If you want a glimpse at what the future looks like for the U.S. Women’s National Team, the Under-18 team is a good place to start.
Winners of three straight gold medals, the 2018 squad looked to capture top honors for a fourth consecutive year at the International Ice Hockey Federation U-18 Women’s World Championship in Dmitrov, Russia, which took concluded after press time on Jan. 13. Team USA has played in the gold-medal game in all 10 of the previous IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championships, capturing the event’s top prize six times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017).
And while the stars have been shining for Team America, even more promising is the amount of Minnesotans that are wearing the red, white and blue. This year’s team boasted 10 Minnesota natives. Taylor Heise (Lake City), Lizi Norton (Orono) and Gracie Ostertag (Shakopee) were on the gold-medal winning teams in 2016 and 2017. The trio is committed to play together at the University of Minnesota, and have played against all throughout their youth.
“I’ve known both of them since we were 8 or 9 years old,” Wethington told USA Hockey. “We’re super competitive against each other and with each other. We all want to be the best we can be, but we support each other. This whole process is bigger than ourselves.”
Heise added that it doesn’t get any better than playing with friends and representing your country—especially when there’s a winning outcome.
“It’s such a great opportunity to experience so many things at such a young age,” Heise told USA Hockey. “I’m able to experience this with two other people—Gracie and Maddie—that I’ve been around with forever, and that’s super special
No. 9 Abby Murphy, Evergreen Park, Ill., Chicago Mission
No. 11 Dominique Petrie, Beverly Hills, Calif., San Diego Junior Gulls
No. 12 Makenna Webster, St. Louis, Mo., Shattuck St. Mary’s
No. 14 Britta Curl, Bismarck, N.D., Bismarck Blizzard High School
No. 15 Katelyn Knoll, Amherst, N.Y., Nichols School
No. 16 Casey O’Brien, Milton, Mass., Shattuck St. Mary’s
No. 18 Kelly Browne, Burlington, Mass., Boston Junior Eagles
No. 19 Anne Bloomer, Chicago, Ill., Chicago Young Americans
No. 20 Sydney Shearen, Hugo, Minn., White Bear Lake High School
No. 22 Maggie Flaherty, Lakeville, Minn., Lakeville North High School
No. 23 Taylor Heise, Lake City, Minn., Red Wing High School
No. 24 Hannah Bilka, Coppell, Texas, Shattuck St. Mary’s
No. 2 Gracie Ostertag, Shakopee, Minn., Shattuck St. Mary’s
No. 3 Maggie Nicholson, Minnetonka, Minn., Minnetonka High School
No. 4 Madeline Wethington, Edina, Minn., The Blake School
No. 5 Madison Bizal, Elk River, Minn., Elk River High School
No. 6 Lizi Norton, Orono, Minn., Orono High School
No. 7 Hadley Hartmetz, Phoenixville, Penn., Shattuck St. Mary’s
No. 8 Ally Simpson, Frisco, Texas, Shattuck St. Mary’s
No. 10 Lily Farden, Hingham, Mass., East Coast Wizards
No. 1 Calla Frank, Hugo, Minn., White Bear Lake High School
No. 29 Makayla Pahl, Rochester, Minn., Rochester Mayo High School
No. 30 Lindsay Reed, New Vernon, N.J., The Hotchkiss School
Just prior to the tournament, head coach Joel Johnson selected Red Wing’s Taylor Heise captain of the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team. Shakopee’s Gracie Ostertag and Edina’s Madeline Wethington were named alternates, along with California native Dominique Petrie.
“Taylor is a real positive and encouraging teammate that has great passion for representing the U.S. on the international stage," Johnson said. “All four of these players bring great experience as a leadership group and have a positive influence on this team both on and off the ice.”
This is the fourth consecutive year Joel Johnson was selected to coach the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team. The White Bear Lake native is currently in his 13th season as an assistant coach for the University of Minnesota, where the women’s program collected six NCAA national titles with him on the bench.
"It's always an honor to serve as the head coach of the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team and I look forward to another successful season," said Johnson. "I love working with our young players and aspire to help them achieve their goals while representing USA Hockey."