Kelli Stack looks to complete heroic comeback with golden win at Winter Games

One of the offensive catalysts for the CWHL’s Boston Blades, Kelli Stack’s electrifying 2012-13 season was sidelined by a knee injury. Since then, she has valiantly rebounded to be named to the American contingent competing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

The roster was named on New Year’s Day during the second intermission of the Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. While the event set a world record for attendance, it offered Stack with a chance at redemption. After tearing her cruciate knee ligament in December 2012, it has been a road filled with perseverance and dedication. The first step was when she returned to skates on September 9 at the US training camp in Bedford, Mass with the result being her confidence was quickly restored.

On the ice at Michigan Stadium after being named to the 2014 US Olympic Team (Image obtained from Twitter: https://twitter.com/kstack16)

On the ice at Michigan Stadium after being named to the 2014 US Olympic Team (Image obtained from Twitter: https://twitter.com/kstack16)

Stack’s return is one of the feel-good stories for USA Hockey. Her presence was certainly felt on December 30, 2013 when she contributed two assists along with the game-winning tally for Team USA in a 3-2 exhibition victory in front of 17,227 fans at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. As the final match-up between the eternal rivals until Sochi, it provides confidence for a US team looking to claim its first gold medal in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games since Nagano 1998.

Evading Canadian defender Catherine Ward in a 3-2 win on December 30 at Toronto's Air Canada Centre (Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski, USA Today Sports)

Evading Canadian defender Catherine Ward in a 3-2 win on December 30 at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre (Photo credit: Tom Szczerbowski, USA Today Sports)

After missing two significant milestones in US women’s hockey history due to injury, Stack is hoping to make more history at Sochi. Stack was in street-clothes when she saw her Boston Blades achieve a Clarkson Cup victory over a Montreal Stars team that had not allowed a goal in round robin play. A few weeks later, the US would hand Canada its first IIHF Women’s World Championship gold medal game loss on home ice. Missing both events only helped to motivate Stack.

The all-time BC Eagles and Hockey East scoring leader with 133 points is a former All-America selection. The year she won the Bob Allen Award (awarded by USA Hockey for the Most Outstanding Female Player) in 2012, she played on a line with sensational twin sisters Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux. Known affectionately as the “Stacksicles”, all three are part of the US team for 2014.

Stack (second from right) still recovering from injury when the Boston Blades claimed the 2013 Clarkson Cup (Photo credit: Brandon Taylor, Courtesy: CWHL Images)

Stack (second from right) still recovering from injury when the Boston Blades claimed the 2013 Clarkson Cup (Photo credit: Brandon Taylor, Courtesy: CWHL Images)

She is one of 11 players on the 2014 roster that have competed in a previous Winter Games. In addition, she joins five other Boston Blades competitors, Kacey Bellamy, Meghan Duggan (Team USA captain), Hilary Knight (the first US born player to be named CWHL MVP), Gigi Marvin and goaltender Molly Schaus.

A gold medal in Sochi would provide Stack, her five Blades teammates and Julie Chu entry into the Triple Gold Club for Women. The criterion includes a Clarkson Cup, IIHF World Gold and Winter Games gold. Currently, the only American-born player to have achieved this rare milestone is Jenny Potter.

As Stack gets ready to make her mark in the next chapter of the eternal rivalry between the Canadian and American women’s hockey teams, she has already earned the respect and admiration of many hockey fans. Her comeback is one that not only inspires but motivates others to never give up on their dreams. While it is impossible to determine which team shall claim the gold due to the high level of talent, Stack already has the heart of an empowered champion, placing her with much admiration in the hearts and minds of the game’s fans, Canadian and American.

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