Marvin sparks Team USA
U.S. National women's hockey coach Mark Johnson called it a "confidence builder." Whatever it was for Gigi Marvin, it was one sweet return to her home area Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Marvin, from Warroad, Minn., factored into four goa...
U.S. National women's hockey coach Mark Johnson called it a "confidence builder."
Whatever it was for Gigi Marvin, it was one sweet return to her home area Friday night at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Marvin, from Warroad, Minn., factored into four goals in Team USA's 7-1 victory over Sweden in front of 1,730 fans. It was the first of two tuneup games for both teams in preparation for the World's Championships, which will run April 3-10 in Winnipeg and Selkirk, Man.
Marvin scored two goals and assisted on two others to lead her team to an impressive romp over the Swedes.
She walked around a defenseman and deked Sweden goalie Kim Martin to score her first goal shorthanded at 10:39 of the second period for a 3-0 USA lead. She then fueled a string of four unanswered goals by Team USA at 5:50 of the third period when she fielded a high shot off the back glass and flipped an easy shot into the open net.
"I know she was excited to be here, and it was a confidence builder for her to score some goals," Johnson said. "Hopefully it will continue as we go into the tournament."
Molly Engstrom joined Marvin with a two-goal game while Natalie Darwitz and Krissy Wendell, former University of Minnesota stars, had three assists apiece as USA overpowered Sweden with its skill and speed.
Marvin will get the chance to play in her hometown rink Sunday when Sweden and Team USA play a final exhibition at 1 p.m. at the Gardens in Warroad before both teams head for the tournament in Manitoba.
Marvin is working on a line with Tiffany Hogge and Kristin King. The chemistry of that line is still brewing.
"This was our 10th day of training, and it was good to get the first win under our belts," Marvin said. "Our lines are new to everyone. Obviously we haven't meshed together as well as we will, but there was a lot of give-and-go style of hockey which will benefit us in the long run."
Training in Grand Forks and playing Sunday in Warroad is special to Marvin. Her grandfather, Cal, was one of the founders who started UND's program in the late 1940s. A couple of her uncles and cousins played hockey for the Sioux as well.
"I felt like I was pretty much coming home here, even though I'm a Gopher (she plays collegiately for Minnesota)," Marvin said. "But growing up, my entire family pretty much lived and breathed Sioux."
Marvin said it's her goal for her line to be as effective as the powerful USA line of Darwitz, Wendell and Engstrom, all veterans of international play.
"Those guys have played together forever, and that's what we're working towards, so our line knows where each other is at all times and we can play together like they do," Marvin said.
Her first goal came with her team shorthanded when Darwitz found Marvin cruising into the slot. "I was kind of surprised," Marvin said. "Darwitz was chilling on her butt in the corner and she made a phenomenal pass out front. The goalie was down, so I just walked around her and tried to put it in. So it was a very fun first game for us to play in. I thought we did well."
Going back Sunday to Warroad, she said, might be even more emotional for her.
"I'm sure there will be a little nerves," she said. "Obviously you want to play well in front of your home crowd. Warroad is a great hockey community and they'll be out there supporting me, no matter how I play. It'll be quite a privilege to go back and play in front of my home town."
Johnson was generally pleased with his team's play, but frowned at the mention of the seven power-play chances Team USA gave Sweden.
"It was pretty good," Johnson said. "The one tough thing is that the girls really don't know one another. As the game progresses, they get a better feeling for each other. The first 6-7 minutes of the game, you could tell some our players were a little rusty. By the time we got to the third period, we started moving around pretty well."
The competition will get tougher once the World's Championship starts as Team USA seeks to defend its 2005 World's Championship title.
"It's a starting point," Johnson said of Friday's exhibition. "Now we move forward, and try to get better. I knew tonight wasn't going to be a perfect masterpiece."
But it was close to that for Marvin, who painted a pretty picture with her four-point game.