Having carved a tremendous hockey career in North America, Cherie Hendrickson is competing in another corner of the world for 2013-14. Brining her game to Russia, she is truly in the center of the sporting world as the world’s finest athletes shall pour into the resort town of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games in February.
As a solid stay at home defender and one of the friendliest personalities in hockey, Hendrickson was a key member of the Boston Blades defensive unit that captured the franchises’ first Clarkson Cup in March 2013. Spending her off-seasons participating in triathlons and long distance running (of note, she competed in the Boston Marathon); Hendrickson is a highly conditioned and committed athlete whose efforts show on the ice.
This effort and commitment is now paying benefits for the famed women’s hockey franchise of Tornado Moscow, who have captured the IIHF European Championship Cups in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Ironically, the opportunity came as a complete coincidence as one of her fellow Blades teammates was initially approached.
“Russia has been quite the experience so far. I was not looking to play overseas this year, but Kelley Steadman from the Blades was offered a spot on the team and they were also looking for a defenseman so she passed along the information to me. After much discussion with both Kelley and my parents, we decided to take the plunge together and sign with the team.”
While she has put her career and life in Massachusetts on hold, the opportunity to compete in another part of the world shall provide Hendrickson with a lifetime of experiences. One of the first for Hendrickson was the opportunity to see the running of the Sochi Winter Games Torch down the street from her residence.
“I could not pass up an opportunity to play hockey for a living while getting to explore a new country and see some of Europe as well. We are playing for the Tornado Moscow Region in the Russian Women’s Championship league.”
Of note, one of her new teammates on Tornado Moscow is high scoring Iya Gavrilova. Having spent the last few seasons playing alongside Hayley Wickenheiser with the University of Calgary, Gavrilova should benefit from Hendrickson’s strong presence on the blueline.
While an adjustment period comes with getting used to a new culture and a different language, there also comes the task of adapting to a different style of hockey. With the accompaniment of her teammate and friend Kelley Steadman, along with the presence of Gavrilova, it should be an adjustment that will ensure Hendrickson emerges as one of the club’s defensive stalwarts.
“The play is quite different than North American hockey and I’m still getting adjusted to how the systems work here. There is a lot more emphasis on the passing and finesse game that is typical of European hockey, and much less physicality and shorter passing play that are fundamentals in the US and Canada.”
Boston Blades photo credit: http://nshoremag.com/office/#sthash.dU5xoQKq.dpbs