COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Former NHL goalie Robb Stauber will coach the U.S. women's hockey team at the world championships, which start March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity and continue what we've all been working toward with a talented group of players," Stauber said. "It's a great honor to represent USA Hockey in this capacity and defend our gold medal from the past few years."

Former NHL defenseman Ken Klee coached the Americans to victories at the last two world championships, but he was replaced by Stauber for a pair of exhibitions against Canada in December.

"We look forward to having Robb continue leading our team at the world championship," Reagan Carey, director of women's hockey, said in a statement Monday. "We have a strong coaching staff overall and I know everyone is excited about the challenge ahead, particularly the chance to defend our gold medal on home ice."

Also on the coaching staff are associate coach Brett Strot, assistant coaches Paul Mara and Chris Tamer, and goaltending coach Mike Richter.

The players for the worlds will be announced Tuesday.

The U.S. is the three-time defending world champion and has played Canada for the gold medal in all 17 of the previous events. But the Americans have not won a gold medal in the Winter Games since 1998, the first year the sport was in the Olympics

Following an overtime loss to Canada in the gold medal game at the 2014 Olympics, USA Hockey decided to name the women's team coach for individual events, rather than a longer term.

Carey has said the coach for the Four Nations Cup next winter and the 2018 Olympics in South Korea would be appointed after the world championships.

Stauber, who played in 62 NHL games over four seasons with two teams, has been involved with the women's national team since 2010 and was the goaltenders coach for the team that won the silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Games.

He was the coach of the Minnesota Whitecaps, an independent professional women's team, for one season.

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