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Women's team players end boycott of world championships after reaching accord with USA Hockey

Women's team players end boycott of world championships after reaching accord with USA Hockey
Meghan Duggan, pictured at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, said of the players' agreement with USA Hockey, “Our sport is the big winner today.”

Leaders of the powerhouse American women's team reached an agreement with USA Hockey on Tuesday night, ending their boycott just days before the world championships.

The agreement means the U.S. will defend its title at the international tournament in Plymouth, Mich., with its best talent on the ice.

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"Our sport is the big winner today," said Meghan Duggan, the national squad's captain. "We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together."

The women had been at odds with national officials for more than a year, the two sides negotiating over issues that included compensation, funding for staff and junior development.

Duggan and her teammates had complained about inequitable treatment, contending they received less support than the men's program.

USA Hockey insisted it had devoted ample resources to make the women's program successful.

"Today reflects everyone coming together and compromising in order to reach a resolution for the betterment of the sport," said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey.

Both parties agreed not to disclose terms of the four-year deal, saying only that it included the creation of a Women's High Performance Advisory Group composed of staff, current and former players and volunteers.

The new group will meet regularly "to assist USA Hockey in effort to advance girls' and women's hockey in all areas."

The U.S. women have won a string of world titles and have earned medals in every Winter Games since their sport was added to the Olympics in 1998.

Players agreed to report for practice on Thursday and will face off against Canada in their first game on Friday.

"This is an inspirational time and we're excited to get back on the ice and represent our country," veteran forward Hilary Knight said.

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