.90) in the process.

She continued her domination as a sophomore, when she broke the school record for saves with 920, and then as a junior when she finished second in the nation in both shutouts (10) and save percentage (.938).

But in 2010, Schaus will look to save something she never has before '€“ a gold medal for the U.S. national team.