BK Selects Alumni Help Push USA to Women’s World Championship Gold

by Matt Gajtka

BRAMPTON, Ontario — With three BK Selects alumni on board, the United States women’s national team won its first World Championship gold in four years, rallying past fellow superpower Canada, 6-3, on Sunday night.

Former BK Selects standout defender Caroline ‘K.K.’ Harvey led the tournament with 14 points (four goals, 10 assists), highlighted by the tying goal early in the third period and the primary assist on USA captain Hilary Knight’s insurance marker in the final minutes of regulation.

The 20-year-old Harvey played for BK Selects from 2016 through 2020 before moving on to the University of Wisconsin, where she just put up 39 points in 41 games and won the NCAA national championship in her first season on campus.

“Winning gold honestly ranks pretty closely with winning the NCAA title this year,” Harvey said. “Both were unbelievable, but different experiences, and both so sweet to be able to achieve. I definitely want to be doing both again.”

Joining Harvey on the victorious team USA was fellow defender Haley Winn (BK Selects from 2017-21) and assistant coach Brent Hill, who headed up the BK Selects 19U team from 2017-21.

“The first thing (about it) is just feeling fortunate and grateful to be a part of hockey at that level,” said Hill, who has also coached at USA Hockey national team camps and was an assistant for the Rivalry Series games against Canada earlier this season.

“Winning on that stage really puts it in perspective. From there, knowing we had the best possible roster and game plan in place to be successful, and knowing all the hard work leading up to the event and during the event paid off.”

Haley Winn, Brent Hill and Caroline Harvey pose with their Women’s Worlds medals. (SUBMITTED)

Winn, a Rochester native, recorded five assists in her first seven World Championship games. She just completed her sophomore season at Clarkson University, where she scored 23 points in 38 games and sported a plus-20 rating.

“It’s just been such a cool experience,” said Winn, who played in the Rivalry Series last fall as her first senior-level international competition.

“Getting to play against the best female players in the world is something I still struggle to wrap my head around. It’s also such a privilege to be able to learn from these players, not only on the ice, but off the ice as well. How they carry themselves and are so professional about what they do. The women’s game has also grown so much and that has been awesome to see.”

The 19-year-old Winn had been in the player pool for a couple of years, then impressed head coach John Wroblewski and staff enough at World Championship tryouts to be the second-youngest player named to the United States roster — for reference, that’s 14 years younger than team captain and hockey legend Knight.

“I just trusted my training and the work I have put in for so many years,” Winn said. “I knew my time would come and I just had to trust that and trust my faith. At tryout I just played my game and tried remaining confident throughout. … It was really nice to have a few familiar faces on the team.”

As for Harvey, her performance was spectacular, but it wasn’t exactly a surprise.

On top of her Olympic experience last winter, this was the New Hampshire native’s third consecutive Women’s Worlds. Harvey chipped in eight points (three goals, five assists) in last fall’s silver-medal effort in Denmark, a performance she said fed nicely into the start of her first NCAA season.

“I felt more comfortable this time around for sure,” Harvey said. “I felt like I belonged and fit in with the girls, which definitely contributed to me feeling more relaxed on the ice and playing the game I wanted to play.

“Coming off of last year’s Worlds right into the season definitely put me into a good spot. I felt confident in helping other teammates, sharing my experience, and leading. Having that confidence helped me try new things and continue to work at becoming better at my craft, and striving to want to be my best teammate I could all year.”

Hill has coached Harvey at BK Selects and on the international stage, giving him a deep appreciation for how she’s grown her abilities and where she might go from here.

“She’s a rising star,” Hill said. “There’s no limit on what she’ll be able to achieve in her career. She is someone who younger players should be modeling — in regards to skill, stride, speed and athleticism — if they have goals to reach the national team level.”

BK alum Jule Schiefer carries the puck during the 2023 Women’s Worlds. (IIHF)

While the USA reversed the result of last year’s gold-medal game, Czechia repeated its bronze showing of 2022 — the nation’s first-ever medal in six Women’s Worlds appearances — with another third-place performance this time around.

Although she didn’t see game action, current BK Selects 19U goalie Michaela Hesova (Hovorčovice, Czechia / Dartmouth College) made the roster on a senior national team for the first time.

Germany also continued to lift its women’s hockey reputation, making it to the quarterfinals and winning three times in total — the most victories the country had ever claimed in a World Championship. Former BK forwards Nina Christof (2018-22) and Jule Schiefer (2019-20) each played in all six games.

But, as usual, it all came down to the United States versus Canada for the title.

Playing in front of a friendly crowd at the CAA Centre and — counting the 2022 Olympics — trying to make it five straight senior-level gold medals, the Canadian team pushed out to three separate one-goal leads.

However, the United States controlled the third period, starting with Harvey’s equalizer and ending with Cayla Barnes’ empty-netter.

“I was just in shock,” Winn said of the final moments. “I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. When we got the empty-netter, I had so many emotions, tears of joy for sure.

“I had just had that dream for so long and it was such a surreal moment to be a part of.”

The author can be reached at matt.gajtka@gmail.com.

(Top photo credit: IIHF)