Coach Erickson Makes Team USA
Rachel Pukall
rpuka198@uwsp.edu
erickson-color-jack-mclaughlin.jpgAssistant women’s hockey coach Sarah Erickson was chosen as one of 23 players to represent the United States at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships, which took place April 2-9 in Ottawa, Ont.

“To hear my name called off the roster after a grueling week of pre-tournament camp, which was held in Lake Placid, N.Y., was an amazing feeling,” Erickson said. “On one hand, I was relieved to know that my hard work paid off, and the next minute I was motivated to be even better come tournament time to help give our team the best chance to succeed.”

The IIHF Women’s World Championships is the second-biggest International tournament, next to the Olympics. The best teams in the world compete in hopes to gain a gold medal before the Olympic Games. The eight teams that compete are the USA, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Germany and the Czech Republic.

“I think it’s amazing Sarah has the opportunity to continue her playing career with Team USA. It’s a rare opportunity for women across the country to compete at such a high level wearing and representing the red, white and blue,” said Pointers Head Coach Ann Ninnemann.

After winning the gold medal in the World Championships last week, Team USA is currently the best team in the world.

“I give Sarah a lot of credit to train on her own without a team to play games with or teammates to push her during her workouts,” Ninnemann said. “She had to work out both on and off the ice to improve her skills and make sure she was one of the top 13 forwards in the entire country to assure her a spot on Team USA for the World Championships.”

Ninnemann met Erickson last fall when she asked if she would be interested in getting involved helping coach the women’s hockey team.

“The game of hockey is in her blood, and she contributed to our team the moment she was introduced to our players,” Ninnemann said.

Erickson has experience playing college hockey and was a captain of the University of Minnesota Gophers 2012 National Championship team. She has been in and out of the USA Hockey program since she was 17, playing in the Women’s World Junior Championships.

“The girls latched on to her energy and excitement for the game, and she spent countless hours working on individual skills with players before our team practices,” Ninnemann said.

The girls are now all keeping track of Erickson’s success on Team USA.

“I wasn’t surprised that she made the team for the World’s roster because I know the time and effort she put in throughout the entire year and the commitment she made to give it everything she had to make the team,” Ninnemann said.

Ninnemann also witnessed many sacrifices that Erickson made to put herself in a position to make the final cut.

“It’s always a dog fight at the top, and through our conversations during the season, she knew she had to be at her best when it counted,” Ninnemann said. “While she was out at training camp in Lake Placid, prior to the Worlds and prior to them cutting five players, she informed me that she felt great, energized and had a good feeling she was going to be one of the 23 women traveling to Ottawa to win the gold.”

Being born into a family that all played the game, Erickson has always had a passion for hockey.

“Aside from the thrill of stepping onto the ice and competing, I love hockey because it has provided me with so much opportunity. I have met and keep in touch with people from all over the world, I’ve traveled to places people never get to in their lifetime, and I’ve had successes that many never get to be part of. While hockey isn’t who I am, it is a very large part of my life,” Erickson said.

The World Championships are an important step for Erickson as she pursues a dream she has had since she was 12 year sold.

“Without a women’s professional league, to compete in the Olympics is the highest achievement in women’s hockey. I plan on doing whatever is necessary for me to make that team,” Erickson said.