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Hockey - 11. September 2008.

Ice Hockey-U.S. Women's National Residency Program Begins Today in Blaine, Minn.

Schedule to Feature 10 Games Against NCAA Teams; Lesteberg to Serve as Assistant Coach


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey's residency program for post-NCAA athletes involved in its U.S. Women's National Program begins today in Blaine, Minn. The new iniative, which involves on- and off-ice training and games, is based at the National Sport Center's Schwan Super Rink.

The schedule for the 2008-09 U.S. Women's Select Team is highlighted by 10 games against NCAA Division I women's teams, including the teams that played in the national title game last season - the University of Wisconsin and the champion University of Minnesota Duluth.

In addition, Team USA will face off against the Western Women's Hockey League's Minnesota Whitecaps six times and will play in an elite men's league (Minnesota Wild Adult Hockey League) at the Super Rink. Finally, the U.S. squad will compete against local high-school boys' teams, as well as a Midget Minor AAA team in Wisconsin.

Participants in the residency program will be vying to earn spots on the U.S. Women's Select Team for the 2008 Women's Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., from November 4-9, as well as the U.S. Women's National Team for the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's Championship in Hameenlinna, Finland, from April 4-12.

As previously announced, Tom Osiecki, who was an assistant coach for the University of Minnesota women's ice hockey team in 2007-08, will serve as the head coach of the program. Joining Osiecki behind the bench will be Jason Lesteberg, who most recently served as the head women's ice hockey coach at St. Cloud State University.

During his four seasons at St. Cloud (2002-06), Lesteberg guided the Huskies to their first-ever national ranking, while also making an appearance in the 2006 Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Four. That same season, 14 of his student-athletes earned WCHA All-Academic honors, setting a conference record.

Prior to his time at St. Cloud, Lesteberg served one season (2001-02) as the head women's ice hockey coach at Bemidji State University, where he was a finalist for the NCAA Division I Coach of the Year. In addition, he spent a season (2000-01) in the same role at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and was an assistant coach for the Gustavus Adolphus College men's ice hockey team from 1997-2000. Lesteberg graduated in 1996 from Gustavus, where he was an All-American hockey player.

Practices start today for the 2008-09 U.S. Women's Select Team, while Team USA's first game will take place Wednesday night (September 10) against the Lumberjacks of the MNWAHL (time TBA).

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