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The U.S. Women’s National Team and USA Hockey reached a contract agreement on Tuesday, just in time to avert a boycott of the 2017 International Ice Hockey World Championship in Plymouth, Michigan.

The agreement which will help to provide groundbreaking support for women’s hockey over the next four years, helps to provide the fans with the opportunity to watch Team USA defend their 2016 IIHF World Championship gold medal on home ice. The 2017 tournament begins Friday March 31 at the USA Hockey Arena in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth.

Team USA will face off against the Canadian National Team at 7:30 PM to open the tournament on Friday. NHL Network will televise the game. Team USA will hold their first official practice at the USA Hockey Arena, on Thursday, March 30 at 3:30 PM.

Jim Smith, President of USA Hockey said, “Today reflects everyone coming together and compromising in order to reach a resolution for the betterment of the sport. We will now move forward together knowing we will look back on this day as one of the most positive in the history of USA Hockey.”

Team captain, Meghan Duggan added, “Our sport is the big winner today. We stood up for what was right, and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end both sides came together. I am proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It is time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try to defend our gold medal.”

The agreement ended 15 months of negotiations. Dave Ogrean, Executive Director of USA Hockey said, “We look forward to the future with great anticipation. This process, has in the end, made us better.”

Team USA veteran forward, Hilary Knight added, “I am glad we can come together and reach an agreement that will have a positive and lasting impact. This is an inspirational time and we are excited to get back on the ice and represent our country.”

USA Hockey treasurer, Donna Guariglia, who was also the former chair of the women’s and girls’ section of USA Hockey also added, “The action taken today is an important statement of USA Hockey’s commitment and support of our women’s national team program and female hockey overall.”

While both sides agreed to keep the financial terms of the deal between themselves, it does include the formation of a Women’s High Performance Advisory Group made up of former and current members of the national team, along with volunteer and staff leadership.

The group will meet regularly to assist USA Hockey in all their efforts to advance the girls’ and women’s game, in the areas of programming, marketing, promotion and fundraising. This is in addition to the grassroots hockey areas that the volunteers of the USA Hockey girls’ and women’s programs have done over the past 30 years.

Many of the players of the national team tweeted messages of support and thanks to their fans following the announcement between the two sides. Prior to the deal the players were shown support from other athletes and fans across social media, with the hashtag, #BeBoldforChange.

The four major sports leagues’ players’ associations, (NHLPA, MLBPA, NFLPA & NBPA) as well as the National Women’s Hockey League, sent their support to the 23 players on Team USA.

Miracle on Ice hero, Mike Eruzioni, as well as members of the United States Senate showed their support the women of Team USA. The US Men’s team were prepared to boycott their World Championship in May, standing in solidarity with the US Women’s Team.

The IIHF Women’s World Championship takes place every year, during non-Olympic years, to determine the world champion in women’s senior hockey. Play consists of two pools with four teams each. The four teams in Pool A, along with the top two from Pool B advance to a playoff bracket.

The 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Plymouth, will include teams from USA, Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Germany.

For more information on tickets, which can be purchased in All-Tournament Passes, Ticket Packages or Single Games, can be found at http://www.2017womensworlds.com/page/show/2297697-tickets.

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