UND Women’s Hockey: Making an Impact on the 2014 Sochi Games

UND forward Michelle Karvinen, (Eric Classen/ UND Athletics)
UND forward Michelle Karvinen, (Eric Classen / UND Athletics)

Today, while I was watching NBC Sports Network, former NFL receiver Chris Collinsworth made the following comments, “I kind of went over there to watch a women’s hockey game, but I saw a hockey game.” The All-Pro wide receiver continued, “Those women are really talented.”

These comments caused me to do the double face palm. I couldn’t believe my ears. If you’ve watched women’s hockey for any amount of time, you “might” take issue with his comments. These women are the best women’s hockey players in the world. Okay, Collinsworth probably meant nothing malicious with his comments, but his comments did seem a bit short sighted. Yes, these women are very talented hockey players.

I asked UND women’s head coach Brian Idalski if he has heard Collinsworth’s comments.

“Obviously, he doesn’t spend a lot of time watching the games,” Idalski said. “I think he was probably trying to be complimentary – that it’s evolved – it’s progressed, it’s become much better than the last time that he’s seen the game.”

Idalski continued, “Anyone that follows it (woman’s hockey) knows it’s physical, especially the top teams (USA, Finland, Canada). There’s a lot of physical play. With the US’s speed, Canada has to play physical to take it away.”

UND forward Susanna Tapani (Eric Classen / UND Athletcs)
UND forward Susanna Tapani (Eric Classen / UND Athletcs)

Six players with ties to the UND Women’s hockey team on three Olympic teams

During the 2014 Sochi games, the University North Dakota Women’s hockey team has three former and three current players, who are playing on three separate national teams (Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux, Michelle Karvinen, Susanna Tapani, Tanja Eisenschmid and Susanne Fellner).

Women’s hockey, a good on-ice product

I asked coach Idalski if the average fan realizes how good Women’s hockey is.

“The Olympics are always the pinnacle, and the showcase of it,” Idalski said. “So again, there are a lot of people that are being exposed to it (women’s hockey), that don’t see it a lot. Obviously, the NCAA is getting a lot of play time for being a developmental ground for not only North American, but for a lot of the European countries as well.  Hopefully, that will get people to take a look, and have their kids and daughters get involved and watch. Hopefully, that builds and grows the game.”

Former UND forward Monique Lamoureux (Eric Classen/UND Athletcs)
Former UND forward Monique Lamoureux (Eric Classen / UND Athletcs)

College Hockey Inc. for Women’s College Hockey

Coach Idalski suggested that women’s division I hockey needs to have a College Hockey Inc., like the men do.

“It would also be nice if the NCAA took notice that perhaps we should do some things to help grow the game internationally as well.” Idalski said. “To allow us more opportunities to educate some of the European players, on what they need to do. To absolutely educate some of those people about the opportunities over here, because there’s still a lot of people in Europe that that don’t fully understand the NCAA rules, or what they need to do education-wise. We really are the forefront – the NCAA is – in the development for the Olympics, and these countries. It would be nice if the NCAA took some notes and helped us make that better.”

There’s one thing for sure, there are six players, with ties to the UND Women’s team that are making an impact on the Sochi games.