Hilary Knight was recruited by Mark Johnson – a star player on the U.S. men’s hockey team in 1980 – to play for the University of Wisconsin. In the words of Johnson, “Her (Knight) size, her strength and her speed, some of the things she’s able to do with the puck, whether it’s stickhandling and beating somebody one-on-one, taking a quick snap shot and beating the goalie in a tough situation.”
In the time that Knight played for the Badgers, she broke the school’s record for all-time goals, which was set by her coach. She ended career in the university with 143 goals, 30 of which are game-winners.
Knight, 28, is now on the way to her third Olympics, and she has the record for the most points of any current player. In her 152 games for the U.S. team, she has scored 101 goals and 78 assists. Meanwhile, she ranks third in world championship and Olympic tournaments, falling behind Cammi Granato and Natalie Darwitz.
Knight has scored a total of 18 goals in the last three world championships, which has helped America surpass its rival Canada and win gold in those three tournaments. It is the rivalry between USA and Canada that fuels Knight and other members of the team as they get ready for the Pyeongchang Olympics. They will play Canada in the preliminary round in February 15, and it is expected that the two countries will have a match again a week later – this time with the gold medal at stake.
Canada has won the past four golds in the Olympics. The dismay of losing to Canada twice still lingers in Knight and some of her teammates who were present in Sochi in 2014 and in Vancouver in 2010.
Knight is now focused on defeating Canada for the gold medal. “It’s been 20 years since the women’s hockey team won a gold medal, and it’s time,” she said. “Everything I do is for a gold medal for this country. I know if I look to the right or look to the left in the locker room, it’s the same.”