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Friday, May 24, 2024
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Olympian Caroline Harvey going for gold with Wisconsin

The WCHA Tournament-winning Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team have standout defender Caroline Harvey to thank for their success.

Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey sophomore defender Caroline “KK” Harvey has a lot of success behind her. The nickname came from her younger sister, Grace, but the love of hockey was passed down by Harvey’s older brother, Nolan. 

The early years

Harvey picked up skating at the age of three and took off from there. 

Growing up in Salem, New Hampshire, where there were limited opportunities for women’s hockey, Harvey had to make a tough decision. At 14, she moved to Rochester, New York to play on the Selects Hockey Academy U16 team, where she stayed for two seasons. 

She then moved up to the Bishop Kearney Selects U19 team, also based in Rochester

Team USA

Harvey got the call from Team USA for the first time in 2018, when she was selected to play in the Under-18 Series. She competed in two series and two world championships for the U18 team. 

Finally, Harvey was called up to the Women’s National Team in 2021 and played in the IIHF Women’s World Championship, where she began tallying her Team USA points. Harvey created one goal and three assists in the 2021 season alone. 

Harvey returned to the Women’s World Championship the next couple years and blew those statistics away. She tallied eight points with the team during the 2022 championship and 14 during the seven-game tournament in 2023. 

Olympic powerhouse

For the 2022 Beijing Olympic games, Harvey told ESPN the process of selection camps was nerve-wracking. Before knowing if she’d make the team, she said she kept the option of joining Wisconsin for the 2022-23 season. Harvey said the national team schedule got in the way of that when Harvey was selected for Team USA in January of 2022. 

Surrounded by her idols, Harvey went into the 2022 Beijing Olympics not knowing what to expect as the youngest player on the team. Harvey told ESPN that, at 19 years old, she struggled with confidence and finding her place. But, many of the more experienced women offered compliments and advice. 

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“[Harvey’s] potential is just incredible… It’s scary to see what she can be in a few years because she’s already there now,” former Badger Hilary Knight told the Associated Press. 

Megan Keller, a veteran defenseman for Team USA, told ESPN Harvey’s skating style is quick and wild. 

“She’s a little Energizer bunny out there,” Keller said. 

“If you watch her games, you’re not going to think that she’s 19 years old and a rookie defenseman for us,” Brianna Decker, a Wisconsin alumna and the coach for Harvey’s Under-18 team, told USA Today.

However, Harvey received little ice time during the Olympic games and recorded no points. That experience placed Harvey into a mental box, and she lost a bit of that energized character that helped her on the ice. 

A change in the Team USA coaching allowed Harvey to realize her full potential, she told the AP

“I felt the year before I was playing in a way where I was trying to avoid making mistakes,” Harvey said, adding she didn’t want to play scared anymore.

A place on the Wisconsin Team

Harvey found her place at Wisconsin after the IIHF Women’s World Championship games, where Team USA lost in the gold-medal game to Canada. After a slow start to her freshman season, Harvey picked up the pace and consistently recorded points following the five assists she dished out in a 10-0 win against Lindenwood. 

However, Harvey was injured in an October game against Bemidji State. 

“My injury taught me a lot on and off the ice,” Harvey told Kaz Watch. Her confidence at Wisconsin grew as Harvey thrived as a leader and learned how to better support her teammates from the bench. 

A big moment for Harvey came during the 2023 NCAA Semifinals game against Minnesota, when she scored the winning goal in overtime for Wisconsin. This was Harvey’s second overtime-winning score of her career, and it came a day after she earned the All-American award. 

Harvey tallied five goals and 30 assists this season. She also notched a season-high five blocks in Wisconsin’s WCHA Final Faceoff Championship win against Ohio State in March. 

More to come 

Harvey has played in 52 games across her national career since joining Team USA in 2018. She was awarded the U.S. Player of the Game title during a preliminary competition against Switzerland in last year’s IIHF Women’s World Championship series. Harvey scored twice in this game, with both goals coming from a power play. 

Named the Bob Allen Player of the Year for her freshman season at Wisconsin, Harvey undoubtedly has more to offer. After playing 41 games her rookie season, Harvey was also awarded Rookie All-American — the first time the title was given to a Badger since 2001

The Wisconsin team failed to take another win from the NCAA Championship title game after setting the record for national titles won last season. The 1-0 loss for Wisconsin didn’t stop Harvey and four of her teammates from jumping into training for the IIHF Women’s Worlds

In the USA versus Japan final, Harvey scored her second goal of the tournament. She ended the competition with 2 goals and 8 assists

Badgers playing for Team USA and Team Canada both got a shot at the gold medal game on April 14. While Team USA couldn’t secure a consecutive win, the Hockey News named Caroline Harvey as one of the top ten performers of the tournament. 

Harvey was also recognized as a top ten finalist for the Patty Kazmaier award. Kaz Watch reporter Nicole Haase said Harvey’s skill lies in her tough-to-beat defense that creates offensive opportunities. Harvey, who won the WCHA Defender of the Month in December, deserves the recognition for her wild-style skating and blocking skill. 

As Johnson told the AP, “She’s sort of got the ‘it’ factor.” 

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