USA Hockey announced today that Katie Lachapelle (Lewiston, Maine), who brings more than 20 years of collegiate coaching experience and is currently the head women’s ice hockey coach at Holy Cross, has been named head coach of the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team that will play in the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women's World Championship anticipated to take place this coming January.
Joining her as assistant coaches will be Melanie Ruzzi (Princeton, N.J.), assistant women’s ice hockey coach at Princeton University; Chelsea Walkland (Hamilton, N.Y.), assistant women’s ice hockey coach at Colgate University; and Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.), a member of the gold medal-winning 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team. In addition, Alli Altmann (Eagan, Minn.) returns to the staff as goaltending coach.
“We’re extremely fortunate to have Katie leading our team this season,” said Katie Million, director of women’s national team programs for USA Hockey. “She brings significant experience, including in international hockey, and has played an important role in our overall women’s national team program for several years. We’re also thrilled to have Mel, Chelsea, Brianna and Alli part of the coaching staff. Overall, we have a great group that is focused on helping bring a gold medal back to our country at the world championship early next year.”
Lachapelle is serving as head coach of the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team for the first time, however, is no stranger to the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National program, having been an assistant coach for four straight seasons from 2013-17. During that time, she helped lead the U.S. to three gold medals (2015-17) and one silver medal (2014) in the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship and also was part of the staff of the U.S. Under-18 Select Team that played in the U18 Series against Canada each season. Lachapelle has also served as an assistant coach of the U.S. Women’s National Under-22 Select Team both in 2018 and 2019 and has been a coach at numerous national and player development camps over the last decade.
"I'm extremely honored and grateful to serve as head coach of the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team,” said Lachapelle. “I'm excited for the challenge ahead, and I look forward to working with the best young players in the country. Thank you to USA Hockey for this opportunity."
Lachapelle finished her third season, and first as head coach, with the Holy Cross women’s ice hockey team in 2019-20. She spent the first two seasons as the team’s associate head coach. The Lewsiton, Maine, native helped increase the team’s win total in Hockey East by four in her first year as head coach and also its conference point total by nine.
Prior to joining the Crusaders coaching staff, Lachapelle was an assistant coach for nine seasons at Boston University (2008-17). During that time, she helped the Terriers to five Hockey East titles and six NCAA Tournament appearances, including two trips to the Frozen Four (2011, 2013) where the Terriers advanced to the title game both years. She also spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Ohio State University (2004-08) and prior to that was an assistant coach at Niagara University from 2001-04, highlighted by a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2002. She began her collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at Union College for two seasons (1999-01). Lachapelle received the Women’s Assistant Coach Award from the American Hockey Coaches Association in 2013.
Ruzzi is serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team for the first time. She has been involved with USA Hockey since 2006, including serving as the director of USA Hockey’s multi-district girls camp for the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Districts since 2017. She recently finished her first season as an assistant coach of the Princeton University women’s hockey team where she helped the Tigers to a program-record 26-win campaign, including the school’s first ECAC Tournament championship. The team also qualified for the NCAA quarterfinals. Ruzzi began her coaching career at NCAA Division II Amherst College in 2005, where she was an assistant coach for two seasons. Following that, she served as an assistant coach at Harvard University before returning to her alma mater, Providence College, for six years (2012-18) as an associate coach.
Walkland makes her debut as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team this season. She recently finished her first campaign as an assistant coach for the Colgate University women’s hockey team and helped guide the Red Raiders to a 17-15-6 record. Walkland spent the five seasons prior to arriving at Colgate in a similar capacity at her alma mater, Robert Morris, where she helped the Colonials to three College Hockey America regular-season titles. Walkland began her collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach with Rochester Institute of Technology in 2011-12, a season that included a 28-1-1 record and an NCAA Division III national championship. She then served for two seasons (2012-14) as an assistant coach at the State University of New York at Oswego. Walkland has previous experience with USA Hockey having been involved with the organization’s various player development camps since 2012.
Decker returns for a third consecutive season as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Women's National Team. Since she joined the program’s coaching staff, Team USA has earned the gold medal in the 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship and a silver medal in 2019. Decker has also served as a coach at various Central District camps since 2012 and at the USA Hockey Girls Under-18 Select Player Development Camps. Additionally, Decker has served as an assistant coach with the Madison Capitals and at various other camps since graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 2014. Decker, a two-time Olympian (2018-gold, 2014-silver), six-time International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship gold medalist (2013-19, 2011), two-time Bob Allen Women's Player of the Year Award recipient (2017, 2015) and recipient of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award (2012), continues to be an active player in the USA Hockey women's program.
Altmann is serving as the goaltending coach for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team for the third consecutive season. Since joining the coaching staff, Team USA has earned the gold medal in the 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship as well as a silver medal in 2019. Altmann has also served as the goaltending coach for two USA Hockey Women’s National Festivals (2018, 2017) and for the U.S. Under-18 Women’s Select Team (2017). Altmann played four seasons collegiately at Minnesota State University (2008-12) where she holds the record for most games played by a goaltender with 110. Currently, she serves as vice president of DEVENIR Goaltenders.
NOTES: Kristen Wright (St. Paul, Minn.) will serve as general manager of the U.S. Under-18 Women's National Team. Wright has been part of the USA Hockey staff since 2014 and currently serves as the American Development Model manager for female hockey … The IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship is scheduled to be played for the 14th time in 2021. The dates and location of the tournament will be announced later this year ... Team USA has captured a record eight gold medals in the IIHF U18 Women's World Championship (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020) and also has five silver medals (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019) to its credit.