International Ice Hockey Federation

Kessels go for double gold

Kessels go for double gold

Amanda and Phil make winning a family affair

Published 19.02.2014 18:31 GMT+4 | Author Martin Merk
Kessels go for double gold
American players Phil and Amanda Kessel have realistic chances to win Olympic gold in Sochi 2014. Photos: Jeff Vinnick, Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
American players Amanda and Phil Kessel could become the first brother-sister pair to both win gold in Olympic ice hockey.

The Kessels from Madison, Wisconsin, are only the second brother-sister combo in ice hockey to participate in the same Olympics after Tina and Tobias Enstrom for Sweden in Vancouver 2010 – and both have been doing well so far.

Amanda Kessel will play in tomorrow’s gold medal game of the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament against Canada. Although one of the younger and less experienced players, the 22-year-old leads her team in scoring with six points (3+3). Only Finland’s Michelle Karvinen had more goals and points than the forward from the University of Minnesota.

There are no complaints about Phil Kessel’s performance either. Before today’s quarter-finals, the 26-year-old forward of the Toronto Maple Leafs leads the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament in scoring with seven points (3+4) from four games. Tonight Team USA will play the Czech Republic. Phil Kessel’s team is two wins away from getting a shot in the gold medal game on the men’s side.

“I saw my brother score a hat-trick in the 5-1 win against Slovenia – and that was awesome," Amanda said after scoring in her team’s 6-1 semi-final win against Sweden. “It was an inspiration to me. He's my favourite player.

“There is definitely room for two gold medals in the family. I guess we would have to keep them in a safe somewhere if we both win gold.”

“I’m playing with some great players who help you along. Slovenia was a tough team, they battled hard and they have some skills,” Phil Kessel said about his hat trick performance. “It’s not about me, it’s about the win. We can still improve more and we have to get a lot better.”

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The Kessels come from an athletic family. Their father, Phil Kessel Sr, was a football player drafted by the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Amanda and Phil have another brother, Brian, who played in the 2009 World Juniors and is currently with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. Their cousin David Moss of the Phoenix Coyotes represented the United States in two IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships, most recently last spring.

Also the elder brother is following his sister in Sochi. He saw her in action against Canada in a 2-3 preliminary round reverse, and was impressed with the game.

“It was pretty back and forth and fast-paced. It was a good game to watch and they will have to progress as the tournament goes on,” Phil Kessel said. “I try and help her when I can.”

Phil Kessel went through USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and has already won several medals and honours: Olympic silver, U18 gold, U18 silver, best U18 forward in 2005, scoring leader at the 2005 U18 and 2006 U20. Like his younger sister and his younger brother, he played one year for the University of Minnesota before moving on to the NHL.

He has been the Toronto Maple Leafs scoring leader since ever he joined the team in a trade in 2009. With 65 points in 60 games he’s challenging the 82 points he had at the end of the 2011/2012 season.

While Kessel’s participation seemed to be carved in stone, Amanda Kessel had to battle an injury to make it to Sochi.

In 2012 she underwent surgery for a torn labrum and still suffered hip problems earlier in the season. She missed the exhibition games against Canada and college teams to recover and joined the team only in January.

The 22-year-old player, who scored the game-winning goal in the gold medal game of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, was welcomed with open arms for her third big event with the senior national team after two Women’s World Championships including one gold (2013) and one silver medal (2012).

“It was a formidable team effort,” Amanda Kessel said about beating Sweden in the semi-finals. “That’s been our focus all along. When we get it right, like we did, it is difficult for anyone to play against us. That's what we have worked for.”

One day after her brother battles in the quarter-finals, Amanda Kessel will play for gold against Canada tomorrow. Can the Americans avenge the preliminary-round loss in the game that matters most for the archrivals?

“The loss hurt. They didn’t get to see how we can play,” Kessel promised.


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