When the final roster for the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team is released Wednesday, four former University of Wisconsin standouts will be on it.
A fifth, however, has been released, according to UW coach Mark Johnson.
Goaltender Jessie Vetter and wingers Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight are projected to be key contributors for Team USA in the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Three are former Patty Kazmaier Award winners as the best player in the nation: Vetter in 2009, Duggan in 2011 and Decker in 2012. Knight, meanwhile, is the all-time leading scorer in UW history.
Vetter, from Cottage Grove, Duggan and Knight played for the Americans when they won the Olympic silver medal in Vancouver. Decker, from Dousman, is making her Games debut.
Winger Anne Pankowski, who was originally slated to be a freshman for the Badgers in 2013-14, was one of the last two players cut by Team USA coach Katey Stone.
Johnson has been in Stone’s shoes before because he coached the Americans in 2010.
Johnson said Pankowski, from Laguna Hills, Calif., won’t enroll at UW for the second semester in part because her scholarship money was deferred until 2014-15. She’s expected to remain at home until the summer when she comes to Madison for workouts with her UW teammates.
“As tough as it is to swallow, it’s one of those things as an athlete that can push her in a direction where she wants to be in four years,’’ Johnson said.
“When I talked to her … it was, ‘What positive things do you take away? What did you learn? Where do you want to go from here?’
“She’s excited to come in next year,’’ Johnson added. “She’ll come in next fall certainly more prepared than she would have been this year.’’