December 19, 2014

Elyria
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Women’s hockey: Elyria Catholic grad Brianne McLaughlin makes cut, earns spot in second Olympics

It’s shaping up to be a whirlwind summer for Brianne McLaughlin.

McLaughlin

McLaughlin

The former Elyria Catholic hockey standout whose family lives in Sheffield Village celebrated her 26th birthday Thursday and will be returning to Elyria to get married on July 13.

Oh, and Mclaughlin found out Monday she is one of three goaltenders to make the United States women’s hockey team, which will compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“There’s been a lot going on this summer, to say the least,” McLaughlin said by phone Monday night from Lake Placid, N.Y., where she just wrapped up a week’s worth of tryouts for the team. “It’s been a crazy few days down here.”

There will be one more roster cut in December to get the team down to the final 18 players. However, Monday’s cut was the final one for goalies, so McLaughlin looks like a go to make her second appearance at the Winter Olympics.

McLaughlin is one of three goaltenders who made the 25-person roster, joining Molly Schaus and Jessie Vetter. The same three were on the 2010 U.S. team which won the silver medal after losing 2-0 to Canada in the gold-medal game in Vancouver.

She and Kelli Stack (Brooklyn Heights) are the only two Ohioans on roster.

“I think I was more relieved than anything else,” McLaughlin said of her reaction to Monday’s announcement. “It’s been a long three-and-a-half years to get to this point.

“The last time around, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. I was just happy to be there. This year, I knew how fun it could be to compete in the Olympics for your country. I’m going to miss a lot of the ladies who were cut because, after training together, you make a lot of friendships. However, once we got together as a team after the announcement, I’m just really excited.”

After her wedding, which will take place at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Elyria, she’ll move to Boston to train with the rest of the team through December. The team will then depart for Sochi to try to bring home the gold medal.

McLaughlin, who still has plenty of family and friends in the area, knows a lot of people are excited for her.

“My family has obviously done a ton for me,” McLaughlin said. “My brother (Michael) and I were not easy on (our parents) when we were kids because we played about every sport we could think of. My parents (Briant and Sue) both worked full time, but they made sure we were always brought to all of our practices and supported us at all of our games.

“These last couple years competing with the national team, it’s been awesome to have them supporting me. They know how I am when I play my best hockey. They tell me, ‘Be yourself, be you, be confident, you’re good enough.’ They’re always a supportive reminder, especially when you’re at these kinds of things, so that’s been nice.”

Her only experience in the 2010 Olympics came during the U.S. opener, a 12-1 win over China. McLaughlin played eight minutes, making one save and allowing the only goal.

The Americans went 4-1 in the tournament, also defeating Russia (13-0), Finland (6-0) and Sweden (9-1) in the semifinals.

“My first step was getting through today and being on the team,” she said. “In the past, I’ve been the newest goalie. It’s still the same three of us as the last time, so my goal is to keep doing what I’m doing and, whenever I get the chance to get in there, to do the best I can do.

“I’ll be ready for my time to come and help this team, hopefully, take home some gold.”

McLaughlin said winning the silver was a tremendous accomplishment. However, because it wasn’t the team’s ultimate goal, the players were upset at the time.

“I’ve been there and felt what it felt like to win silver, and at that moment, it felt devastating,” she said. “There’s a lot of work and energy that goes into the whole process just getting to the Olympics, let alone playing and reaching the gold-medal game.

“Because I was a newcomer to the 2010 team and hadn’t been through it as long as my teammates had, I could see it was a lot more devastating for them than it was for me. We’ve worked hard these last couple of years to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

McLaughlin, who has served as an assistant women’s hockey coach for her alma mater, Robert Morris University, also was a member of the U.S. team the last three seasons.

Competing in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships, McLaughlin helped the Americans win the gold this year and in 2011 and take silver in ’12. She started three games (one in each tournament), going 2-1.

McLaughlin said her role with this team is undetermined as of yet.
“The last time was the first time I was on the team,” she said. “My rookie year, so to speak. Nothing was really expected out of me except to be the third goalie. I really got to live it up, and I got to experience everything without any worries.

“Now I’m one of the veterans. I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can, but there is a job to be done and I want to be ready whenever they ask me to step in, and give it my best.”

Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or dangilles73@gmail.com.