By Chris Kuc, Tribune Olympic Bureau
6:33 PM PST, February 14, 2014
SOCHI, Russia — Katey Stone looks right at home standing behind the U.S. bench in a dark coat, her arms crossed, calmly dispensing instructions and encouragement.
Stone is the first female to coach the U.S. women's hockey team, a responsibility the 47-year-old doesn't take lightly.
"I understand what the significance of this is for me and for my family and everybody else," Stone said. "I appreciate that, but that never has been something that has driven me. I've always just tried to do the right thing, be the best at what we're trying to do and let people decide what that means in the end."
She certainly has the resume to lead a Team USA squad into the semifinals of the eight-team tournament and remains a co-favorite with Canada to take gold. Stone is in her 19th season with the Harvard women's program and is the winningest coach in the history of NCAA Division I women's hockey.
That prompted USA Hockey to hand her the reins of a team poised to take the medal stand.
Stone says she can relate to the players in ways a male could not.
"There are some things that are not gender-specific, but there are certainly things that are," she said. "My relationship with these players is different than a guy. You understand when you really demand more and it's OK, but you always care a ton. It's in the presentation."
Captain, my captain: U.S. team captain Meghan Duggan described her approach: "Lead by example. That's something my entire career as an athlete I've tried to take pride in, whether it's on the ice or off the ice. You have to be committed 24/7. You're going to be someone that is going to encourage and harp on your teammates to do the little things and make sure they're preparing themselves in the right way. And then you have to make sure you're doing that yourself."
Waiting game: Canada and the U.S. finished first and second in Group A and earned byes into the semifinal round. After Team Canada defeated Team USA 3-2 on Wednesday night, the teams will not be in action until Monday.
The quarterfinals will be Saturday, when Finland faces Sweden and Switzerland takes on Russia. The Russia-Switzerland winner draws Canada, and the Finland-Sweden survivor battles the U.S.
Swiss forward Evelina Raselli will not play in the quarters after receiving a match penalty against Finland in the prelims.atch penalty against Finland in the prelims.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC