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Olympic hockey: Hanover's Knight focused on gold

By MARISA INGEMI
Special to the Union Leader

November 14. 2017 9:32PM
Team USA women's hockey player Hilary Knight is preparing with her teammates for another shot at an Olympic gold medal. Knight grew up in Hanover. (USA TODAY SPORTS)



Hilary Knight is on a mission.

The Team USA first-line winger has had time to reflect on the 2014 defeat to Canada in the Olympics, and, looking ahead to the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, has one goal in mind.

Gold.

“It’s a different team and coaching staff,” said Knight, who grew up in Hanover. “There’s a lot of changes. But I’m extremely honored to be a part of this team. There’s a great locker room, and I’m excited that the world can see us come February.”

Knight and her teammates have had the opportunity to see their biggest rival in the “Time Is Now” tour, which hit Boston in late October, the city where Knight plays professionally for the NWHL’s Boston Pride.

“I remember coming home from the Olympics (in 2014) and having the hometown support,” she said. “It was instrumental for my development and success. Whenever people can give you confidence off the ice, it translates to success on the ice.”

Knight played for the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, then joined the Pride in 2016-17 and won the league’s first scoring championship.

“I love Boston,” she said. I’m extremely fortunate to be a transplant out of college in Wisconsin. The camaraderie of the different sports teams is huge. It’s really cool to play here.”

The loss in Boston was a bad showing for USA, a 5-1 defeat, just days after a 5-2 win over the Canadians. The loss in front of a hometown crowd struck a nerve for Knight.

“We get to go home and figure out how to problem solve and come back stronger,” she said following the loss to Canada. “We get to go home and recharge with families, but at the same time, there’s a lot to be done and get balance.”

Preparing for the Olympics has been rooted in Knight for a while, and even played into her choice of where she played in the NWHL.

Knight was one of several players who made the jump from the CWHL to the then-higher-paying NWHL, the first opportunity to play professionally.

“One of the reasons a lot of us (USA players) moved together (to the same NWHL team in Boston) was to train together,” Knight said. “To compete together, and go through adversity together. We’re lucky to be able to do that and have a place to play post-college, so hopefully those opportunities continue.”

Knight has been regarded as one of the best offensive players in hockey, and has displayed that as an NWHL scoring champion in her first season.

Her team has used the Time is Now tour, along with the Four Nations Cup against Finland, Sweden, and Canada, to prepare.

The goal now is to bring home gold, which has eluded Knight and her teammates in their last two Olympic appearances.

As for now, Knight is appreciating the opportunities along the way.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Knight. “Being able to represent yourself on a world stage, there’s not a better way to describe it but a dream come true.”


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