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Globe North Sports Notebook

Danvers’ Duggan makes Olympic team

By John Vellante
January 3, 2010

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A lifelong dream became reality a few days before Christmas when Meghan Duggan of Danvers was named a member of the US women’s Olympic hockey team.

Now it’s off to Vancouver, where Duggan and her 20 teammates, including three from Massachusetts, begin their quest for a gold medal with a first-round matchup Feb. 14 against China.

Before that, however, there will be stops in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Finland for QWest Tour warm-up games leading up to the Olympics.

“From when I was a little girl skating for the first time, I was always telling everyone that someday I was going to be in the Olympics,’’ said Duggan, 22, who played at Cushing Academy before beginning an All-American career at the University of Wisconsin. “This has been a lifelong dream and it has finally come true. It’s amazing and I can’t wait to get to Vancouver and represent my country.’’

Duggan wanted to be on this team so badly that she sacrificed her 2009-2010 senior season at Wisconsin. She voluntarily red-shirted to “put my whole heart’’ into the Olympic effort and will return to Wisconsin next season for her final year of eligibility.

“It’s an exciting day for a lot of reasons,’’ said Team USA coach Mark Johnson, in announcing the team. “It was an extremely tough decision, but now we can move forward and continue preparing ourselves. We feel good about the process, which gave everyone an opportunity. We’re excited by the youthfulness of our team, as well as comfortable with the veterans and the leadership they will provide.’’

Team USA general manager Michele Amidon said: “We’re enthusiastic and confident that we have the best 21 players to help us achieve our goal of winning the gold medal.’’

Duggan is no stranger to international competition. She is a three-time member of the US Women’s National Team and competed in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championships in 2007, 2008, and 2009. She skated on the US Women’s Select Team for the Four Nations Cup in 2007 and 2008. Duggan also captained the US Women’s Under-22 Select Team against Canada in 2008.

But being on the US Olympic team and skating on the world’s biggest stage is the high point, and Duggan insists she took nothing for granted throughout the audition process.

“I played well in the worlds and was confident and hoped for the best, but I was never really 100 percent sure until the roster was posted and my name was on it,’’ she said. “Right up until that time I was nervous. I didn’t know I was safe until I saw the roster.’’

Team USA includes three goaltenders, six defensemen, and 12 forwards and was chosen from the 23 players who made up the National Team. The team has been training in Blaine, Minn., at the National Sports Center since September and competing on the QWest Tour and in two international tournaments. Duggan is one of the forwards. At 5-feet, 9-inches, she plays a physical and defensive game with offensive pop to boot. In three seasons at Wisconsin, she scored 69 goals and 151 points in 118 games. Last season, she led the Badgers to the NCAA Division 1 championship.

Other Massachusetts women on the team are Boston College goalie Molly Schaus of Natick, University of New Hampshire defenseman Kacey Bellamy of Westfield, and University of Wisconsin forward Erika Lawler of Fitchburg.

“That says a lot about women’s hockey in Massachusetts,’’ said Duggan. “It’s strong and growing and will continue to grow in the future.’’

Around and about
While Duggan prepares for Vancouver and the Olympics, Ryan Bourque and Chris Kreider, both of Boxford, are in Saskatchewan skating in the World Junior Hockey Championships as members of the US National Junior Team. In wins over Slovakia, Switzerland, and Latvia, Kreider had four goals and an assist and Bourque two assists. . . . Former Swampscott football captain Brian Palangi, who was left hanging when Northeastern dropped its football program, has landed at Northern Iowa. The 6-4, 300-pound center will have three seasons of NCAA eligibility at Northern Iowa, which is one of the nation’s top Football Championship Subdivision programs. . . . Senior Molly Clay of Rockport was one of four University of Massachusetts Lowell players participating in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division 2 North/South Senior All-Star Game in Winston-Salem, N.C. . . . Bruce Crabbe will return to manage the Lowell Spinners next season. Crabbe, who managed the Spinners in 2006, replaces Gary DiSarcina, who was named Red Sox minor league infield coordinator. In three seasons, DiSarcina won two NY-Penn League Stedler Division championships. Crabbe was 39-36 in his one season as manager.

Ideas and information may be sent to JohnPVel@aol.com.