The new motto of the U.S. women’s national hockey squad could be that the team that rides out a hurricane together stays together.
U.S. forward Brianna Decker said after spending 22 1/2 hours hunkered down together in Wesley Chapel, Fla., to avoid Hurricane Irma, the Americans have a fresh understanding of the team concept.
“Indirectly, it ended up being a great team-bonding experience,” Decker said. “Hanging out together for that long, we still all got along and it showed a lot about our team.”
The Americans, training in Florida for the 2018 Olympics, entered a secure area of Saddlebrook Resort at 10:30 a.m. Sunday and came out at 9 a.m. Monday with everyone safe.
Wesley Chapel is located 20 miles north of Tampa. Many from the Tampa area evacuated, including members of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think unknown (aspect) of it made it daunting at the beginning of the week,” USA forward Meghan Duggan said. “But it turned out to us having a giant sleepover in a very secure area.”
USA Hockey director of women’s hockey Reagan Carey said she was confident of the decision to keep the team sheltered in place because local authorities were recommending that people use Saddlebrook as an option for evacuees.
“We knew every detail of the building including how many steel trusses there were in the building and whether it was poured concrete,” Carey said. “We were confident we were in a safe, secure area.”
Duggan said she had no reservations about remaining in Florida. “As players, within our team culture, we talk about trusting in everything we do,” Duggan said. “Trusting the process with regard to how we play. It’s the same motto we followed in this. Reagan and the rest of our staff worked hard to communicate that we had a proper plan and that everyone was feeling good and that we were safe. We put a trust in that, and we were (safe). It all worked it as good as it could under the circumstances.”
Carey said once she walked players through the plan to stay in the resort, and the safeguards that were in place, “they were ready to stick together.”
“It wasn’t scary at all,” Decker said. “We had full protection where we were at. Most of us were pretty calm and relaxed. We played a lot of board games. It turned out well.”
Decker estimated there were more than 450 other people with the…