Herborg Rut Geirsdottir: Icelandic Girls Ready to Take Gold Next Year

Photo taken by: Mats Bekkevold

Herborg Rut Geirsdottir is a 16 years old Icelandic girl who loves ice hockey. She works hard every day to improve her players skills. She lived in Iceland with her family until 2012, when they moved to Norway. They wanted to try something new; her parents got new job offers, and Herborg and her older sister got a chance to play better hockey on the new club.

Herborg’s days start with school classes, and in the afternoon she usually does her homework, goes out with her dog, and has hockey practice. If she doesn’t have a game during the weekend, she works at a store called Flying Tiger of Copenhagen, or she will have some practice.

Herborg Rut Geirsdottir

HOCKEY, SHOPPING  AND HANGING OUT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Herborg is in a relationship with an amazing girl she met at the last World Championship. Although her girlfriend lives and plays in another country, they meet as often as they can. They are coming up on celebrating their first anniversary.

Besides hockey, Herborg loves to go shopping. She is also very interested in other sports. Her favorite soccer team is Liverpool and she also enjoys watching NHL games. She doesn’t have so much free time, but when she does, she likes to spend it with her family and friends.

‘My family was the main reason I started playing hockey.”

A HOCKEY FAMILY

I started playing hockey at the age of 5 or 6. My father has been also playing hockey for many years, as well as my older sister. Practically, my family was the main reason why I also started playing it. My friends were always very supportive of me and thought it was cool, but for me it was a bit hard not having them with me. I was often alone, and I didn’t have many friends on my team, although my teammates were really kind and friendly. Many of them are still my friends today. But, in those days I used to be very shy and not the best at opening up and starting a conversation.

THE BIG CHANGES ARE NEVER EASY

I grew up in a small Iceland town called Akureyri. It was also the place where I started practicing hockey, on the Skautafelag Akureyrar (SA) team. I had played there for several years,  until I moved to Norway in 2012.

So, currently I live in Norwegian town Fredrikstad, just 20 minutes away from the rink where I practice and play hockey. I am a member of the Sparta Warriors hockey team, along with my sister.

‘Currently, I am the captain of the A women’s team, and I’m very proud of it.”

I’M VERY PROUD OF BEING A CAPTAIN OF MY TEAM

A few years ago I played also for the Stjernen U15 and U16 team. But there I played with the boys, and didn’t get so well with the teams and coaches, so I decided to  come back to my previous club, Sparta. Currently I am the captain of the A women’s team, and I’m very proud of it. We compete in the highest Norwegian hockey league, the Elite Series, as well as play every season at the Norwegian Championship.

I’ve also played in the Regional team. For those who are not familiar with it, this is a team where girls from each region try out for the team and then play against other regions. I started playing there at the age of 12, the youngest age possible. This year was my last one.

‘We’re ready to take gold at the next World Championship.” Photo taken by: Mats Bekkevold

THE ICELANDIC TEAM – A GREAT FAMILY THAT WORKS TOGETHER

I’ve had a great honor to represent my country by playing for the senior Icelandic national women’s hockey team. I played my first games at the World Championship when I was 15, in 2017.

A few months ago, I also played for Iceland at the Worlds in Spain. Our team worked so hard, and we came with the great ambitions. Despite losing our head coach just 3 days before the Tournament, I think we did an awesome job.  Instead of being angry and disappointed, we chose to be focused on the game. Our new coach didn’t know how we played, but he did a great job, and helped  us in the best way he could. I still think we deserved to win the Tournament, but some things don’t always go our ways. The Icelandic team is a great family that works together. We’re ready to take the gold medal next year

‘The Icelandic hockey team is a great family that works together.”

THE MOMENTS I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER

One of my favorite memories I’ve had while playing hockey was playing with the national team. For two weeks, I was inside my own world, and the only important thing was hockey, and nothing but hockey. The feeling before a game was very  special. I was nervous and shaking but also happy and enjoying it in every way.

I also remember a moment that happened recently, when I had been chosen to be in  on the All-Star Team. The best players were selected by the other teams of the Regional tournament, and I was so honored to be chosen as one. I was so surprised and so happy, it’s indescribable.

GOING BACK TO REALITY WAS PRETTY TOUGH

However, I remember leaving home to Norway after Worlds. Going back to reality was pretty tough. School, work, family and everyday life was awaiting me. The first weeks after coming home were very tough and hard for me. I was very emotional and had a hard time concentrating. I missed the team, the hockey and my teammates from Iceland. It’s always hard to leave them after having so much fun and time spent together.

‘It’s always hard to leave the team after so many time spent together”.

I REALLY LIKE THE PATH I’M ON NOW

I wouldn’t change anything in my past even if I had the chance. I really like the path I’m on now. Definitely, I wouldn’t be where I am now if it hadn’t passed through all my ups and downs, my mistakes and my achievements.

My future plans are just to work on my on and off ice skills, and to go as far as I possibly can as a hockey player. I hope I will keep on practicing as hard as I can and  try to become the best version of myself. I will keep fighting and being crazy on the ice. I won’t stop until I’ve made my highest possible level.

Chelsey Goldberg: Contract with Boston Blades – One of My Best Life Decisions

Chelsey Goldberg is a 25 year American professional hockey player. She was born and raised in Agoura Hills, California. Currently she’s living in Boston, pursuing her dreams of playing professional hockey. Chelsey used to play Division 1 college hockey at Northeastern University, also in Boston, for four years. After graduating, she decided to stay at NU and pursue a Masters degree. Furthermore, she signed a two-year professional hockey contract with the Boston Blades, in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. For her, it was one of the best decisions of her life.

Chelsey Goldberg

HOCKEY TAUGHT ME MANY LIFE LESSONS

Up until this past December (2017), she was working as an event manager at the University while she was completing her Masters Degree. Goldberg has recently graduated from her program, so she’s currently working on starting her own business. Her hockey career has not been easy by any means, but it has certainly taught her many life lessons and made her into a stronger and better person along the way. Therefore, her goal is to continue to help others, who may be facing adversity. This young lady would like to serve as a mentor, life coach, and/or motivational speaker to those who may be seeking help or advice.

LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST

In her free time Chelsey enjoys hanging out and catching up with friends, family, and her dogs. When the sun is shining, the beach is always calling her name. Most of her time outside of hockey or work involves the outdoors, hiking, finding a lake/pool, water sports, snowboarding in the winter. She adores just spending time with the most important people in her life.

She’s the one who makes memories and celebrates life.

FROM CALIFORNIA TO VERMONT

I started playing hockey at the age of 10. My mother was a swimmer, and my two older siblings (brother and sister) were soccer players. My twin brother and I played the typical California sports (soccer, lacrosse, swim, etc) growing up. Then we discovered roller hockey with some of our best friends. We were 10 years old when we attempted roller hockey. Two years after, we switched to play ice hockey, for the Ventura Mariners. I played guys hockey for a few years before switching to the girls side. Then I played with the LA Selects, Anaheim Lady Ducks, North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vermont, and eventually the Northeastern University Huskies in Boston, Massachusetts.

‘If you’re overcoming an injury, you’re not alone. It’s all part of the journey.”

THE EXPOSURE THAT EACH OF US WAS GIVEN WAS INCREDIBLE

I decided to move across country to Vermont for my junior and senior year of high school. I was offered a spot to play on one of most elite and competitive women’s hockey team in the country. It definitely took my game to another, higher level. We traveled to play at least four or five games every weekend, and the exposure that each of us was given was absolutely incredible. North American Hockey Academy and the Junior Women’s Hockey League no doubt helped me commit to Northeastern University. It also allowed me to successfully achieve my dream of playing college hockey. And, I am currently playing professional hockey for the Boston Blades in the CWHL.

While all completely worth it, the journey was not easy.

‘If I could take all my past problems back or do anything differently, I would do it all over again.”

DON’T LET ANYTHING STAND IN YOUR WAY

I happened to break both of my legs while I was in Vermont. My first fibula broke my junior year of high school, and my second fibula (almost a year to the day) broke my senior year, both playing the game that I love at one of the highest levels. I was out of competition for four years in a row, so junior year at NU was my first year being able to play again, and those years were truly some of the most difficult years of my life.

WHEN LIFE THROWS CHALLENGES AT YOU, JUST KEEP IN MIND THERE IS A REASON FOR THE ADVERSITY

My coaches, teammates, family, and friends helped me stay strong and believe that I would come back even faster, stronger and better. Fortunately I had already committed to play College Hockey at Northeastern University and my coach honored my scholarship. But, there were many life lessons to be learned. One of the most important ones that I can share is to never give up. When life throws challenges at you, just keep in mind there is a reason for the adversity. It will only make you a stronger and better person in the end. If I could take all my past problems back or do anything differently, I would do it all over again.

‘I’m a big believer in living in the present moment.”

MY GREATEST HOCKEY MEMORY – WINNING THE BEANPOT CHAMPIONSHIP

My best hockey memories have no doubt been shared with my amazing teammates and friends that I have met along the way. One of the greatest aspects to this game has been the people that have come and continue to make an impact in my life. Some of my life long friends have been made through hockey, and even becoming friends with opponents along the way makes the game so much more fun and enjoyable as well.

However, winning the Beanpot Championship, two years in a row while I was at Northeastern University is still one of my greatest hockey memories. For those of you who are not aware, the Beanpot Tournament is one of the biggest tournaments throughout college hockey, on both the men and women’s side. Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern University compete in a series to claim bragging rights as “Boston’s best team”. Hundreds to thousands of people come to cheer on their favorite team.

We happened to win my freshman and sophomore year. So, that was no doubt one of the coolest experiences to be a part of.

‘Believe in yourself, work hard and never give up!”

I’M A BIG BELIEVER IN LIVING IN THE PRESENT  MOMENT

Looking ahead isn’t much of a specialty of mine. I’m a big believer in living in the moment, and whatever life has in store for you will work itself out. My future right now consists of continuing to play hockey at the professional level. I’m also planning to continue growing my business and helping as many people as I can, being the best version of myself to others. I want to travel more, and I will eventually be moving back home to California.

My message to young players is to always have fun, before anything. If you’re not having fun, why are you playing? If you are facing adversity, overcoming an injury, or not sure how to deal with a difficult life situation or decision, you’re not alone and it’s all part of the journey. So, I would say trust the process and if you continue to believe in yourself, work hard and never give up, then whatever is meant to be will happen.

Alexandra Ali Austin: Hockey Was and Is Love of my Life and I Miss It Every Day!

Alexandra Austin is the person you love as soon as you meet her. She has a warm smile in her eyes, and her choice of words reflects a very emotional and kind person who likes to help people. This 23 years old American is a former hockey player, currently living in Boston, Massachusetts. She is working as a clinical research coordinator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Crohn’s and Colitis Center. Her job is to help the doctors there that she works with to  run clinical studies. Ali also works to combat Inflammatory Bowel Disease and all of the awful symptoms that go with it.

Her parents still live in Minnesota, where they are all from, but visit often. Ali’s two younger brothers are playing hockey out East – one is a senior at the University of Connecticut, and the other is a freshman at Colgate University. They are both doing exceedingly well and hope to play in the NHL someday.

Alexandra Austin

 AN EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL GIRL – INSIDE AND OUT

Beside hockey, Alexandra loves to play music and she’s taught herself guitar. This precious girl sings and occasionally writes songs and loves to play piano. Besides that, she also loves hiking and being active outside. She hopes to one day soon become a personal trainer.

Ali’s former teammates love her above all for being a good friend, always dedicated to the team. For them, she is an unbelievably talented singer, and they gladly remember  how she sung the national anthem before their home games at Yale. They respect her good hockey IQ sense, and her continuous hard work on improving her skills. They see Ali as an ambitious young lady who has had to work so hard for everything she’d achieved. She has never given up even though her college career wasn’t kind to her. But they are completely sure Ali will be a great doctor one day, and can’t wait to see what else the future holds for her. For majority of them Ali is an extremely beautiful girl – inside and out

The majority of her friends and teammates loves her above all for being a good friend, dedicated to the team.

 BUT IN THE END IT WAS ALL COMPLETELY WORTH IT

I started playing when I was 5. My parents put me in figure skating lessons, but I used to sneak off the ice and go watch the hockey players on the other sheet. That was the reason my parents signed me up to play on my brother’s team. My mom and dad were happy that my brother and I were doing the same thing, so it was less of a crazy time commitment for them. I’d say my friends thought it was a little weird for me being a hockey player. Growing up, I played each season on boys teams until 8th grade. They thought it was weird to spend so much time doing it and I know their parents thought mine were crazy for making us go so often. But in the end it was all completely worth it.

Ali Austin with her family.

THE EMOTION I’LL NEVER FORGET

I’ve been so blessed to play for many hockey teams and have amazing experiences doing it. One of my favorite memories is of losing in the championship game of the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament in 2011 whil I was playing for the Edina Hornets. Almost my whole school was there cheering us on, since the school bussed them to the arena. We were playing where the Minnesota Wild play, which was amazing in itself.  My classmates had signs and got really into the cheers and everything. It was such a unique experience that made me really feel like I was a vital part of the community. We lost, so it was extremely tough at the time and it’s still hard to look back on. But the emotion it brought out of me is something I’ll never forget.

‘Hockey has empowered me to push myself in every aspect of my life.”

THE BONDS I FORGED WITH THOSE GIRLS ARE WHAT MATTERS TO ME NOW

We were a bit of a dream team and we had so many D1 commits (D1 refers to Division 1, a class of sport within college hockey in the US. It is the highest level of college hockey in the US). We lost in the last minute of the championship game against Minnetonka high school. I’d never before felt so angry and frustrated. I made the all tournament team and they made us take a picture and I’ve never seen myself look so angry. I laugh every time I see it now. But the bonds I forged with those girls and the overall experience are what matters to me now, not necessarily that we lost the game.

Many of her former teammates have become her life friends.

HOCKEY WAS AND IS THE LOVE OF MY LIFE. I MISS IT EVERY DAY

The worst thing that happened to me because of hockey were my injuries. I got a very bad concussion my freshman year of college. That took me out of hockey for a year, and school for a semester. Unfortunately, it ended up precipitating the end of my career. Honestly, I’ve never had to do something so hard as stopping hockey. It was and is the love of my life and I miss it every day. I can’t even watch a hockey game today without feeling a little sad that it’s not me out there. It just makes me look forward to when I have kids and when I’ll get to help them through their hockey careers. That’ll be almost as good if not better than going through it myself

‘I can’t even watch a hockey game today without feeling a little sad that it’s not me out there.” – Ali with her Yale teammates and friends.

HOW YALE STUDENTS BECAME CONFECTIONERS

There are so many dear memories of hockey, that sometimes I lose count. One of my best life friends, a Swiss Olympian Phoebe Staenz and I used to prank each other a lot during our time playing hockey at Yale. It was hilarious and brought us together. We’d put clear tape on each other’s blades or hide our jocks. Always little things but funny. We also used to bake together – Phoebe Staenz, Rachelle Graham, Hanna Astrom and me. We even baked cookies including  our hockey jerseys’ numbers on them.

Creative people always find a good way to have fun. – Cookies with the numbers of jerseys on them, baked by Ali and her teammates.

HELPING OTHERS CONTINUE THE GAME WE BOTH LOVE, WOULD BE A DREAM FOR ME

In my future, I’m going to be applying to medical school in June. I hope to become an orthopedic surgeon for a professional or collegiate hockey team so that I can give back to players and hopefully save a few of their careers. While I might not get to be out on the ice, helping others continue the game we both love, would be a dream for me.

‘Hockey is my favorite thing to do and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

HOW HOCKEY MAKES US FEEL IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING

My note to the other players would be, enjoy everything and don’t take any of it for granted. Hockey is amazing and there are so many things that it will teach you that can be applied to all of life.

Hockey is a tough sport for anyone. You are constantly pummeling your body in training and in games. But it’s always worth it. What we think of ourselves and how hockey makes us feel is more important than anything. This sport has empowered me to push myself in every aspect of my life. Hockey is my favorite thing to do and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

 

Tatiana Shchukina: I Consider Myself as a Very Happy Person Because of Hockey

Tatiana Shchukina is a very unusual 22 years old Russian hockey goalie. At the  beginning of our conversation, she told me her English wasn’t good, but she was willing to talk to me in any way. She’d wanted to share her hockey story, and wrote it in a mildly humorous vein, revealing her witty character. Shchukina is someone who’s not afraid of the obstacles that come her way. She’s  determined to be on the path to success.

Her friends love her for being a good and loyal friend. They like her honesty and her sense of humor. She is not afraid to tell her opinion when she finds it  appropriate, and vice versa. She is not a loud person and does not like to stand out in a company, but if you need her advice, she will be happy to help you.

Besides hockey, Shchukina’s doing tourism studies at the Russian International Tourism Academy, preparing these days for the final exam. When she has it completed, she’ll continue to play hockey and travel around the world. In her free time, Tatiana likes reading, art, pets and all amusing activities.

Tatiana Shchukina

VOLLEYBALL, ARABIAN DANCING AND ICE HOCKEY

I was born in 1995 in Podolsk, an industrial city in the Moscow region, 37 km away from the Russian capital. Since I was a child, I always played sports. Growing up, I was involved in different sport activities. I’ve played volleyball for a school team and I’ve done Arabian dancing. At the age of 13, my father suggested me to try something more exciting, and took me to the ice rink. I loved the atmosphere there, and started playing ice hockey on a local team.

At the start I was a player. But, one day my coach offered me the position to play goalie. It looked difficult to me, but I decided to give it a try. My parents positively reacted, though they were not sure how serious my decision was. I proved them wrong, and here I am, standing in front of a net,one year by another. My father is still supporting me. After all these years, I am very happy whenever I see him on the stands.

‘With Tornado we won three times the Russian Championship”.

WINNING THE RUSSIAN HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP

After practicing and playing with boys in my birth town, I felt the need to make a change in my life, and decided to move to another town. I wasn’t sorry for leaving, because I was looking ahead to the future. I moved to Odintsovo, also in the Moscow region, and start playing for the girls’ team Atlant Mytishchi. There I spent 3 amazing seasons.

But, one day I got an invitation to play in WHL, (the most prestigious Russian women’s hockey league), for the professional  HC Tornado Dmitrov. It was a great honor for me, because it was the best and most titled women’s hockey team in Russia. I played on the Tornado team for 4 seasons. We competed in finals a few years in a row, and won the Russian Championship 3 times. We also won the European Champions Cup.

‘Sports are an excellent platform for life development and career building”.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY IN A YOUNGER TEAM

After 4 seasons playing in the WHC, I wanted to play in a weaker team. I needed again a new challenge and I saw this as an opportunity to play in a newer, younger team. So I moved to HC Dinamo from Kursk, a city 500 km south from Moscow. I felt great there and we were a good team, but because of financial problems, we couldn’t participate in the Women’s Hockey League. I was not satisfied with this and decided to move to HC Dinamo from St. Petersburg. I played there in the 2016-2017 season and we won a bronze medal in the WHL.

Hockey holds a special place in her life.

WE ARE CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVING OUR GAME

Now I play on team SKSO Yekaterinburg of the Sverdlovsk region. Even though our team didn’t play well in the previous season, we have not lost hope. We are trying our best and continuously improving our game. We want to be able to play one day in the WHL, against other strong women’s teams.

I also had an opportunity to represent Russia at the U18 World Championship in Finland and at some other international tournaments. I am very proud of myself for being able to wear a national team jersey.

‘As a member of the Russian National Hockey U18 Team, I competed at the Worlds in Finland, 2013.”

I WAS IMPRESSED BY CANADIAN NATURE

 Each sport involves a lot of travel. Through hockey, I’ve been able to travel widely, and visit many beautiful countries, like Canada, Finland, Austria and others. I’ve liked them all, but  Canada left the best impression on me. I liked their mountains and forests, and how large, modern cities can live together with nature.

HOCKEY IS MORE THAN JUST A GAME

Hockey holds a special place in my life. I consider myself as a very happy person because of hockey. Ice hockey is more than just a game. It’s travels, having an opportunity to meet new and interesting people, revealing new cultures and ways of life. In general, sports take a lot of space in the people’s lives. Sports are not just a physical activity, they are fashion, excitement, marketing, passion and an excellent platform for life development and career building. If I didn’t become a hockey player, maybe I would be a professional dancer or find myself in blogging. Who knows?

‘I consider myself as a very happy person due because of hockey”.

HOCKEY IS JUST 10% TALENT, AND 90% HARD WORKING

At the end of my story, I can only tell to younger players to try today to be better than yesterday. And, of course, love what you do. This is the recipe for hockey success. Listen to your coach and do whatever he tells you to. Don’t forget, hockey is 10% talent and 90% hard working.

 

Elena Sans Pascual: Playing Hockey for Spain Completely Changed My Future Plans

Elena Sans Pascual is a charming 17 years old Spanish girl who likes to travel and play hockey. She was born and used to live in Barcelona, together with her family, her mom Meritxell, dad Enric, older sister Maria, and a dog Snitch. Recently Elena moved to Pamplona, for hockey and school. Now she lives in the house of her coach, together with his family.

She is currently on the last year of her schooling, and is preparing for the final exam, so the next step would be attending an university. Elena practices hockey three days a week, and the rest of her time she spends in studying. In her free time, she likes watching football, especially her favorite teams FC Barçelona and Liverpool FC. This young lady likes many things, but the ones she enjoys the most are certainly ice cream and churros filled with chocolate.

HOW A FIGURE SKATER BECAME A HOCKEY PLAYER

I started playing hockey when I was 7 or 8 years old. My family lived next to an ice rink, where my older sister liked to spend Saturday afternoon figure skating. I was also  interested in it, so, one day I decided to give it a try. In the very beginning, l was just attempting to maintain a balance and not fall. But, after a lot of practice, I got better. It was one of my coaches who realized the figure skating wasn’t the best sport for my temper. I always wanted to be the fastest, and win in every single activity.That’s why she suggested to my parents to take me to hockey. They accepted her advice, and one day we all went to a senior hockey match. It was an amazing experience for me, especially when the players started fighting. At the very moment, I looked at my mom and said without hesitation: ‘I want to do that”. My family was very supportive. They themselves have been very involved in the idea of making a team, and they are still doing it.

Elena with her dog Snitch

MY DAD USED TO DRIVE ME 485 KM FROM ONE RINK TO ANOTHER

I started practicing hockey with the boys in the FC Barcelona, in Barcelona, Catalonia. A few years later, when I was 11-12, I also started playing with the girls, for the CH Huarte team in Pamplona. It was a very exciting and tiring period in my life. My dad used to drive me around 485 km  (300 miles) from one rink to another, and it usually took us 4 and a half hours. But love for hockey was stronger than any effort, and we never gave up.

One season I also had played on the Ice Blue Cats women’s team from Barcelona, but the season after I came back to Pamplona. Finally, two years ago, I moved to Huarte. Now I’m trying to finish my last two years of school,  playing hockey with both  girls and boys under 17.

‘In future, I will keep playing hockey and trying to improve my skills.”

A PROMOTION TO IIA DIVISION FIRST TIME EVER

When I turned 15, I started to play for the national team of Spain. I played my first Women’s U18 Championship Division II, Group B at home, in Jaca, Spain. A year after that I played at U18  Women’s World Championship Qualifications for 1B Division. A month later, I also competed for Spain in the Women’s World Championship of 2B Division at Iceland. That year we also played at the Four Nations Tournament U18 in Hungary, and the Pre-Olympic tournament with the senior team. Finally, this year is my last in the U18 team. In the last few months we have already played the U18 Women’s World Championship Qualification in Mexico. And, as a cherry on the top, a few days ago our National Team  finally managed to take top spot in 2018 Women’s World Championship of IIB Division, claiming a promotion to IIA Division first time ever.

They’ve made a historical hockey success ever for Spain

WE JUST TRIED TO GIVE OUR BEST IN EVERY SINGLE GAME

Honestly, we didn’t think of winning the gold. We just tried to give our best in every single game, without giving up. On the first day, we had a hard game against Iceland. We won, and the first obstacle was behind us. In the next two rounds, we also beat Romania and Turkey. The last game was against undefeated Chinese Taipei. We committed ourselves hearts and souls to the game, showing on the ice our fighting spirit and how much we wanted to win. When we’d heard the the final whistle sound, I couldn’t believe we’d made it. This was the common success of all players, technical staff and our coach, Christian Yngve. I’m so thankful to him. He did a lot for us during these past 3 years.

‘We were just trying to give our best, and play one game by another-“

An opportunity to play hockey for the National Team of Spain, has completely changed all my future plans. Thanks to that, I realized how I love hockey. I’m still playing with the same passion, and feel great among all these amazing teammates and friends.

THEY’VE TAUGHT ME MANY HOCKEY AND LIFE LESSONS

Ever since I started playing hockey, I had several coaches, but one of my favorites has been Sergio Gimenez. He coached me when I was younger, at the very beginning of my hockey career. The other favorite coach of mine is Swede Christian Yngve, the coach of our national team. Thanks to these guys, I’ve learnt all I know of hockey. They have not been just my hockey coaches, they’ve taken a great care of me, teaching me many life lessons as well.

Elena with her coach Christian Yngve

YOU MUST NOT ALLOW THE DEFEATS TO HINDER YOU ON YOUR WAY TO THE SUCCESS

In my future, I will try to keep playing and improving my hockey knowledge and skills to the best level I can. I would also like to coach kids or a women’s team one day.
      
My message to the other girls would be to keep on doing what they really like and to never give up. It doesn’t matter how high your goal is – if you really want to achieve it, you have to keep on learning, practicing and working hard, and not allow the defeats to hinder you on your way to the success.


      

 

 

 

 

Andrine Furulund – A Story of a Girl Pursuing Her Dream

Andrine Furulund is 19 years old. She is a Norwegian hockey player who now lives in Gothenburg, Sweden. She lived in Oslo with her family and her dog until she finished high school. In August of last year (2017), she packed up her bags and moved to Sweden, to follow her dream of becoming a hockey player.

Andrine’s days start at 5 am. She works full time at Store Support during the day. In the evening she has on and off ice hockey practice most days of the week. She goes to bed early every night, in order to be ready to do it all over again the next day.

Besides hockey she’s into photography and drowing. Unfortunately, after a day’s work and hockey practice, there isn’t much time left for anything else.

Andrine Furulund

HOW MY SOCCER TEAM BECAME A HOCKEY TEAM

 I started playing hockey when I was 8 or 9 years old. My aunt Kari Fjellhammer who introduced me to the sport, played in the most prestigious league in Norway for many years. She was also on the Norwegian national hockey team.

I was into soccer, when my aunt took me and my whole soccer team to the ice rink. We all had such a great time, that we decided to also start playing ice hockey. It was thanks to my aunt and Jarle Hilton, that this all girl hockey team came to be. The beginning was hard since there was no girl’s league. We had to start by playing against boys and losing almost every single game. Eventually, after a lot of practice, we got better and started winning. I remember how it felt good to win the game and see the boys cry for having lost.

A photo taken by Andrine

WINNING MY FIRST MEDAL

When I turned 13, I started playing for the women’s team IHK Jordal. As I got older, I also started playing on the boy’s team Hasle-Løren. Having an opportunity to play with both girls and boys was a great experience.

Every year there was a regional championship for the girls under 18. I competed in finals 6 years in a row and won at least 3 gold medals, but also a couple of silver and bronze. All in all, it was a great experience. for all of us.

The World Championship in Graz, Austria 2017;    photo taken by: Mats Bekkevold

A WONDERFUL MEMORY FROM VAUJANY, FRANCE

I have also competed in three  U18 World Championships for Norway. My fondest memory is winning the silver medal at the 2015 World Championship of IA Division, in Vaujany, France. We had a great team that year, the surroundings were beautiful. My dad was also there, in the stands, and got to see me winning a silver medal. It was absolutely amazing.

I’ve also had an opportunity to compete in two women’s World Championships I participated in so many different competitions, that sometimes I lose count.

‘My fondest memory is winning the silver medal at the 2015 World Championship in Vaujany, France.”

MOVING TO THE BIG LEAGUE

In 2017 I moved to Gotheburg, Sweden, to play in SDHL, one of the better women’s hockey leagues. It was an opportunity for me to develop my skills and improve my game. This league is at much higher level then the one I played in Norway, and I saw that this was going to be a fun challenge early on.

It was not easy moving away from friends and home, even though Gothenburg is not that far away from Oslo. Now I have to look after myself. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and life in general over the past 7 months. I think I’m doing pretty well.

‘I’ve learnt a lot about myself and life in general over the past 7 months.”

Even though my team is ranked as the last in the League in the previous season, we have significantly  improved our game. We lost a lot at the beginning, however, around Christmas we turned things around. That was a great feeling.

HOCKEY IS NOT JUST ABOUT MUSCLES AND STRENGTH

Many see hockey as a men’s sport. The game can be rough and you need a lot of strength and stamina on the ice. That is true, but it is also not all. Physical strength and muscles are not enough. A team has no need for a physically strong player, who does not understand the game. If you want to be a great player, you need to understand the game strategy, which direction to skate in, and who to pass the puck to. You need to be able to read both your opponents and your teammates. You need to use your head and be smart in order to be good at it.

The World Championship in Graz, Austria 2017;     photo taken by: Somogyi Viktor

A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS

While living in Gothenburg, I believe I have grown both as a hockey player and as a person. I am not sure what the future holds, but I would really love to continue playing hockey here.

My message to the younger players, who are just getting started, would be to have fun. If you want to get better at the game of hockey, you have to be able to enjoy it and have fun along the way. It will not always be easy and you will not always win, so it is important to enjoy it for the fun of it.

 

 

 

Linda Liu: We Have Finally an Opportunity to Represent Taiwanese Women’s Hockey

For some time I’ve been writing about women’s hockey. I’ve had an amazing opportunity to publish stories of the female hockey players from all over the world. And each of them itself was special and different, just like our lives are.

Linda Liu’s story left me speechless. I couldn’t stop reading it for its simplicity, sincerity, warmth and emotions. Linda’s education, beliefs and way of thinking definitely differs from western girls. Her story radiates with sincerity, love and respect, as almost all the stories of eastern girls.  I really enjoyed reading it, as I’m quite sure you will feel the same.

Linda Liu, the captain of the Taiwanese Women’s Ice Hockey Team

GET TO KNOW LINDA LIU

My Chinese name is Chih-Lin Liu, and my English name is LindaI’m the captain of the Chinese Taipei Women’s ice hockey national team. I’m a 22-year-old Taiwanese girl and a college student in Taipei, Taiwan, studying industrial design. From experience, I can say that it is pretty difficult being a design student and playing sports simultaneously. There are times when my projects, 30 idea sketches, and model buildings are due, and yet I still have to make it to the rink.

Except when doing research for my project and hockey practices, I love going out to observe some exhibitions or events so that I can get more ideas for my design.

Linda with her family

WE WERE RAISED BY USING A CHINESE MILITARY METHOD

I started to play inline hockey when I was 8, and joined ice hockey a year later. The story began with my dad. Namely, one day he brought home two packs of hockey gear and told my older sister and me to get ready.  As we realized what was going on, dad had already taken us to a hockey rink.

At that time my dad just retired from the military service. He had played inline hockey himself for years, so he wanted us to try it as well. Thus, we were raised, beaten, and trained like boys, by using a Chinese military method.

So how did we train on our own? We got hit every time we had skated too slow or had not played well. As we grew older, my dad trained and pushed us less and less.

Most of her life she’s been practicing with the boys.

A HUNDRED LAPS AFTER A TRAINING SESSION

Later on, I started to work harder on hockey. It was not because I was forced to, but because I wanted to. My first club (where I still play) has been Max hockey team. Today it is known as Silver Monsters Ice Hockey team. There are mainly boys, we only have two or three girls on the team.

The first two years I joined, we trained vigorously on our skating. I remember we used to skate a hundred laps after our training session. It was very difficult for me, but I still enjoyed it.

A GREAT INFLUENCE OF A HUNGARIAN KÕVÁGÓ ON TAIWANESE HOCKEY

Later on, a Hungarian guy came and changed the whole idea of ice hockey in Taiwan. Kristóf Kővágó, a former professional hockey player, has guided our club team and national team to win numerous tournament victories. He was the one who taught me a lot of things. Because of him, my ice hockey basis built up really well.

‘It was incredible experience to lead my team to a winning streak.”

AN AMAZING HOCKEY EXPERIENCE IN CANADA AND SWEDEN

In 2008, I attended the IIHF 100-year anniversary Skills Challenge event. Three Taiwanese kids went to Quebec for a fantastic hockey week. After watching all the amazing players from around the world, my friend, Tiffany, who is the Chinese Taipei National Team’s goalie, and I had a dream that one day we will catch up to them.

In order to be a better player, I have joined twice the ice hockey camp in Sweden. It was a wonderful time of my life to play with all the elite women’s national team players. To train with them was the biggest dream I could make come true when I was 14.

GATHERING THE FIRST TAIWANESE FEMALE ICE HOCKEY NATIONAL TEAM EVER

I have been playing with Taiwanese boys my whole life and never thought that playing ice hockey with only girls could be that fun. By that time Taiwanese women’s hockey was just about to start. I was thinking of one day I could play with girls and represent our country to compete with others. Why not give it a try  in a women’s team? So I took every opportunity that I could get to gather all the girls from each Taiwanese team. We were practicing together as much as we could, in order to go for some small tournament.

‘In 2014 we got the chance to play at our first formal international tournament.”

In December 2014, we finally got the chance to play at WCCOA, the very first formal international tournament. In three years, we won two gold medals at WCCOA and one at World Championships Division II Group B Qualification last year. It was incredible to lead my team to a winning streak and moved up a division that fast.

WE HUGGED ONE ANOTHER AND CRIED TOGETHER OVER THE THOUGHT ABOUT HOW FAR WE HAD COME

I remember the team bonding before the last game of  the Worlds against Belgium. Tiffany and I told the girls that this is going to be a huge step for our women’s ice hockey history. Three years ago, no one believed in us. Nobody thought that we could even win any match in the first place.So, we had to prove them wrong. We hugged one another and cried together over the thought about how far we had come. The loudest and most touching national anthem I heard was the one after the game.

When I’m talking about the national team, I have to point out the weird way  of score celebration. I do not know who started it first. When we score, we hug together and jump at the same time to cheer. It looks clumsy but that’s just how we celebrate. 😀

‘A few years ago, none believed in us, so we had to prove them wrong.”

I WILL JUST ALWAYS PUSH MYSELF TO THE LIMIT

For the environment of Chinese culture, we will imagine an athlete normally looks taller, bigger or stronger than average. We will also think of an athlete as “not so smart to study but can do sports”. Based on these facts, I’m not an average athlete. I look like every other girl of my age. People still get surprised when they find out I’m a hockey player. It is funny to watch their reaction whenever I do something only “strong people can do”.

Whatever people think a girl should be or look like, I will just always push myself to the limit and surprise those who do not believe I’m able to do that. I do not need to be masculine to let others know I am tough. I simply want to prove that a normal look Asian girl can do both sports and study, and I do them pretty well.

‘I want to help more on the team and pursue higher level of hockey.”

NEVER TRY AND YOU’LL NEVER KNOW

I have never really planned my future with hockey. I was taught in a typical Chinese way of thinking that you were not going to make a living with sports. As time went by, I started to dig out the purpose of me playing hockey. As long as I can make sure there is no problem for me to feed myself.

Everyone needs a dream to live on. Why not put one into my life? Five years ago, there was no chance for us to join the IIHF tournament. We did not have enough women players to build up a team. And we finally have an opportunity to stand on an international stage and step out to represent our country. I want to help more on the team and pursue higher level of hockey.
I will continue practicing as hard as I can to join the draft of any women’s professional hockey league. Never try and you’ll never know, right?

‘Everyone needs a dream to live on. Why not put one into my life?”

BELIEVE iN YOUR ABILITIES, AND BE THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF

Honestly, I think hockey is not an easy sport in any way. But it is like our lives. We need to work hard to get what we want. And sometimes we lose though we did all we could. Honestly, I think I am never good enough. So I will reflect myself after each pass, shot or a puck save, just to make sure I will not make the same mistake again. It is like a lifestyle, we keep reflecting our behavior and never stop learning. The only thing that matters is to believe in your abilities, and be the best version of yourself.

Marisa Reese Maccario: Love the Sport for a Reason, and Don’t Ever Forget It

Marisa Reese Maccario is a 23 years old senior at the University of Connecticut. She’s also a skilled hockey player and a real fighter. Each of her average days consists of going to classes, working, studying, as well as hard on and off ice hockey practices. But she succeeds in coming to an end with all of her duties and responsibilities. Sometimes it’s not easy, but hockey players are used to it. Between the practices and attending classes, she runs the social media outlets for the UCONN sport management program. 

Marisa Reese Maccario

Marisa’s big hobby is coloring. She actually started a color journal, so she can write along with drawing and coloring. She usually tries to do that before going to bed, in order to relax after a long and hard day. If she doesn’t color, Marisa normally reads a book. She’s just finished Aly Raisman’s book, which she liked a lot

I JUST FOLLOWED IN THEIR FOOT STEPS

I started skating at the age of 3. My brother and sister, both older, started playing hockey, so I just followed in their foot steps. Though what is interesting is I am a righty (right-handed). My mom was a field hockey coach and in field hockey you can only play righty. So, growing up around field hockey, when it was time to figure out how to hold a stick, I instantly put it in my right hand.

Marisa with her mom, dad and sister Mia

100 GAME WINNING STREAK AND 2 STATE TITLES

I grew up playing with the boys, until I attended St Mary’s of Lynn, where in 8th grade I played for the varsity. The team was very good and I was able to be part of the 100 game winning streak and two state tittles. Later on, I went to prep school at Cushing Academy, in Ashburnham, Massachussets. As a senior, I was an assistant captain senior, and named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year. After that I played for the Boston shamrocks, for a post graduate year (2013/2014), and then I went to UCONN, the University of Connecticut.

NEW PEOPLE AND NEW EXPERIENCES

Every athlete experiences a lot of unforgettable moments in his career. When it comes to my experience, best memories have been just meeting all the people that I have met through the sport of hockey. Going to prep school and then playing Juniors for a year before going to college I got to meet people that I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with. It is a wealth that can not be experienced by a man who does not engage in sports.

‘Key is to keep a smile on your face and lean on the friends around you.”

KEY IS TO KEEP A SMILE ON YOUR FACE AND LEAN ON THE FRIENDS AROUND YOU

The only bad thing about any kind of sport, including hockey, is just not always being able to be with your family or attending family events. It is not easy to be separate from your dearest. I know even my teammates here at UCONN have experienced that one family event that you missed where they will all facetime you, and the moment when you get off the phone and you start crying because you wish you were with them.

In those hard moments, key is to keep a smile on your face and lean on the friends and teammates around you. They will understand you for sure, because they have already experienced it.

‘Have fun, and remember why you love the sport.”

THE NEXT STEP IS A GRAD SCHOOL

In my future, a Grad school is hopefully the next step, though that means hanging up the skates at a female “professional level”. But, I do believe I will find a league with a couple nights of a week to play in. My brother plays hockey in such a league, and honestly, it would be fun to be on the same ice with him again, just like in old times.

HAVE FUN, AND REMEMBER WHY YOU LOVE THE SPORT

At the end, I would tell younger girls to have fun, and remember why you love the sport. It goes by fast your time, so take full advantage of it. Especially when you get to the college level, you will realize that its not because you want to do It or have to because of your parents. It is important to be aware it is because YOU want to do it. Love the sport for a reason, and don’t ever forget it. 

 

Jana Kivell – the New Zealander Who Lives for Hockey

In a word, Jana Kivell adores hockey. She plays both inline and ice hockey, and is a 17-year-old New Zealander, currently in her last year at high school. Her life revolves around hockey. If she’s not playing or practicing, she’s watching hockey videos at home. Usually, there is not much free time between school, homework, practices and fundraising for international tournaments, so she is always busy.

Jana Kivell

SHE SETS THE BAR HIGH AND LEADS BY EXAMPLE

This young lady loves hockey so much, that some of her coaches are actually pretty sure that Kivell sleeps with her skates on some nights. For them, she is a player ready to absorb everything. They are impressed with her abilities and with the way Kivell reads the game. Although Jana is talented, she has also worked hard to be the player and person that she is now. 

According to her friends, Jana Kivell is an intelligent girl, who definitely takes pride and excels in all aspects of her life. Sometimes she’s pretty quiet, but also super cheeky. She’s a great leader; she sets the bar high and leads by example. She’s kind and hates to see people being treated unfairly.

New Zealanders – The third place in Inline hockey, China 2017

AN AMAZING INLINE HOCKEY CAREER

I started skating on inline skates when I was 4. A few years after, I started to play inline hockey for my primary school. After playing inline hockey for 8 years, when I turned 16, I started playing ice hockey as well. Inline hockey has taken me on many adventures already. One of my favorites was the AAU Junior Olympics in Hawaii, in 2016. In 2017 I went to China, to play at the FIRS Inline Hockey World Championships with the NZ Junior Women and Senior Women teams. We placed third in Junior Women and sixth in Senior. I also scored the most points (28) in the Junior Women’s Division – 14 goals and 14 assists in 9 games.

Jana and her teammate Laura, WCCOA Tournament 2017.

NEW ZEALAND, THAILAND, HONG KONG, MALAYSIA

In 2016 I started to play ice hockey. I played in the NZWIHL, with the Auckland Steel. A few months later I got the opportunity to go to Thailand, to play for the New Zealand U18 Women’s Ice Hockey Team, at the 2017 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia where we won gold. At this tournament myself and some other Kiwis also met some girls from the Philippines team. They invited us to play with them at the 2017 Mega Ice Hockey 5’s in Hong Kong. There were three of us who went and played with them.

I WAS NEVER FAR FROM A RINK IN CANADA

For most of the 2017/18 season, I got the chance to take part in an exchange with the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association in Canada. A program has been allowing female ice hockey players from New Zealand between 15-17 years old to go to Toronto to play and train with the Leaside Wildcats team, for 6-8 weeks. It was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had. Generally, the Canadian culture was very similar to here in New Zealand., other than hockey and temperature. It was summer in New Zealand and winter in Canada when I went on exchange. The temperature was almost a difference of 50 C° at the time. When it comes to hockey, the main difference I noticed was the special plays like power play and penalty kills. The systems were a bit different to here, but mostly similar. It was fun to play with girls that were all the same age as me. I’ve never had that before. The hockey culture in Canada was one of my favorite things to experience. I was never further then walking distance from a rink. Almost every house had a hockey net on the front driveway. It’s the equivalent to rugby here.

Jana with the girls from the Toronto Leaside Wildcats team

I WOULD PLAY HOCKEY EVERY DAY IF I COULD

The best part about playing hockey is getting to play hockey and be a part of a team. I would like to play every day if I could. I also appreciate how many places the game has taken me so far. It is sometimes a challenge to be away from home for a long time, like when I went to Canada for most of the season. I still kept in contact with my friends and family at home. I also got to make some new friends and memories that I wouldn’t have it if I hadn’t gone.

WOMEN’S ICE HOCKEY AT NEW ZEALAND

The hockey community is not very big in New Zealand. We have around 160 registered female ice hockey players, and 3 female club teams, one in the North Island, and two in the South. The women’s club teams do not have age limit, so anyone can play and be in the same team. The women’s season is usually 12 games per team, and goes from November until February. For the rest of the year, there are mixed leagues that girls and boys can play in. A lot of ice hockey players in the North Island also play inline hockey.

The New Zealand U18 Women’s team, Malaysia 2018

At the moment, I just got back from the 2018 WCCOA tournament (top division) with the NZ U18 Women in Malaysia. I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the Alternate Captains for the team this year. We came home with silver.

CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLE

In the future I would like to go to Barcelona in 2019 to play inline hockey at the World Roller Games, the same event that was held in China last year. I want to go as far as I can in hockey, wherever that might be.

One of my coaches says to “control the controllable”. I think that’s really important, because it reminds me that I can only control what I do, and my responses to things on and off the rink. It helps me to stay focused on what I’m doing and keep a level head.

 

 

 

Aneta Lédlová – It’s Time for Big Life Changes

I remember the exact moment I saw Aneta Lédlová for the first time. It was 7 years ago, at the mixed (boys/girls) international ice hockey tournament in Prostejov, Czech Republic. I remember how she walked off the ice rink, with her hands in pockets and a snapback turned upside down. As some other girls from Czechia, Slovakia, Germany and Serbia, Aneta also played for the Dívčí hokej team. The team was brought together to the Tournament by a Czech Pavel Krček, a great supporter and fan of female hockey.

I KNEW I HAD BEEN LOOKING AT THE FUTURE HOCKEY STAR

Lédlová was wandering around the ice, stopping occasionally to take a look at the running game. She looked so relaxed and serene. But, an hour later, I couldn’t take my eyes of her. In a word, she was absolutely brilliant: her skating, puck handling and shooting left me speechless. At that very moment, I knew I’d been looking at the future star and the big name in the worldwide women’s hockey. And I was right.

Aneta Lédlová

A PERSON WITH A RARE CHARACTER AND MORAL VALUES

Her friends and team mates have great respect for Ledlova. Many of them are aware that they can learn a lot from her, not just in hockey, but also in life, because of her exceptional character and moral values. She is the one who will listen to you patiently, and give the best advice. She’s very hard working and focused, but she creates the mood that’s exciting and fun – her sense of humor is outstanding and witty. That’s why people love her and enjoy her company.

A PRECIOUS CHRISTMAS GIFT

When I was 3, I got a Christmas gift I fell in love with – roller skates. I put them on my feet and – I skated. Despite being so little, I knew how to skate, and I was really good in it. Since that day, I skated in our flat and outside without ever stopping. After a few weeks, my mom suggested me to try skating on the ice as well. My mother and uncle also played ice hockey when they were young.

And that’s how it all began. As soon as I started skating, I got a stick and a puck, and I felt great, and my family was very supportive.

The 4 Nations Tournament, Budapest 2014, photo by: Somogyi Viktor

FROM THE CZECH REPUBLIC, ACROSS CANADA, TO THE STATES

Until I was 18, I played hockey with boys on the local team, in my home town Kadan, Czechia. I also played some games and tournaments for the HC Karlovy Vary, HC Litvinov and HC Slavia Prague. But my primary club still was in Kadan, and I practiced only with them. It was a good experience playing with boys for so long, because I had an opportunity to practice with stronger and faster players, and to grow and develop in the same way they did.

The ring in honour of winning CHA League, and CHA Play off.

WE WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP

When I was 18, I went to Canada, to the Ontario Hockey Academy, in order to play in a High School League. My goal was to play good hockey, but I also wanted to try to get a full scholarship in the US. After 7 months at OHA, I managed to get it. I spent almost two years in the States, studying at The Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania. As far as I know, there were 34 teams, divided into 4 conferences. I played in a College Hockey America (CHA) League. We played both conference games and non-conference games. Last season we won the Championship, and it was an amazing experience.

The bronze at the World Championship in Budapest is one of my favorite memories.     photo by: Somogyi Viktor

OVER 50 OFFICIAL GAMES IN THE NATIONAL TEAM JERSEY

Apart from the hockey university competition, I also play for the national women’s ice hockey team of the Czech Republic. I competed at three U18 Worlds, 5 senior Worlds, and I played at 2 Olympic Qualification Tournaments. All in all, I think I have played over 50 official matches in the Czech national team jersey, and numerous friendly games.

It is hard for me to chose the best hockey memory. Whenever I play with the national team, we have a lot of fun. But maybe my dearest memory would be my last U18 World Championship, in Budapest, 2014. We competed with the world’s best female players of that age, and won the 3rd place. I think I will never forget that moment, place and team mates who were there with me.

The 4 Nations Tournament, Budapest 2014 photo by: Somogyi Viktor

IT WAS DIFFICULT TO LIVE SO FAR AWAY FROM HOME

When it comes to hockey, I love almost everything. The only thing I do not like is that I can’t live with my family. The last 3 years I spent in the US and Canada. It was very hard for me to live separate from my dearest. I used to call them whenever I could, but I still felt the emptiness for being so far away from home.

BEING WITH MY FAMILY IS THE BEST TIME I CAN HAVE

I am 21 now, and currently I’m preparing for my wedding. For me, she is the best person in the world. She used to play hockey as well, but she was a goalie. Honestly, I love her so much, and I can’t imagine my life without her.

She is the best person I know, and I love her very much.

In my free time, I watch movies or do some other things. My hobbies are video games and TV shows. I love to be with my family. Being with them, for me is the best time I can have. Also, in the summer I play Hockey ball. Last year (2017), we (the Czech National Hockey Ball team) won the World Championship.

WORK HARD AND GIVE YOUR BEST FOR HOCKEY

In my future, I want to go and play at the next Olympics in Beijing. I would also like to play hockey in Sweden or Finland. I miss the US, but it is time to have a new experience. My wedding will be in April, and I hope it will be unforgettable. We plan to have kids and family, and start to live a normal life. Honestly, I am very excited about future.

Playing hockey, you can learn a lot of other people, but most of yourself.

My note to the younger players would be to work hard and give your best for hockey. On the other hand, don’t forget to enjoy it. Hockey is an amazing sport. Playing it, you can have an extraordinary experience, a lot of fun, and friends from all over the world. You can learn a lot about different people and cultures, but most of all – about yourself.