By JOHN WAWROW AP Hockey Writer
Three-time Olympian Brianna Decker announced her retirement from the United States national hockey team on Thursday, ending a career in which she ranks third among American women players in world championship tournament points.
The forward from Wisconsin was a core member of USA Hockey’s next generation of female players, who built on the success of their trail-blazing predecessors. She was a member of the gold medal-winning team at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea — the U.S.‘s second to win a title after the 1998 Nagano Games, when women’s hockey made its Olympic debut.
The 31-year-old Decker also won Olympic silver medals in 2014 and 2022, along with six world championship titles. She made her national team debut with the Under-18 squad in 2008, and competed in her first world championship in 2011.
“Representing USA Hockey as a member of Team USA has been the honor of a lifetime,” Decker said in a USA Hockey release announcing her retirement.
“Hockey has given me opportunities I could only dream of as a young kid just learning to skate. Playing hockey first started as a way to keep up with my brother’s, but turned into my life’s passion,” she added. “I’m proud to have taken the ice with so many incredible teammates, and thank them, my family and friends for their unwavering support throughout the years.”
Decker’s announcement comes 13 months after her last Olympic appearance ended abruptly when she broke her left fibula and tore ligaments in her ankle in a preliminary round-opening 5-2 win over Finland at the Beijing Games.
Her injury was considered a potential difference-maker in the U.S. failing to defend its Olympic title in losing the gold-medal game 3-2 to arch-rival Canada.
Decker finishes her national team career with 81 goals and 89 assists for 170 points in 147 career games. Her 68 career points in world championship play rank third on the U.S. list — one ahead of team captain Coyne Schofield, Kendall — and fourth with 40 assists.
“Brianna was a difference maker every time she stepped on the ice,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said. “While we’ll miss watching her play, we look forward to her continued involvement in the sport, and wish her the very best in the next chapter of life.”
Decker has already transitioned into coaching. She is currently the associate head coach and special advisor for the Shattuck-St. Mary’s girls prep school hockey program in Minnesota. Last year, she broke ranks from the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association to serve as a team and player development advisor for the rival Premier Hockey Federation.
Decker has also helped grow girls hockey around the country by funding programs through an endowment she launched in 2019.
“Over the course of my career, countless coaches made an immeasurable impact on my life both on and off the ice,” Decker said. “I look forward to helping shape the next generation of bright young hockey stars in the United States.”
Decker played college hockey at Wisconsin, where she helped the Badgers win the national championship in 2011 and, a year later, won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as women’s college hockey’s top player. She was also a two-time MVP in the National Women’s Hockey League, which has since become the PHF.