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Decker moves closer to Olympic dream


DOUSMAN, Wis. – In 2002, Dousman Elementary School was celebrating the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City with class activities and competitions when fifth-grader Brianna Decker approached one of her teachers and made a bold prediction.

“She said, ‘Mrs. Kreif, someday that’s going to be me. I’m going to play for the U.S. women’s hockey team in the Olympics,’ ” Christine Kreif said.

On Tuesday, Decker was back at Dousman Elementary – wearing her No. 14 Team USA jersey – for a pep rally and question-and-answer session with the students.

Decker, 22, hasn’t officially made good on that promise she made nearly 11 years ago because the U.S. women’s hockey team for the Sochi Winter Games won’t be named until Jan. 1. Four more players will be trimmed from the 25 training in Boston to reach the Olympic roster of 21.

But Decker, a four-year star at the University of Wisconsin and the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner as the top player in the nation, is all but a lock to make the team.

“There’s still cuts to be made and you never know what the coaches’ decisions are going to be,” Decker said. “But I’m hoping to be on that roster.”

In April, the 5-foot-4, 148-pound center led Team USA to its fifth IIHF Women’s World Championship title. She was the team’s leading scorer with six goals and two assists in five games and scored a goal in the final, a 3-2 victory over archrival Canada.

Earlier this month, she had a goal and four assists in three games as Team USA finished a disappointing third at the Four Nations Cup.

The Americans lost to Canada 4-2, then were upset by Finland 3-1, before bouncing back to beat Sweden 8-1.

“I think we’re a work in progress,” Decker said. “It’s still early. We didn’t get what we wanted at Four Nations, but there’s a lot of time left.”

Decker started skating at age 3 and started playing hockey a year later with older brothers Bryan and Ben. She competed primarily with and against boys growing up.

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