The United States' women’s ice hockey team have started their preparations for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
A group of 23 players and national team staff have gathered at Florida Hospital Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, part of the Tampa Bay Area, to begin training.
The squad features 21 members of the team who claimed the World Championships title earlier this year, while 12 are survivors from the Sochi 2014 Olympic silver medal winning side.
“Basically, it’s an opportunity to bring all of our players and staff on our national team together to begin training and preparation for the Olympic Games,” said Reagan Carey, USA Hockey’s director of women’s hockey and general manager of the Pyeongchang 2018 women's team.
“We picked this 23 with the intent of this being the team we’re looking to take to the Olympics.
“But at the same time, it’s a long time between now and December or January.
“We have a pretty detailed process, and it’s not anything you can rush.
“We’ll have a decent amount of international competition leading to the Olympics and some checkpoints to measure progress.”
The Olympic squad is expected to be confirmed on or around January 1.
As part of their preparations, the US will face Canada in three stand-alone matches, as well as competing in the Four Nations Cup tournament.
They will begin their tour with a tie against Canada at the Agganis Arena in Boston on October 25, where they will hope to repeat their triumph against their opponents in this year’s World Championship final.
Their participation at the annual Four Nations Cup tournament will begin with a match against Finland at the Florida Hospital Center Ice on November 7.
A match with Canada will take place the following day at the same venue, with the round-robin phase concluding against Sweden on November 10.
The United States will then compete in either the final or third-place playoff at the AMALIE Arena in Florida two days later.
American hopes will be high as they seek to win the tournament for the third consecutive year and eighth time in total.
The tour will conclude with two further matches against North American rivals Canada.
The first will take place at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota on December 3, with the teams then set to meet again on December 15 at the SAP Center in California.
During their time so far in Wesley Chapel, the team has visited an evacuation centre after Hurricane Irma passed through Florida.
“It turned out to be a time to get to know one another better, to bond, to have some friendly competition, just not in the same way we normally would,” Carey added.