Katie Lachapelle, center, is behind the bench for a USA vs. Canada U22 women’s hockey game in Lake Placid, New York, in August 2019. USA won 4-2. Nancie Battaglia/USA Hockey

Katie Lachapelle is looking forward to coaching the future of women’s hockey.

Earlier this week, the Lewiston native was named the head coach of the United States Under-18 team for the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation’s Under-18 World Women’s World Championships. Team USA is for back-to-back gold medals at the tournament.

Katie Lachapelle attended the 2019 USA Hockey Women’s National Festival in Lake Placid, New York, as an assistant coach of the U22 team. Nancie Battaglia/USA Hockey

“I love working with our younger players and top talent,” Lachapelle said. “It’s certainly fun to go and help those young women represent their country and being a part of their hockey journey.”

This won’t be the first time Lachapelle has been involved with the U18 team. She served as an assistant coach from 2013-17 when USA won the gold medal from 2015-17 and a silver medal in 2014 at the U18 World Championships. She also was a member of the U22 coaching staff in 2018-19.

Lachapelle’s combination of international and college coaching experience — she’s is the head coach at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts — made her the right person for the job.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have Katie leading our team this season,” Katie Million, director of women’s national team programs for USA Hockey, said in a news release. “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. “

Even with her years of experience, Lachapelle was not certain she would be chosen to lead the U18 program.

“I didn’t think too much of it. I was fortunate to work with pretty great people (with the USA program),” Lachapelle said. “You never know if you are going to be asked back, so it’s always a great feeling to get asked back. It’s been great from my own program of stepping in as the head coach at Holy Cross and being able to step into the head coach with the Under-18 national team has certainly been great. I appreciate everything I have been fortunate to be a part of.”

Lachapelle’s assistant coaches for the U18 team are Brianna Decker, who helped Team USA win a gold medal at the 2018 Olympics and currently plays in Calgary as part of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association; Melanie Ruzzi, an assistant at Princeton; Chelsea Walkland, an assistant at Colgate University; and Alli Altmann, who will be the team’s goaltending coach.

Kate Lachapelle, center, gives instructions to the Holy Cross women’s hockey team. Lachapelle, who attended Lewiston High School, recently finished her first season as Holy Cross’ head coach after spending the previous two seasons as associate head coach. Mark Seliger Photography

Lachapelle, a 2015 Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame inductee who played at Lewiston High School and at Providence College, is leading the U18 team into uncharted waters due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but she’s said plans to run the program like any other year. The IIHF hasn’t named a host site for the Women’s World U18 championships, which is usually held in late December and early January.

“You go full-steam ahead with the original plan, but in the back of your head there might be some secondary plans or a little bit of different ways of having to do selections or get the team to meet each other,” Lachapelle said. “As of right now, we are still planning on the July camp and another camp in August.”

She will be ready to adjust if the Girls U18 Select Player Development Camp that is tentatively scheduled for July 15-21 at Herb Brooks Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota, is postponed or canceled. There’s also a camp in August where the U18 and U22 teams play their counterparts from Canada.

This past season was Lachapelle’s first season behind the bench at Holy Cross. The Crusaders went 5-20-2 after going 1-25-2 in 2018-19.

She felt like Holy Cross provided a challenge to its opponents.

“A huge part of that is getting that first year under your belt and being ready to go that second year,” Lachapelle said. “The team was able to learn a lot by getting through that first year, which certainly helped. It was great, it was a lot of fun, I feel like we were pretty competitive in a huge percentage of our games compared to the year before. We expect that to continue, we expect to be more competitive this year.”


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