As USA Hockey gets ready to attempt and win its first gold medal in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games since Nagano 1998, the program is looking towards younger superstars in the hopes of making that dream a reality.
Among a group of youngsters which includes Alex Carpenter and Amanda Kessel, the youngest of this youth movement is Jincy Dunne. Having already competed with the United States senior team at the 2012 Four Nations Cup, Dunne is a 16 year-old hockey phenomenon who may end up with a chance to be on the US roster which competes at Sochi 2014.
Should she qualify for the squad, it would make her the youngest player ever to compete with the US women’s team at the Winter Games. Back in Nagano 1998, the US had an 18 year-old player who would forge a remarkable legacy with USA Hockey. That was triple gold club member Jenny Schmidgall (better known today as Jenny Potter).
Raised in the St. Louis area, Dunne has also been a mainstay on the United States Under-18 national team. She was part of the silver medal winning U18 squad at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Finland, one of only two 15 year-olds on the squad. Two months earlier, she was in Finland winning the gold medal with the senior team.
Considering that women’s hockey is not as popular in Missouri as in other parts of the country, it is testament to Dunne’s unique talent. Having started at roller hockey, she transitioned to ice hockey when her brother decided to play. She has also spent time with the Northern Edge Reebok team.
With five other siblings (all of whom have given names that begin with the letter J), Dunne is named after her maternal grandmother. With the entire family engaged in sports, Dunne (the second oldest child) is also a two-sport star. In addition to her exploits on the ice, she has graced the hardcourt with a high school boys team at Westminster in St. Albans, Missouri.
While her current club team is the St. Louis Lady Blues, she still practices with St. Louis AAA, a boys hockey team that she once competed with. In 2012, she helped the club reach the AAA national championship game. Of note, former NHLer Keith Tkachuk was her assistant coach with St. Louis AAA.
Known for her skating ability, footwork and on-ice smarts that she developed in boys hockey (due to her small 5’6” frame), one of her current teammates with the Lady Blues also has roots in the St. Louis sporting community. Katie Matheny, the daughter of St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is a teammate of Dunne.
Although Dunne’s eventual goal is to become a doctor, she is also a religious individual who believes in giving back to the community. A gifted athlete and a terrific example for today’s youth, it is not everyday that a female hockey player who is a junior in high school has to work towards possibly earning Winter Games gold before even picking a college. While Lindenwood University is the only NCAA Division I program based in Missouri, there is no question that whichever NCAA school she decides to go, will have recruited an incredible athlete and person.
Should Dunne not be selected for Sochi 2014, it will not be for lack of effort. Competing against players that are five to ten years her senior, Dunne’s time at this year’s US centralization shall prove to be a wonderful learning experience that will definitely provide personal growth. A certainty to be penciled in to the roster for Pyeongchang 2018, one day, many from USA Hockey will brag about how they knew her before she even obtained her driver’s license.