Ex-Robert Morris goalie set for Olympics
Brianne McLaughlin still has the Wheaties box from 1998 featuring the U.S. women's hockey team that won gold at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Now, she's teammates with two of the girls featured on that box.
McLaughlin, an Ohio native and a former four-year starter at Robert Morris University, is one of three goaltenders who will represent the United States in women's hockey at the Vancouver Olympics beginning on Feb. 12. The U.S. opens play against China on Feb. 14.
"I think every kid wants to be in the Olympics, but I didn't know much about it," said McLaughlin, 22. "I didn't really know the process of getting there. I just loved to play hockey."
McLaughlin's road to Vancouver was not without its kinks. She was invited to a player-development camp early in her high school career. The next year, she went to a goalies camp. After that, she didn't get another invitation until the summer before her senior year at RMU, when she was brought in to try out for the Under-22 National Team. She made it, went to Canada to play in a tournament and then said she didn't really hear from them again until last summer.
"I was getting ready to start my nursing career and thinking about hanging it up," she said. "Then I got a call in June or July saying they were having tryouts for the national team, and I was part of the mix. I got picked for a tryout with five goalies, and they picked three. Luckily, I was one of them."
RMU coach Nate Handrahan said that having a Colonials alum on the national team can only help the school's still-young program.
"It speaks to our development plan with our players," Handrahan said. "To have a player come in who really wasn't on the national radar, develop her and get her to the point where she's in that picture is a feather in our cap as a program and will certainly help us for years to come."
Current Colonials goaltender Daneca Butterfield is one of McLaughlin's closest friends and plans on getting together with her team to watch Olympic hockey. She just can't promise that the Canadians on the team - herself included - will root for the U.S.
"We're on (McLaughlin's) side, but I think you'll see us stick to our roots," Butterfield said, smiling.
Beating Canada will be the greatest challenge facing the U.S. women. On the Qwest Tour, which serves as a four-and-a-half-month warm-up to the Games, the U.S. has played Canada three times and lost every game. To win gold, they'll have to beat them on their home turf.
"We haven't been so hot against Canada so far," said McLaughlin, who as a rookie and third-stringer doesn't know how much ice time she'll see. "The last couple games have been tough."
McLaughlin, who's been training with Team USA at the National Sports Center's Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minn., since early September, was back in Pittsburgh this weekend and dropped the puck at her former team's home game against Sacred Heart.
"I think right now we're all just excited," she said of the upcoming Olympics. "Some of the older girls have told us what it's all about, all the different things there, how cool the Olympic Village is. Then once we get there, we'll get nervous."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.