The Lighter Side of Women’s Hockey

There is a great deal of truth to the notion that “laughter is the best medicine”. What is unfortunate in this day and age is that smiling and laughter oftentimes take a back burner to strife and discouragement.

Well, we are going to try and change that – even if it is momentarily. If this article can put a smile on your face, then this writer has done his job.

Erika Lawler Metropolitan Riveters
Metropolitan Riveters forward Erika Lawler nearly takes a spill as she hoists the 2018 Isobel Cup with her teammates (Photo Credit: Pat McCarthy).

With the announcement on Mar. 31, 2019 that the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) will be closing its doors as of May 1, proponents of the women’s game have been understandably crestfallen. The wound is still quite raw, the sensation ranges from earnest pain to blank numbness.

Furthermore, the gold medal game of the 2019 IIHF’s Women’s World Championship on Apr. 14 ended in stunning controversy as Finland’s apparent overtime winner against the USA was disallowed under very confusing circumstances. This left many women’s hockey fans to feel disillusioned and disappointed by the IIHF. In no slight to Team USA, many believe (including yours truly) that Finland was robbed of the gold by the game’s poor officiating.

We indeed need something to smile about right now!

In a notion of solidarity that permeates throughout all of women’s hockey, we asked 20 players to tell THW their funniest or silliest hockey moments. We received responses from players from all over the world. Included were Olympians, along with current and former players of the CWHL, NWHL, Sweden’s SDHL, Finland’s Naisten Liiga, and Russia’s ЖХЛ – each offering to share their stories.

Some of their tales are hilarious. Some are zany. Some are maybe downright embarrassing. But we assure you that each player’s personal “light side” moment will get you to grin.

Presented to you in alphabetical order, here are 20 humorous instances in the lives of some of your favorite women’s hockey players!

Taylor Accursi – Buffalo Beauts forward (NWHL)

“Keeping to my theme in Buffalo of being the ‘Celly Queen’, I actually scored a goal in college and while I bent down to sweep the ice with my hand, I lost my balance and slid across the ice on my butt!”

Shelby (Bram) Bailen – former Buffalo Beauts (NWHL), Brynäs IF (SDHL) forward

“I played for Brynäs in Gävle, Sweden. The first week in my apartment the heat broke or the pipes froze, and it was so so cold – there was a full breeze in my apartment. I didn’t know anyone on the team yet, I didn’t speak Swedish and no one in my building was helping me as they were all foreign to Sweden as well.”

Shelby Bram was a member of the 2015-16 inaugural Buffalo Beauts squad, but had some cold adventures while playing in Sweden (Photo Credit: Troy Parla).

“Needless to say I was so cold, that when I slept I had two pairs of socks, tights, sweats, long sleeves, a hoodie, a jacket, a scarf, a winter hat and mittens on. I would heat water bottles up in the middle of night to hold so I could actually sleep! Finally after a week I got over my shyness and asked someone on my team to help me and call a plumber.”

Lauren Dahm – Worcester Blades goaltender (CWHL)

“So one of the funniest stories I can remember is when we were playing Montreal during my second season with the Blades – our first game of the year. Karell Émard crashed the net, slid into my crease and into me. We have played against each other since college when we were rivals at Clarkson and St. Lawrence. I remember getting knocked off my skates, and when I looked down and realized who it was, I raised my blocker like I was gonna pop her one. We both laughed and she tapped me on the pads and skated away. After the game, one of my defenders from Japan said she got so nervous that I was really going to fight the girl! I said ‘No way, Sato – I wouldn’t hurt a fly’ and she giggled.”

“Well the funniest part is that one of Montreal’s great photographers snapped a picture of the moment and I can only imagine what people thought transpired after the pic was taken! I look like such a goon – which is so not the case – I’m a wimp. This moment reminds me of the things I love most about women’s hockey and the CWHL. You can have fierce competition and great friendships with the girls on the other end of the rink and go from trying so hard to score or save the puck, to joking around. Then right back to game mode and then catch up like old pals after the games too.”

Estelle Duvin – France Women’s National Team forward

I thought about our arrival in Espoo, Finland (at 2019 IIHF Women’s Worlds) with Team France. As it was our first time in the Top Division, we had some expectations about the environment, especially about the locker room. So all the girls were excited about discovering the locker room, and readying with our phones to film this moment. When we arrived at the ice rink, we saw that we will have to dress in an “ALGECO” (commercialized storage container) with two benches and five chairs, two showers for the entire team, and no ceiling. So that was really surprising and funny.

France’s Estelle Duvin took a few tumbles at the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Espoo, Finland, and had the luck of them being shown multiple times in slow motion on television (Photo Credit: Mats Bekkevold).

More personally, when we played against Sweden on Rink 1, before going onto the ice for period three, I forgot (to take off) my skate guard. I fell on the ice, got up, and fell again. The slow motion video showed me doing this on TV two or three times!

Emily Fluke – Connecticut Whale forward (NWHL)

“I was about six years old in my second season of ice hockey, and my mom brought me to a new skills clinic. During the clinic the instructor came up to me and said, ‘Good job Emily’, after one of the drills. When I got off the ice, I was so excited and I rushed up to my mom and said, ‘Mom he knows my name! He must think I’m really good’.”

The Connecticut Whale’s Emily Fluke with a hockey grin from when she was just a youngster (Photo provided courtesy of Emily Fluke).

“My mom didn’t tell me until much later in life that the clinic asked that the parents to put the name tape on their kid’s helmets. So I had ‘EMILY’ written in big bold letters across my forehead and that’s how he knew my name.”

Nachi Fujimoto – Färjestad BK defender (Division I); former Boston Blades,Les Canadiennes de Montréal (CWHL)

“The opposing player broke their stick so I grabbed the puck. Then I dodged all of my teammates, and scored a goal in my net when I was six years old.”

Taylor Holze – former Metropolitan Riveters forward (NWHL)

“Senior year of high school we were at a tournament in Mississauga, coming off a giant 8-0 win versus Shattuck (Shattuck-St. Mary’s School) – the first time we had ever beaten them. Between periods losing a game we should not have been, our coach is in the locker room absolutely destroying us. Screaming, throwing sticks and garbage cans – going on for so long. He walks out and tries to slam the door as a final statement, but it was a pressurized door and it closed so slow – like a centimeter per 10 seconds – and we all just started crying laughing. It was so funny.

Sophie Johansson – Djurgårdens IF defender (SDHL)

“One of my last years playing with the boys, I was kind of little if you compared me to the boys. But I always loved to tackle, and I had a really good hit on the biggest guy on the other team. The whole arena was standing up applauding, including the whole team that he was playing on”

Claudia Kepler – HV71 forward (SDHL)

“One night after practice I left my stall a mess, so my coach duck taped all of my stuff, and wrapped my stall up like a present. The next day I showed up to practice and it took me about a half hour to unwrap all of my gear. I definitely learned my lesson on keeping my stall clean!”

Kourtney Kunichika – 2017 Isobel Cup champion, former Buffalo Beauts forward (NWHL)

“I’ve scored on my own team from behind the goal line of the opposing team. So, it’s round-robin of Nationals 14U. The score is 1-1 against some team from Texas and it’s the second period. I remember this pretty vividly, as you can tell. I’d like to think that my hockey sense is pretty sharp and I can read my teammates well, but this time I did not.

Kourtney Kunichika is an inaugural member of the Buffalo Beauts and helped them to the 2016-17 Isobel Cup championship (Photo Credit: Troy Parla).

We got the advantage of a delayed penalty, I have the puck behind their net, and think my player is cutting into the high slot – nope. I step right and slide a perfect pass up the slot to no one, and I can see exactly how perfect it was. Yep, it had enough oomph to make into my own net. I remember our goalie said she was far too gone to make it back since it was the second period and the distance was too far. Very embarrassing. We ended up tying 2-2, thank goodness. But we could have won.”

Kim Martin-Hasson – Swedish Olympic bronze and silver medalist, former Linköping HC goalie (SDHL)

“One time my bra got stuck in my goalie pad and I almost went out on the ice with it. It was a game against Canada.”

Noemi Neubauerová – Czech Republic Women’s National Team, Colgate University forward

“My freshman year of high school we used to do open hockey where guys and girls could come out on the ice and play a scrimmage. One time when we had open hockey none of the other girls came on so it was just me and a lot of older guys.”

“So I came out of my locker room thinking I’m gonna jump over the boards and be cool in front of them, but I left my skate guards on and completely ate it. They all started laughing and tapping their sticks. One of them came to me and took them off because I was so embarrassed to even move at that moment. After, we all just started laughing.”

Kelsey Neumann – 2017 Isobel Cup champion, former Buffalo Beauts goalie (NWHL)

“When I went with a boys team to Russia I was the only girl in the tournament. We were at the same hotel as the Latvian team and my teammates thought it would be funny to give them my room number. The Latvian team called my room pretty much every day trying to serenade me. I was about 13 and thought it was funny at first.”

Kelsey Neumann
Kelsey Neumann won an Isobel Cup with the 2016-17 Buffalo Beauts. (Photo Credit: Matthew Raney)

“Then we played against them and they kept going hard at the net. They knew I was the one they were calling and whenever I went to protect myself after the whistle they would pat me on the head and say ‘Sorry, pretty goalie’.”

Elena Orlando – Connecticut Whale defender (NWHL)

“I think some of my favorite funny hockey memories are pregame dance parties with Kelly Babstock. Babs has a lot of great routines and they’re a good way to stay relaxed before games for me. Definitely produced lots of laughs.”

Jordan Ott – former Buffalo Beauts defender (NWHL)

“I guess the funniest hockey story I have is one time I got a penalty when I was seven. I was so excited to get back out of the box, I tried to run out the door before it was opened wide enough. I ran smack-dab into the sides of the penalty box doors, and caught both sides of my pants on the door latch and the wall latch. I ripped both sides of my pants and was hanging from the door and couldn’t get unattached!”

Katelyn Rae – 2018 Connecticut Whale (NWHL) draft pick, Merrimack College forward

“I think one of my favorite bloopers was the last weekend of the regular season this year (2018-19). Throughout the last few years I’ve had some funny, clumsy moments like falling off the bench when changing or falling mid-ice when no one was around. So my assistant coach and me had an over-under competition for how many times I would fall off the bench that weekend.

Katelyn Rae Merrimack College
Katelyn Rae was drafted 12th overall in 2018 by the Connecticut Whale (Photo Credit: James Stankiewicz).

The very first shift of the game I came off to change and someone had left the door open, but not enough for me to see that is was actually open. I confidently jumped over where the door was and it ended up flying open. I went head over heels back into the bench, which obviously drew everyone’s attention. I just looked at our assistant coach and just died laughing because we had just talked about it! Kind of lightens the mood on the bench when things like that happen!”

Kiti Seikkula – HPK Hämeenlinna forward (Naisten Liiga), Finnish U18 Women’s National Team

“Once, quite a number of years ago I was rollerskating with my twin sister Heta. We wanted to improve our skating skills, so we believed we had a good idea. We had a competition with each other – who dares to brake later without crashing out of the street. It was my turn and I had to beat Heta. I thought that now I have to brake as late as possible.

Kiti Seikkula Finland
Kiti Seikkula has represented Finland twice at U18 Women’s World Championships (Photo Credit: Julia Liikala)

I accelerated to high-speed, and I was sure that I beat Heta but then something happened. I wasn’t able to brake in time and therefore I crashed out of the street and found myself in some rose bushes! As you know roses, are quite spiky so you can imagine what I was feeling like when I managed to get up from the bushes. There were spikes all over my body and it took some time to get rid of them. Once again, I learned my lesson.”

So Jung Shin – Olympian with 2018 Korean Women’s National Team, former Metropolitan Riveters goalie (NWHL).

“When I joined St. Francis Xavier University for the first time, I couldn’t speak English at all. When we had our first tournament we took a flight. We went to the airport and some security guard asked me ‘Do you have any firearms in your hockey bag?’. At that time I didn’t understand what he said, but I thought I had to say ‘yes’ because I thought I should say positive things to security guards. And also, I only (understood) one word – ‘hockey bag’.

Former Metropolitan Riveters goalie So Jung Shin (right) had a near disastrous hockey-related experience at the airport (Photo Credit: Troy Parla).

I thought ‘Oh, the security guard is Canadian. Maybe he is asking me something like “Your hockey bag is cool”‘, or something like this. Okay, so I think this time I have to say ‘yes’. Every teammate looked at me, and everyone freaked out and started yelling at me – ‘You have to say “No”! Say no! Say no!.” The security guy’s face turned red in embarrassment. He also said to me ‘Say no. You must say no’. After that, I realized that something was wrong. From this experience I realized that if I don’t understand what someone says, I should ask.

Alexandra Vafina – Russian Women’s National Team and 2-time Olympian, SKIF Nizhny Novgorod forward (ЖХЛ)

“It was a while ago when I was at about 13. We played our regular championship in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan against some of the boys teams. I would guess it was the second period when we were in the D-zone. It was long shift, and we tried to get the puck out of our zone when the puck got to my teammate’s stick.”

“She didn’t realize where we were and forgot that we played defense. So she just made a very solid shot to our own net -from the middle of the zone, such a good spot. Our Goalie was surprised, but she did a save. My friend was shocked, as well as our whole team and the coaches. We laughed about it, and cheered her to not to try to score on our goalie again. She is still my best friend, even though we live far away.”

Saana Valkama – University of Vermont winger, Finnish Women’s National Team

“You asked a good person considering that I feel there are lots of silly things that have happened to me on ice. I was playing in U18 Worlds, and halfway through the first period of quarterfinals our bench goalie asked me what is hanging out from my pants. I was like, ‘What?’. And then she ripped out a bra from my pants that had somehow ended up in there. I was super embarrassed at that moment, but I ended up scoring the OT-winner, so maybe there was some lucky charm at playing with a bra hanging out from my pants.”