DULUTH - When former Minnesota Duluth defenseman Sidney Morin, as well as former Boston College forward Haley Skarupa, were added to the U.S Women's National Team roster in November, it unsettled some who had been with Team USA since August.
USA goaltender Maddie Rooney, whose position was unaffected, sympathized with her teammates, but was excited at the same time to be reunited with a friend and former UMD teammate.
"Player change is all part of the process. It's a really difficult time, but it's also exciting for the two who are brought in," Rooney said. "I was really excited for Sidney to be brought in. I was excited she got called up to show what she's capable of. She's a great addition to the team."
Morin not only earned another tryout with Team USA, she wound up sticking to join Rooney on the 2018 United States Olympic women's team that opens play against Finland at 1:40 a.m. Sunday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
This is the first Olympics for Morin, who wrapped up a four-year career with the Bulldogs last spring, and Rooney, a junior who is on sabbatical from school this season. Team USA arrived in Pyeongchang last Friday, Feb. 2, after 17 hours of travel and a one-night stay in the South Korean capital of Seoul.
Talking by phone Tuesday from Korea (Monday in Duluth), Morin said her experience thus far had been "eye-opening."
"You have this wide lens and you are taking everything in right now," Morin said. "It's super exciting and humbling to see all the athletes walking around the village and going to the rink, just feeling like you are on top of the world."
Morin was in her fourth month in Sweden playing professionally for MODO when she received an email in November from Team USA general manager Reagan Carey asking if she wanted another tryout for the U.S. Olympic team. Morin said the email came as a complete surprise since she hadn't heard from Team USA since the selection camp.
USA head coach Robb Stauber, a Duluth native, had been keeping an eye on Morin, though not on her play in Sweden where she was lighting up the scoresheet with 10 goals and 22 assists in 21 games. Stauber said Morin kept jumping out to him as he watched game film from the selection camp, searching for what he thought was missing from his team.
"She skates so well. We're a skating team. Everybody knows it," Stauber said. "We're pretty skilled, we're pretty fast. We move a lot and expect everyone to be able to move a lot, and move with some fluidity. Sid can do that.
"It made all the sense in the world to give somebody with that kind of skill level a second chance. Not only can she move, she can shoot the puck, she can defend. She is a very alive player on the ice. She understands positioning. We're very, very fortunate that we made the right decision in the nick of time, to be honest."
Morin said she was nervous when she joined the national team in Tampa, Fla. She figured there would be some angst about new players joining the team late in the process, especially after many thought the 23 players announced during the spring would be the final Olympic roster.
With another game just days away against Canada in Minneapolis, any hard feelings were squashed quickly and the team proved to be nothing but supportive, Morin said.
"People were really welcoming and supportive and trying to get me up to speed on systems and the way they were trying to play," she said. "People were really nice and a lot nicer than I expected them to be with someone joining the team late, when they thought that was going to be their team.
"They just want to win a gold medal."