This holiday season brought us a fast paced first half and we approach 2014 with some much needed redemption in consistency. The Olympics are coming up in February; our team, consisting of members from no less than 8 countries, has already felt the impact of the games.
The first half of our UMD season was a work in progress as our wins and losses ping ponged with no particular rhyme or reason. With a large freshman class, the learning curve was furious and the young ones have immediately stepped into large roles; they are expected to perform at a more demanding rate than a usual freshman might be held responsible for.
We had our parent weekend during our first home series against the Minnesota Gophers. Although we didn’t have the most ideal outcome on the ice, we had a fun and unique opportunity to gather with parents from all over the world. Meeting one another helped us appreciate all that we have on this special team. Besides the variety in North America, having players from all over Canada, Alaska, Florida and Arizona, we are represented by many other parts of the world that include Australia, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Austria, and Switzerland. Alivia Del Basso’s Mom came all the way from Australia and Marie Delarbre’s Mom flew in from Germany. Some of these families go to great lengths to see their kids play. Our family dinner function gave us a chance to acknowledge those coming from so far away as well as the locals who often act as surrogate parents to the foreign athletes and those living far from home.
In November we had a break for Four Nations Cup where we had Tea Villila representing Team Finland. She had a great tournament that included beating Team USA to play Team Canada in the final game. Tea brought her successes back to our team to earn defensive player of the week the following weekend on our road series against Ohio State.
Prior to a couple big series’ against Wisconsin and BU, we threw in a couple weekday games against Russia’s Olympic team as they begin their preparation for the Olympics in their home county. We skated to an 8-0 victory our first game that was followed by a friendly dinner where we were all integrated and did our best to bridge the language barrier; there was a lot of laughter! Our second game was a different story. With a few injuries and lineup changes, we fell to the tenacious Russians 5-2.
As our first half came to an end we headed to Boston for a road series against Boston University. Our team once again played great and BU was a tough opponent that capitalized on the opportunities that came their way. We ended with a couple of tight loses after outshooting them in both games. These games put some fire under us approaching our final weekend of 2013 against St. Cloud State University. We finished our last series with a sweep and a feel good note heading into finals and our holiday break.
With many of our players being from out of state and country, we are lucky enough to be trusted to do what we need to do as Division I athletes at home in order to have a substantial break that most teams don’t have the luxury of getting. Everyone has been working hard at home and spending quality time with family and friends. We are already missing each other and eager to get back to it for the second half and finish strong down the home stretch.
Some of our current players are joining many alumni that have already been named to their National teams for the Olympics in Sochi, including Team Canada’s Jocelyne Larocque, Caroline Ouellette, and Hailey Irwin and Germany’s Jenny Harss. Current player Tea Villila has already been named to Team Finland while Lara Stalder (Switzerland) and Marie Delarbre (Germany) are still competing for spots in the Olympics on their national teams. Although we will be short bodies and missing these players at UMD during the Olympics, we wish them the best of luck and will be proudly cheering for them from Duluth!