At a rink close to her home in Switzerland, a much younger Alina Müller watched as a group of kids played a game on the frozen pond. It was a game she’d soon learn to call hockey. “I want to do that,” she uttered. That was the moment that changed her future.
Müller arrived at the rink for her hometown club’s practice the next day and immediately fell in love with the game. “It’s just a fast sport, and every shift you get a new opportunity, and every shift you can make up for the mistakes before,” Müller stated. She loves being part of a team and playing a sport that has more games than practice time.
In 2014, Müller suited up for Team Switzerland for the first time in the Sochi Olympic Games. She took home the bronze medal. In the nine years since, she has continued to play for the Swiss National Team with no plans on stopping.
The biggest test in international hockey is playing USA or Canada. “It’s always a great learning lesson when we play Team USA or Team Canada. They’re just so much faster, so much stronger,” said Müller. She welcomes the challenge, though, and loves playing them. “I take pride in playing defensively and not getting scored on. That’s what I mostly focus on when I play them.” Last Olympics, Müller, along with Swiss teammate Lara Stalder, combined to score 3 goals against Team Canada, marking the first time Team Switzerland scored against either USA or Canada in a game.
While Müller plays for Team Switzerland abroad, in the U.S., she aims for the NCAA National Championship in her fifth and final year as a Northeastern University Husky. “The season is going really well. We had a big freshman class come in. They had to adapt to the college game and learn our systems, but they bought in since day one, and now we’re all on the same page and [are getting] better every day,” said Müller.
At this point in the season, as the Hockey East and the NCAA tournaments approach, Northeastern’s practices are shorter, focusing more on building chemistry and mastering their systems and less on improving skill. “We do some special teams—[penalty kill] and powerplay—watch a lot of film of other teams and of us, and still tweak some things,” said Müller.
Before Müller takes the ice, she thinks about the people she loves the most before every game and says thanks that she can be where she is, and she focuses on playing freely and enjoying the game. She prepares for every match as if it’s a championship game, doing the same warm up routine on and off the ice so that when it comes time to play for the national championship, it’s nothing new for her. “I try to prepare seriously, take care of my body and my mind every day so I’m ready for whatever is coming,” Müller said.
Müller’s work ethic and leadership skills have earned her the captaincy at Northeastern (and an “A” for Team Switzerland). She is honored to be able to wear the “C”, and she takes pride in shouldering the responsibility placed on her while it rests on her jersey. She understands she represents a lot of great players, alumni, and the school. “It’s very special to put that jersey on. I know people on the team and just people watching look up to me. I do my best to represent the school in the best way possible,” she said. “I just try to be myself and lead by example.”
After her one last quest for the NCAA National Championship (a title that has eluded her during her tenure at Northeastern), Müller hopes to play in a U.S. professional league. “I’m just going to take it day by day. I know there will be something cool coming for me. I’m just going to keep working hard, keep believing in [myself], and we will see where I end up next season,” she said. Whether it’s the Professional Hockey Federation or the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (who plan to have a full season next year), she would most likely be near the top of the radar to be signed as one of the best players in the game today.
Müller’s favorite player is Marie-Philip Poulin, arguably the best player in the world. She loves to watch Poulin play, from her outstanding defensive abilities to her incredible offensive prowess. “[Poulin] is insane. She is very strong, her shot is unreal, and her playmaking abilities are great,” said Müller. She dreams of one day playing alongside Poulin. If she’s drafted into a professional league later this year, that dream could become reality.
From winning the National Championship to taking home medals with Team Switzerland and playing professionally, Müller has set some lofty goals for herself. If her career has proven anything, however, it’s that if Müller sets her eyes on a goal, she’s going to score.
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated
Featured image obtained from: Northeastern University