USA Hockey’s deal with top women help them play for career

By Larry Lage (AP Hockey Writer)

PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) — Kelly Pannek is on pace to graduate from the University of Minnesota in the spring with a finance degree. With two internships in wealth management also on her resume, she is a prime candidate to get hired in the business world.

The 2018 Olympic champion plans to put her off-ice-career on hold, thanks to a landmark deal involving USA Hockey last year.

”I plan on just playing hockey as long as I can because I can,” she said.

That used to be a challenging choice for the nation’s top female hockey players.

After threatening not to show up at the 2017 world championship at USA Hockey Arena, the top American female players in the sport agreed to a package of improvements, including one that helped their bottom line. Post-graduate hockey players can make about $70,000 a year and about $130,000 annually in Olympic years.

”The progress we made through that deal has changed a lot of our lives, and changed the future of our sport,” said Meghan Duggan, who captained the U.S. when it won gold over Canada at the Olympics earlier this year. ”Before that, all of us relied on other income from a second job, spousal and family support because we weren’t earning a living that supported us in an appropriate way. The deal also created awareness and cultural change.”

During USA Hockey’s training camp last week, where 44 of the top women in the sport gathered, the governing body had some of its top executives in attendance. Three-time Olympian Hilary Knight said that was new and suggested a dramatic difference in support.

USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher was in suburban Detroit not just to be seen. He said he heard what the women had to say and shared information about the USA Hockey’s mission.

”The communication is better than it has been,” Kelleher said before one of his meetings with the group. ”Relationship-wise, we need to have great teammates and be great teammates. We want to understand their side and what they’re looking for. We also want to give them more background on our organization, which has 650,000 participants and 1.2 million members. There’s a lot that goes with that.”

Before the 2017 agreement, many players had to juggle jobs and decide whether to stick with the sport or to give it up to pay the bills.

Knight used to squeeze in private lessons on the ice between her own training and competition to make ends meet after graduating from Wisconsin.

”Coming out of college and having that transition without a set template of what you should be doing and how to be a professional was challenging,” said Knight, now 29 and playing with the CWHL’s Les Canadiennes in Montreal.

Two-time Olympian Amanda Kessel, who is 27, said the increased training stipend allows her to live in New York City and not worry about balancing her career with a life as much as before.

”It was just stressful,” she said. ”You still loved playing hockey, but when you’re 25, 26 years old and you don’t have an income you’re think, ‘What am I doing?’ I had some help from family at times. I had side money from camps and just had to pinch pennies. Now, I have no problem getting a massage or going to physical therapy and paying out of pocket to take care of myself.”

The deal with USA Hockey also allows women to collect their training stipends while pregnant , a benefit enjoyed by the Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.

Pannek acknowledged she didn’t worry too much about the fight for better benefits previously because she was still in college on a scholarship. But just months away from graduating, she is grateful for the path paved by those before her.

”I saw how hard our veterans worked to set this up for all of us coming out of college,” she said. ”I couldn’t imagine how it used to be. Coming out of college this next year is really special because there are options. I can get an education and I know I can use it, but maybe not right now and put that into the future and play hockey for the next few years. I want to keep playing as long as I can and then use my degree.”

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    The Playoff Buzzer: Wild Card teams are 4-for-4

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    • The Washington Capitals blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads to drop Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Former Capitals player and frequent Game 7 star Justin Williams played a big role in Carolina’s 2OT winning goal.
    • With Carolina’s victory, all four Wild Card teams have advanced to Round 2.

    Hurricanes 4, Capitals 3 [2OT] (CAR wins 4-3)
    The Capitals got off to a terrific start. Andre Burakovsky and Tom Wilson scored in the first 6:23 minutes of the contest, but rather than fall apart, the Hurricanes dug in. It wasn’t until 2:56 of the third period when the Hurricanes caught up thanks to a Jordan Staal goal. Washington battled hard for the rest of the third period, but once overtime started the game was all Carolina until finally they broke through when Brock McGinn tipped in a Jason Williams shot. With that, the defending Stanley Cup champions are done and a franchise that last made the playoffs in 2009 is going to Round 2.

    Three Stars

    1. Brock McGinn, Carolina Hurricanes.
    He got the series-winning goal and registered an assist on Teuvo Teravainen‘s marker. This was the 25-year-old’s first playoff series and prior to it he had 36 goals in 240 career regular season games. Of those 36 goals, only two were game-winners.

    2. Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes.

    Assisted on three of the Hurricanes’ four goals. He also led both teams with 38:27 minutes of ice time in the 2OT contest. He finished the series with nine assists in seven games.

    3. Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals.

    Got the scoring started just 2:13 minutes into the contest off a superb steal. It was his first goal of the series.

    One goal Dougie Hamilton will be happy is forgotten

    It didn’t end up defining the game, but Alex Ovechkin outplayed Hamilton on this goal. If Washington won this game, this goal might have been a big part of the story.

    Factoids of the night

    Thursday’s Games

    Game 1: Blue Jackets at Bruins, 7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
    Game 1: Stars at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN

    Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

    No More Champs: Hurricanes oust Capitals in 2OT

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    Not even the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals were immune in one of the craziest opening rounds ever seen. Brock McGinn tipped a shot by Justin Williams in double overtime in a series-clinching 4-3 victory for the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7.

    Early on, it didn’t look like this would be a dramatic contest. Andre Burakovsky stripped the puck away in the Hurricanes’ zone and then beat goalie Petr Mrazek to put Washington on the board just 2:13 minutes into the game. Just four minutes later, Alex Ovechkin outplayed Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton before feeding the puck to Tom Wilson, who made the game 2-0.

    Carolina hung in there though. Sebastian Aho scored a shorthanded goal at 9:51 of the second period to cut the lead in half. Evgeny Kuznetsov regained the two-goal lead at 13:22 of the second period, but Teuvo Teravainen answered right back at 16:37.

    Early in the third period, Jordan Staal got a clean shot on Braden Holtby that he managed to get by him. It’s one that Holtby arguably should have gotten, but he didn’t have help on that play either and the end result was the game was tied.

    From there, Carolina was a dominant force in overtime and it looked more and more like it was just a matter of time before the Hurricanes beat Holtby one more time. It took a while, but it happened.

    Just like that, all four wild-card teams have advanced. Washington is out. Pittsburgh, which won the Cup in 2016 and 2017, is out. Vegas, which got to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, is out. Tampa Bay, which tied an NHL record with 62 wins in the regular season, is out.

    This year has reinforced the notion that anything can happen in the playoffs. Carolina will face the New York Islanders in Round 2 and while the Hurricanes might be the underdogs, that hasn’t been a bad spot to be in.

    MORE: Round 2 schedule, TV info

    Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

    NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019: Round 2 schedule, TV info

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    We’re down to eight.

    With the last Game 7 out of the way in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we can now look ahead to all that Round 2 will bring.

    The battle for the 2019 Stanley Cup continues as eight teams vie to become this year’s champion, and there won’t be a repeat after the Washington Capitals got bounced in Game 7 on Wednesday. All four wildcard teams are in. All four divisional winners are out. It’s been a wild ride and there are still three rounds to go.

    Here is the full Round 2 schedule with the all-important TV information: 

    MORE: 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Schedule, Bracket, Streams and More

    For the third consecutive postseason, NBC Sports’ coverage of Stanley Cup Playoff first-round games on NBCUniversal cable networks (NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC), as well as NHL Network, will air side-by-side and will be available for streaming on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app in local markets alongside regional sports network game telecasts. (Local blackouts apply in Las Vegas and Pittsburgh in the first round).


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    WATCH LIVE: Capitals, Hurricanes meet in Game 7

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    Game 7: Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals, 7:30 p.m. ET (Series tied 3-3)
    NBCSN
    Call: Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire
    Series preview

    Stream here

    Tonight’s pre-game coverage on NBCSN begins at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside analysts Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones.

    NBC Sports begins its exclusive coverage of the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs tomorrow with a Game 1 doubleheader on NBCSN. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins, followed by the Dallas Stars-St. Louis Blues series at 9:30 p.m. ET. Thursday’s doubleheader pre-game coverage begins on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET with NHL Live.