With a glowing smile and a vigorous enthusiasm, Becky Dobson embodies of the potential for a new generation of American-bred ball hockey stars. Among the key offensive producers for an ambitious US team that competed at the 2017 ISBHF Worlds, Dobson’s efforts brought with it some of the most uplifting performances.
Finishing among the tournament’s top 20 scorers, the pride of Glenside, Pennsylvania, holds an amazing background in field hockey, spanning a decade and a half. In 2013, Dobson experienced her finest hour as an ice hockey player, leading West Chester to their first-ever ACHA national championship. Scoring an astounding 63 goals during the season, tournament MVP honors, where she found the back of the net 15 times, complemented her First-Team All-America status.
Logging two assists in a 3-1 win against Slovakia, Dobson’s magnificent playmaking skills augmented the US attack on offense. With both assists credited on goals scored by Lian Dixon, including the game-winning tally, it provided the US with a 2-0 start in the round robin.
“It was very exciting to get that win and having a couple assists made it all the more special. That was probably one of our best team wins of the entire tournament- everyone came to play that game. I think that was USA’s first time beating Slovakia too, so it definitely gave us some confidence going forward for our games vs. Czech and Canada.
Following such a transcendent display of offensive brilliance, Dobson assembled another fascinating performance against a medal contender. Scoring the game-winning goal against defending champion Canada in a 3-2 come from behind semi-final win, it assured the US of its first-ever podium finish.
With just 34 seconds remaining, an intense 2-2 final saw Dobson launch a laser beam past goaltender Kristen Suglyama as she scored from the faceoff circle. Tiffany Pfundt and Lindsay Wilde gained the assists on what was truly the biggest goal in the history of the US team. The meaning of that goal was magnified by the fact that it was the first time that the US qualified for the gold medal game. Fittingly, Dobson was recognized for her heroic efforts as the Player of the Game for the US.
Taking into account that the goal irrevocably affected the balance of power at the tournament, it was also an affirmation of Dobson’s status as one of the tournament’s prime time players. In reflecting on the jubilation of such a historic goal, Dobson’s devotion to her team definitely shines, while convincingly describing the sensation of winning the game with one definitive word,
“Crazy! I did not even know how much time was left in the game when I scored that goal, then I look up and there’s only 34 seconds left…I’m like, ‘wow, we can win this.’ Our team showed such strength and resilience that game, it was really exciting and special to be apart of.
Scoring the winning goal was great, but it was a complete team effort. I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, get a great pass from my winger, Tiff Pfundt, and have an opportunity to take that shot, luckily it beat the goalie.”
While the game-winning goal against Canada shall always be a personal identifier, providing memories to hold onto, Dobson was proud to be part of something bigger. Getting the chance to compete in the gold medal game represented more than a milestone for Dobson. The show of support from friends and family via social media, complemented by the attendance of members from the US men’s team as they took on the Czech Republic in the final, exemplified the importance of their journey,
“It was really special to put on that Team USA jersey each game and represent our country. Winning the silver medal made it all the more meaningful.
So many people supported us to get to where we were, I could thank hundreds of people for the support they showed and donations they made, watching the live feed of the games, texting and writing support on facebook, the men’s team and some family members coming to our games.
The silver finish was bittersweet in the moment because I wanted to win gold so bad, however, looking back on the experience and all of those people who supported us made it such an amazing accomplishment.”
Dobson’s odyssey also involved a pair of seminal moments. At the 2017 North American Ball Hockey Championships, she was part of the Women’s Division A champions as the Atlantic Crush bested the London Norstars in a 2-0 final. Recognized with Tournament MVP honors, it set the tone for the glories to follow in Pardubice, while continuing to add to her amazing list of achievements in her career.
In September 2016, Dobson was also part of the USA Happy Endings team that played in the World Outdoor Ball Hockey Championships in Barrie, Ontario. Qualifying for the gold medal team, Dobson was a key contributor in the team’s heroics.
Enjoying a 4-0 mark in round robin play, Dobson scored twice, tying with Blake Blomdahl and Lindsey Bitler for the team lead. With the semifinals going to a shootout, it was Dobson who scored the winning goal, adding to her mythology. Although the London Nortstars prevailed by a 1-0 final, with Alessandra Glista providing a valiant performance for USA Happy Endings, the tournament truly marked the turning point for the national team.
As Dobson emphasizes, the US national team was actually split into two teams in Barrie, Ontario. One team consisted of Happy Endings, while the other was USA Girls on Top, both named after the Women’s “A” champions at the 2015 and 2016 North American Ball Hockey Championships. Cherie Stewart was the leading scorer for Girls on Top, who competed in the B bracket. Transforming the team’s confidence while the players gelled, the chemistry was evident in Pardubice.
“In Barrie, our USA team was split in half so we only got to play with some of each other. However, the bonding we shared during the trip marked the beginning of an awesome journey together where we became so much more than just a team on the court, but a family off the court making strong friendships with one another. I believe that being close off the court and trusting and liking each other is a huge component of a winning and successful team”
Earlier in 2017, the United Women’s Ball Hockey Foundation hosted an event in Dracut, Massachusetts known as Springfest. With tournaments featuring Women A and B players, there was also a Novice Tournament, including a clinic.
The highlight of Springfest saw national team players such as Dobson gain the opportunity to give back to the game, taking on the role of ambassadors. A “Play with the USA” prospects game saw stars such as Dobson compete with girls aged 10-15 in an exhibition game. With photos and autographs enhancing the excitement of such an event, it represented more than just a fun event for Dobson and her fellow national team competitors. It was a chance to be reminded of why they play, and the future that they aspire to build,
“Yes, it’s always very cool to see younger players and help the sport grow. When I was younger, playing ice hockey, I was used to being the only girl on my team with a bunch of boys. It is really nice to see how much the sport has grown already and that there are more opportunities for younger players to get involved.”
”All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Daniel Soucek, ASHI