People Staff
February 13, 2006 12:00 PM

ANGELA RUGGIERO defenseman

KATIE KING forward

JULIE CHU forward

JENNY POTTER forward

NATALIE DARWITZ forward

KRISSY WENDELL forward, captain

CHANDA GUNN goalie

KELLY STEPHENS forward

WHY YOU’LL WATCH THEM: “A lot of people assume we’re just large women who beat each other up,” says defense man Angela Ruggiero, 26, who points out there’s no checking in women’s hockey. “In reality, women’s hockey is more a fluid, finesse game.” This edition is younger, faster and stronger than the team that lost the gold medal game to archrival Canada in 2002.

MORE KEY GENDER DIFFERENCES : “People aren’t really used to us having long blonde hair and all our teeth,” says forward Natalie Darwitz, 22.

CREDIT CARD ROULETTE : About once a month when eating out, “everyone orders what they want,” says Ruggiero. “Then everyone throws their credit card into a basket. Last card drawn out has to pay the whole bill. One of the rookies had to pay like $550 when we went to a steak house.”

WORSE THAN HELMET HAIR: Darwitz recalls trying out as a 10-year-old for the otherwise all-boys team in Eagan, Minn. “During a scrimmage, all of a sudden my breezers [hockey pants] fell down,” she says. “Then the puck came. I can’t move and all the guys are laughing.” She made the team anyway.

FRINGE BENEFIT: “I’ve gotten to meet some incredible Olympians,” says forward Julie Chu, 23. “And some are pretty good-looking and … I’ll leave it at that.”

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