From Switzerland to College

A story about my first couple of months at college, with a life lesson for everyone at the end! Enjoy the read! 🙂

I was well travelled, had lots of international playing experience, I graduated from an English-speaking high school, I was ready to go to college in the US! Northeastern University, here I come!

Right, right, right. I guess nothing really prepares you enough for such a step in your life. I remember the day I left Switzerland like it was yesterday, but actually it was exactly 10 years ago. In August 2008, I packed my hockey bag and my suitcase and I boarded the plane to Boston. I was so excited and nervous at the same time. Did I know what to expect? Yes, I thought so. But yet, such a big step in my life, to just move across the Atlantic, leave my family and friends behind and just start an entire new life overseas.

I took a straight flight from Zurich to Boston that landed in the evening in Boston, perfect for overcoming jetlag. I sat down in the plane and started watching movies and looked at a couple documents from Northeastern University (NU), I guess I was too excited to even come anywhere close to falling asleep. The flight went by quick and upon arrival, I was picked up at the airport among some other international students that arrived at the same time than me. The first time I would meet freshmen (1st year students), would they become my new friends?

Once everyone was there, we got on the minivan and drove to campus, one after the other was dropped off at their dorm (freshmen housing), I was the last one getting off at White Hall. Getting out of the car, I looked at the building and told myself, this is where you’ll be living your first year. I would be lying if I said it was a great feeling, my stomach was cramping up. Home in Switzerland was different… ☺ Anyways, not much time to think about home, I had people coming to me with a “move-in bin” to put all my belongings in to bring to the room. I had no idea what that move-in bin was and I told them that I only have these two bags (hockey bag and suitcase) and I can carry that. Having lived there for 5 years, I came to understand why they have those move-in bins… ☺

Quickly, I had to sign up and get all the paperwork out of the way so that I could move into my room that I was sharing with another teammate. I knew that this would be the case, but being there, seeing the room, my stomach cramped up again. I kept telling myself not to worry, I’ll get used to it and since I’m from Switzerland, I am very spoilt. The room was completely empty except for a bed, a dresser, a study table and a chair. The Americans drive to university with a car fully packed with their belongings to make those rooms feel like home, and thus the need for the move-in bins… ☺

An empty room to share is the worst? No, the worst was yet to come. A shared bathroom with the rest of the people living on the same floor! I was definitely not excited about that, yet again, I told myself that I’ll get used to it. Now, that must have been the worst, right? I mentioned earlier that the room was completely empty, right? Well, so empty that there was no blanket and pillows there either. That meant I had to spend a night on a bed without a blanket and pillow! I was not impressed. My roommate was so kind to let me borrow one of her pillows for the night, but it goes without saying that my first night was not a good one.

The next two days, I had international student orientation where you meet other international students and get a campus tour and sign up for your classes for the 1st semester and so forth. I also got to know the athletic department in Cabot, a building that I spent most of my freshmen year in. However, it was during that orientation a guy came up to me and asked me if I was not the one on the flight from Zurich to Boston last night, which I was. Turns out the guy’s name was Jeffrey and he sat one row over from where I was sitting on the airplane. What a coincidence! It felt great knowing another Swiss person there, it was a relief, to be able to complain about freshmen dorms and so on to somebody with the same origin. ☺

On the first day there, I had my first team off-ice practice. I therefore met the team officially for the first. It was so great, it was so much fun, right until practice started! ☺ Damn, that was the moment when I was wishing I would have worked out harder in the summer, done more weights, more conditioning and so forth. It was tough! Real tough! I was sore, I was sore the first couple of days… and we weren’t even on the ice yet.

After the two days of orientation, classes began. I was officially a university student, or even better, I was a student athlete at Northeastern University (!). Now, was the English language an issue? Mostly not, until I sat in my first ever university lecture, macroeconomics! Oh my goodness, it was everything but fun. I had an incredible hard time understanding and following the professor in addition to not really understanding macroeconomics… I knew right away what that would mean for me, lots of studying, and English – German translations!

As a freshmen student-athlete we had to sit at study hall for 5 hours every week. Study hall was taking place in a room at Cabot, where the athletic department was at. During study hall, students basically just do their homework and study in a (mostly) quiet environment. I enjoyed going there, as I would be able to meet other athletes and get my school stuff done. It was there that I learnt about tutoring. I had no idea that you could request tutoring for every class (for free!). The tutors were always other students, which at first was weird to me, but trust me, I came to love these tutors, they were so much help, from explaining macroeconomics to just proof-reading papers!

In addition to study hall, every student-athlete was assigned a athletic advisor that we would have weekly meetings with. They always made sure that you were keeping up with school and were attending class and everything. They were incredibly helpful with everything. Even after my freshmen year, when these meetings and studyhall were not mandatory anymore, I dropped by there a lot.

I’m writing too much about school, am I? Well for hockey, we first had only off-ice practices due to some NCAA rule. Then once we were allowed to go on the ice, the first practice was a ‘captain’s practice’. Now what the heck is that? Basically the coaches make the drills for practice, but are then not coming on the ice, instead they are in the stands and evaluate the players. At that age, that was just weird to me, but now I fully understand the meaning behind this.

After captain’s practice, we would then start official team practices and after I 1 exhibition game, the season started. My first college game, an away game at RPI and a 3-2 win!

At this point I had been in Boston for over a month and guess what? I was terribly homesick! I was so homesick because I was struggling so much with my housing situation and the classes, I just wanted to quit and go back to Switzerland. On the way back from my first road trip, I called my family, who was luckily up already due to the time difference. I was crying and telling them that I’m coming home… My family knew better though, they knew that if I’d quit now, I would regret it for the rest of my life. So, instead of me flying home, my mom came to visit me and spent a lot of time with me outside of classes and hockey. It was a game changer!

When my mom left again, the situation was not better, but I decided to stick it out until the end of the first semester, Christmas break, when I would fly home anyways. It was during these weeks before Christmas break, that I finally got used to the university lecture and the English language. I did not have to study until the early morning hours anymore to just understand a topic. So when Christmas break came and I flew home, I actually got excited to go back, not because of the housing, but because of the hockey, my teammates, my friends and my education!

5 years later, I graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. 10 years later, I’ve had the best time of my life while being at Northeastern! At Northeastern, I learnt what real life is all about. I was able to develop on and off the ice and received all the help and support that I needed to become who I am today!

So, long story short. Going from Switzerland to College, is extremely difficult. But sometimes in life, it’s really good to stick it out during the hard times in order to experience the best times!

However, no matter whether this is about going to college, or at a workplace or at any difficult time in life, stick it out and don’t give up right away, it’ll make you a stronger person!

Life is like the ocean. Every time a wave knocks down your sand castle, you build it again.

Xo

Florence

Assistant Coach U18 Women’s National Team

I just can’t stay away from hockey, can I? It’s with great honor that I can call myself assistant coach of the Swiss U18 Women’s National Team. Would I have thought of that back in May when I announced my retirement? No! Did I hope for such an opportunity? Absolutely.

I’m extremely excited to be joining the U18 team, the coaching staff and take on that new challenge of standing behind the bench. Not only do I want to help them develop as hockey players on the ice, but also as role models off the ice. Young players with a bright future!

When I announced my retirement, I wanted to stay involved with hockey. I especially wanted to stay involved with Swiss Ice hockey and the development of women’s hockey in Switzerland. As luck has it, I was contacted by the head coach during my vacation in the US and was proposed this opportunity. It was a quick decision, as this is just a once in a lifetime opportunity and definitely something that I would love to do.

1st tournament is a home tournament (St. Gallen) starting tomorrow (!!!) with games against Germany, Russia and Sweden. Until November, 6 games are played everywhere in Switzerland against boys teams. In November, another nation’s tournament takes place with games against Germany, Japan and Slovakia. Another 2 games against boy’s teams before heading to Japan at the end of December for the season highlight; the World Championship!

It’s quite the schedule again, but how awesome is that?

Definitely stay tuned as I will continue to post about hockey… J

Xo

Florence

Retirement Announcement

Dear Hockey,

After 25 years of playing hockey, it is now time for me to retire from this incredible sport and move on to a new chapter in my life. Hockey has always been a big part of my life, a big part of who I am. Hockey has given me so much, made me the person I am today and opened a seemingly unlimited number of doors in my life. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to play hockey for such a long time and being a member of this worldwide hockey family.

Before I close this chapter however, I want to share with you my most precious memories that I have from the past 25 years. I could actually write a series of books about the most precious memories I have from hockey. But I’m not going to do that, or should I? 😊 However, I will try and keep it as short and sweet as possible with the highlights of the highlights…

Ever since I was 3 years old, hockey has been part of my life. I remember the day I asked my parents to play hockey, like it was yesterday. Their first answer was, no. Their second answer was that such small equipment does not exist and I guess the many more times I asked after there were other excuses. Good thing I’m suborn and did not give up until they finally said yes and sent me to my first hockey practice. It was my brothers that made the realize that I want to be a goalie. They love hockey as much as I do, and even played it at home in the garage, they wouldn’t let me play with them though, unless I would stand in net. Which I did, and I’ve fallen in love with that position ever since.

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I started out playing hockey in the “Bambini” for the Grasshopper Club Zürich (GC) where our home rink was the Dolder. It is with a big smile, that I think back of the time to when I got to play there, it was an unforgettable time and I always love to go back there, as this rink is legendary. I played my first hockey game on that rink, as a goalie of course. As you can see on the picture, I used to have those heavy brown pads that were filled with horse hair. Damn, these got heavy once they got wet! I sometimes had to miss practice because it was raining and the pads didn’t dry until the next practice and they would be too heavy for me… Such a precious memory!

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My passion for hockey became stronger and stronger. Whenever we would go on family vacation to Davos, I would bring my equipment and would put part of it on and go skate in Davos, on the biggest nature ice rink in Europe. People were playing “shinny” and of course, there was never a goalie. It was then, that I started bringing my entire equipment to the nature ice and would play goalie during these little games. There was one rule though, they were not allowed to take slapshots on me. I remember me brothers and dad getting really mad if somebody did take a slapshot. I, on the other hand, loved every single second of it. The harder the shot, the more excited I got, especially if I made a save and the players would tap me.

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Have you realized that red Jofa helmet on these 2 previous pictures? To this day, I have a love / hate relationship with that helmet. 😊 In the Bambinis, my teammates had blue helmets, in the Piccolos (one level up), my teammates all had white helmets. I received this red helmet, as the only one in the team. It had nothing to do with my goalie position or that I was the only girl on the team, I just got that one. I remember crying to my parents about the fact that I was the only one with a red helmet. Have I mentioned yet, that my parents are the best? No, well here you go, they are! Without further ado, my parents took my helmet and went to get it painted in white, what we all didn’t think of was that it’ll chip once I get a shot on such a helmet. So, soon my helmet was a mixture of white and red. 😊 Was that a sign of my future on the Swiss national team? 😛

After a couple of years of playing on the Dolder, the hockey club GC and Küsnacht merged, to be called GCK and we moved to a new rink in Küsnacht. Although this was at the other end of the city of Zurich from where we lived, the car rides there were rides I will always remember. Mom would pick my brothers and me up right after school and we would drive to Küsnacht for practice. My mom usually pre-cooked dinner for us that she put into those thermo-food containers that we would eat in the car. The food always got a funny smell in that thermos, a smell that I will always associate to those car rides to practice.

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The next best memory was when I was playing Mini Top but I got to practice with the Novizen Top, the team that my brother Nicolas was on. It was very special for me, to be practicing with my brother, because the last time we “practiced” together, was in the garage at home or in Davos playing “shinny”. Also, since I am a very competitive person, I always had to be at my best when my brother would shoot on me, which made me better every single practice. While I was practicing with the Novizen Top, I was still playing all the games in the Mini Top.

I believe it was during the time I played Mini Top, that the club GCK merged with ZSC to become GCK / ZSC Lions. The teams that were below the Novizen level, would still remain under either GCK or ZSC, but all the teams in the Novizen upward were getting mixed. The competitiveness increased incredibly, since it was two entire teams competing to get into the top team. Additionally to that extra competitiveness, for me it meant mixing up with other boys that didn’t know me (yes! I grew up playing boy’s hockey). It was very scary. I was able to consider myself extremely fortunate, as I did not have any acceptance issues with the boys at all, I was one of them. I was selected to the Novizen-Elite team, which was the best one in my age group.

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It was around that time, when I was in Davos one late summer, and my mom received a phone call for me. The coach of the senior national team called and wanted me to go to a camp. I was 13 at that time. I didn’t know that there is a women’s national team in Switzerland, so I first thought it was a joke. I always thought that one day I’ll make the men’s national team.😊 Once I got an actual letter with the invitation, it hit me. How freaking cool was that? Of course I went to the camp and that was the start of my career with the senior women’s national team. A career that I could not have dreamed in my best dreams!

Not long after my first camp, my first national team tournament followed. It was intimidating, but unbelievably exciting! I was so young though, I don’t think I really grasped the whole meaning of presenting the senior  national team on the international stage. My first World Championship that I travelled to was in 2003 in Beijing, China. However, this was the World Championship that got cancelled due to SARS. The disappointment was big, but I knew that this would not be my only World Championship that I would travel to.

A year later, I played my actual first World Championship in Halifax, Canada in 2004. That was insane! It was my first time playing in front of a bigger crowd and the first time I saw Canada’s senior national team (omg!). Let me tell you, those women left a big impression on me, and I wanted to one day be like them. They were so professional! True role models! Probably, if I would have seen team USA first, I would fancy them, but the Canadian’s were first! 😊 So basically, year after year I went to World Championship, 11 times in total. Every single World Championship has its own story, too many to be told in one blog post.

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In the meantime, I advanced in the club team to Elite B and eventually Elite A, where we even won the Swiss Championship. I even got to play in a game of the GCK Lions National League B team (that’s the second highest league in Switzerland!), the team that my oldest brother played on. My career seemed like a legit story-book, and it wasn’t about to end there.

When I was 16 years old, I made the Swiss Olympic Team that would travel to the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. A dream came true! Surreal, being at the Olympic Games with 16! It was again one of those memories that I will just never ever forget. I remember walking into the opening ceremony like it was yesterday, playing my first Olympic game against Finland and so much more. I definitely wanted to represent Switzerland at the Games over and over and over again.

When I was 19 years old in 2008, I packed my suitcase and my hockey bag and I travelled to Boston, where I would spend the next 5 years of my life. Oo Boston, I’m smiling big time right now.😊 I was again incredibly lucky and was offered a full-ride scholarship to Northeastern University. Without much hesitation, I committed there and had the best 5 years of my life. The hockey experience was unreal, as during the 4 years I played in the NCAA we were able to turn the program around and win the Beanpot Championship as well as the Regular Season Championship. I was recognized with multiple awards for my performance, but the most prestigious was that I was selected top 3 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier award. This award is given to the best female college hockey player in the USA. On top hockey, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Supply Chain Management, Marketing and Management. Most importantly though, I made friends and memories for a lifetime!

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During my time at Northeastern University, I went to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. Do I need to explain anything? Playing at the Olympics in the country where hockey was invented? I can’t even find words to describe this event, my feelings or anything…

So, only two years later was the World Championship in Burlington, USA. The memories I have from this Worlds are mostly bad memories, and yes, not all my memories are good ones. Bad memories are memories too and in that case displayed how important friends and teammates are. Although nothing was going right within the team, we made it all the way to the bronze medal game, and WON! For the first time in the history, Switzerland won a bronze medal, what a feeling!

It was in my last year of living in Boston, when I could not play in the NCAA anymore, that I was drafted by the Montreal Stars in the CWHL. I never played for Montreal though, instead I put a Brampton Thunder jersey on in the same league. I was travelling back and forth between Boston and Toronto, just to play the game that I love and finish my degree. It was such a fun season, and again, I met so many great people that made my time in Toronto very special.

After the season in the CWHL and graduating from Northeastern University, I packed my life together again and moved back to Zurich where I started working at the IIHF and played in the men’s 1. League in Bülach. It wasn’t easy going back to men’s hockey after playing women’s only for 5 years, but I felt like this would be right in regards to preparing for the 2014 Olympic Games. It was a difficult season, much travelling, lots of working and always the Olympics on the back of my mind.

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Then, boooooom! An Olympic bronze medal is hanging around my neck… Everything went so fast, and the memories of Sochi still leave me speechless. Definitely the biggest success in my entire career! Or would there be more?

It was after Sochi that I originally wanted to retire from hockey, however that success we had made me rethink and I felt like that with hard work, another success like that would be possible. It was then, that I decided to certainly do another 4 years. These 4 years were difficult though, a lot was not going the way I would have liked it.

I needed a change of scenery and moved to Linköping, Sweden to play in the SDHL. While living in Linköping, I worked at RUAG Space which was yet again a great experience where I met so many great people. First season in Linköping was really good, but unfortunately we came short in the playoff final to Lulea. The second year in Sweden started with me enrolling at Linköping University as a Master Student in order to obtain a MSc in Business Administration. Hockey wise, the second season was a disaster. I injured my knee and the rest is history.

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After such a bad season, I wanted to make this season count big time. I wanted this season to be a season to remember. I worked so hard, on and off the ice, I wanted to perform my best at all times. I had a really strong first half of the season, which raised my motivation more and more. Everything just felt right, practices, games, university and much more. Then Pyeongchang came…

Pyeongchang being my 4th Olympic Games was still incredible. It just never gets old. It’s so special and growing older, I value it even more. We had a great start to the tournament, ended 1st in our group, beating Korea, Japan and Sweden. Everything was looking pretty damn good, if it wasn’t for the Russians…

Unfortunately we didn’t stand a chance against the Russians, they were simply better than us. I was very upset, as we couldn’t repeat the success we had in Sochi. But that’s hockey, it’s a game. That we were able to capture 5th place in the end was a success and one that we can be proud off, even if we all wanted to be ranked higher up.

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After the Olympics, I went back to Linköping where we had to finish the season and win the Swedish championship. Unfortunately we came short again in the playoff final to Lulea and we “only” won silver. Writing this now, 2 months later, I think we can be extremely proud of making it to the final, as it was surely not an easy path there.

I previously wrote that I wanted this season to be one to remember and I surely will. Not in terms of hardware success, but in terms of performance, power and motivation I had. It was a great season for me and I want to retire from hockey on a great season…

So, this is it… I’m retiring.

It is with a heavy but happy heart that I’m retiring, but I will always keep the memories with me that put a smile on my face every single day.

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I want to thank everyone that has somehow supported me throughout those 25 years of pure awesomeness! It would not have been possible without every single one of you. Thank you!

Stay tuned for what’s my next chapter!

Xo Florence

S I L V E R – S E A S O N

Hi everyone,

As promised earlier, here’s my entire season recap. I think this will be a short one, as I did a Regular Season Wrap-Up, Quarter-Final Wrap Up, Semi-Final Wrap Up, and a Championship Final post.

Some time has gone by now and I was able to process the entire season and especially the loss in the final to Lulea. Overall, I can be extremely proud of my entire season. I don’t many were counting on me on coming back that strong from such an MCL/ACL injury like I had last year. Did I count on such a comeback? Yes and no.

Throughout the entire season, I was wrestling with my positive and negative thoughts. It was especially difficult in August when I started working out 100% again and then later started with on-ice practices. To be able to get back into the “hockey-shape” is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and many times, I was wondering if it’ll be worth it and if all that sweat and tears would be worth it. Gladly, after surviving the 1st month and then a 2nd month, I was determined that I will make this season one to remember. Either for the national team, Linköping or for me.

If I can make it through these first months of hell, then I can pull through with it the entire season and be the best I want and needed to be. Of course there were times where I was doubting my ability and times where I wasn’t able to be the best I needed to be. As last season, this season didn’t come without little injuries that were minor setbacks. The first injury occurred in September when I got a “skithumb”, that I was carrying with me all season… Further, after national team tournament in Germany in January, I tore my left groin and was unable to play for 3 games. That’s when I decided to go back home to Switzerland to do rehab in order to not jeopardize my participation at the Olympics. After that, all went pretty smooth until 10 minutes left in this year’s season, when during a safe, I pulled my hamstring. Like I said, no major injuries, but still small setbacks that make it harder to stay motivated.

I can be very proud of my achievements this season. I think my performance exceeded my expectations and I was even able to step it up a notch for the playoffs. I was statistically the best goalie during the regular season, also during the playoffs and earnedthe “Best Goalkeeper of the Season” Award in my league, a great recognition for all the hard work I put in.

Although we did not win the gold helmet, I consider myself lucky to even have gotten to the final and made it to the third and final game. After the first quarterfinal game against AIK, it certainly did not look like we would make it all the way to the final. In the final, Lulea was just the better team and they deserved to win that championship. Congratulations to them!

It feels like it was a very short season, so good thing we went over 3 games in all the playoff rounds, had to make the best of the time, right? 😊

Anyways, with the season over now, I was hoping to get some time to breath and enjoy myself, but unfortunately I have quite a few commitments at university that won’t allow me to take any time off. So until mid-June, when I graduate, I’ll be swamped with university work. But then, then I’ll take a nice vacation and I’m really looking forward to that.

I hope you all have a fantastic spring!

Xo

Florence

Championship Final

Hi everyone,

I hope you all had a great week with Easter break, got to enjoy your family and eat lots of Easter eggs!

I’ve had another crazy week with the play-off final week and the Stanford Students from my university project on a visit in Linköping during that time. The Stanford Students flew in Sunday, so after our last semi-final game on Sunday, we met up with them and went for a quick dinner before going home to recover and prepare for “hell week”.

Monday morning, the entire project group (4 Linköping students, 3 Stanford Students and 3 Teachers) went for a company visit to Saab. It was a few very interesting hours, where we got to hear lots about Saab’s background but then also were able to fly in a fighter jet simulator and look at an original fighter jet and so on. Lots of new information, lots to process. In the afternoon, we were scheduled to visit the Linköping aviation museum, but unfortunately, that was closed that afternoon and instead we went back to our office to work. It was a long day, very intensive, so I was actually happy that we had the evening off from practice.

All day Tuesday, the project group and myself were in Stockholm for some sightseeing and team bonding. We split up in two groups and did a scavenger hunt through Stockholm. With very tired legs, I went to practice in the evening, which was to no surprise a terrible practice. After practice, I went home and took a cold bath, which worked wonders!

Wednesday morning, I spent the entire morning at university with the project group working and around noon, I went home to get ready for the game. I had a good lunch and then a two hour nap from 2 – 4 pm, basically right up to when we left for the game.

Game #1, was a crazy game. Fun to have a home game during the week again, after having away games the last 3 weeks during the week. The warm-up was terrible, but I’m actually not worried about that anymore. I’m so experienced, that even if I had a bad warm-up, I can bounce for the game. So actually, once the game started, I felt great in net, barely left any rebounds and if I did, they were controlled ones. I was confident and really thought we could win this game 1. Unfortunately, Lulea’s goalie had an incredible game and we did not manage to score during the entire game, even though we were the better team. With one minute left in the game and a score of 0:0, Lulea managed to score of a face off with a screen in front of me. Game one went to Lulea even though we were the better team. I was disappointed, but not really at the same time. We played so well, I figured we would just do it in 3 games again.

Thursday morning we had practice and then headed to Stockholm Arlanda airport to take the plane to Lulea. It was a rather relaxing day although we were busy from morning till evening when we finally got to the hotel.

Friday morning, gameday #2. We slept in until 9am and had a bigger breakfast at the Scandic hotel before we went for a 30-minute team walk in the area. Right after the walk, we went back to our room and put our legs up against the wall for 20 minutes and then took a 30-minute nap before we had a light lunch. Right after lunch, I went to take another 1-hour nap before heading to the rink at 2pm. What a game again, pretty identical than the game on Wednesday, except the other way around. I had a pretty brutal warm-up again and then felt great again for the game. Even better puck control and less rebounds than on Wednesday. The other way around, because this time, Lulea was so much better than us this time. But we ended up winning the game with a goal with less than 1 minute before the end of the game.

With that, we were to play the championship game on Saturday at 4pm.

The entire morning on Saturday was exactly the same than on Friday. I had such a good feeling, I was ready for that championship game. Ready to go out and play and win that final. It all came out differently, we did not play well at all, including me. Actually, I played terrible. So the disappointment when we last that game, was so big, and it still is. I wish I could have played one more good game and give the team a chance to win the championship.

But it is what it is now and there is no turning back anymore.

We travelled back home to Linköping on Sunday and had a team dinner in the evening before a lot of our players left to go to their Worlds.

Once I’ve absorbed losing the Championship, I’ll write another blog post about the season reflection, so stay tuned.

Xo

Florence

Semi-Final Wrap Up

Hi everyone,

Last week was a crazy and a very much different kind of week.

I think for the first time since the beginning of the season we had a Monday off from practice. It was a good feeling to get a Monday off and take that night to recover and recharge for Wednesday’s game.

Further, we had an early wake up on Tuesday as we left with the bus for our road trip to Örnsköldsvik at 8am from Linköping. Our first stop we mad in Sandviken shortly before 1pm where we went on the ice for a one-hour practice. It was really good to get up and get out of the bus and move. That way the long bus ride did not actually feel that long. Around 3pm, we continued our trip to Örnskölsvik until shortly before 9pm when we finally got to the rink and hotel. Once at the hotel, we had a quick dinner before heading to our rooms of 4 (!) for the night.

Wednesday was quite the chill morning. We were able to sleep in a bit and then went for a walk with the team before just hanging out at the hotel. During that time, I tried to get some school work done since I was missing quite some time at school with being on the road during the week. After lunch time, I took a 2-hour nap and then we headed to the rink for the first semi-final game against Modo.

The first game was good, everything felt so good. I knew that we were going to win that game. It wasn’t going to be easy but I was confident. The game itself started off being very physical, many penalties were called. So we had to adapt our game, but I didn’t think that would change our chances. Towards the end of the second period, Modo got a ‘too many men’ penalty on which we were able to capitalize and take a 1-0 lead in the game. What a good feeling going into the 3rd period with a lead and knowing that we don’t necessarily need to score anymore but just play safe. We ended up winning the game 2-0 and take the lead in the series.

After the game, we got back on the bus and were headed back home to Linköping. It was a long night with little sleep… We were finally home before 8am on Thursday. The rest of Thursday was a blur, not much sleep, went to school, it was tough. Happy that we had another night off though, so I could go to bed early and catch up on a bit of sleep.

Friday morning I spent in school working on my Master Thesis. For lunch I went downtown with Courtney and hung out there until practice Friday afternoon/evening. Friday was a better day than Thursday, although I still felt very tired. So practice on Friday was actually not really good, but I tried to make the best out of it.

Game #2 on Saturday was a hell of a game. I truly believe, Saturday’s game was the best game I played all season, but we came up short. I was exhausted after 2 periods, but was trying my best to stay in the game and give the team a chance to win. After 3 periods, we had to go into a 10min overtime. During the overtime I think my brain shut off and I my body was just doing something. It went well, until we went into shootout. I got scored twice in a row, and we ended up losing the game 3-2. That meant that we had to play another game on Sunday.

Game #3 on Sunday… After Saturday’s game, I didn’t think I could recover for Sunday’s game. I woke up and felt like I was run over by a truck, not a good sign. Once I went to the rink, I still felt terrible and was hoping for a really good warm-up. That didn’t happen either… By the time that game started, I wasn’t sure how I will be a good backbone for the team. I tried to stay positive though and actually once I made my first save, I felt great. I wasn’t tired, my legs were functioning and my head was on full focus. 60 minutes later, we won the 3rd game 3-0 and we are off to the final…

This was a crazy week, but wait for this upcoming week. It’ll be even more crazy! We are facing off against Lulea in a best-of-3 series in the playoff final. First game is on Wednesday at home and Friday/Saturday in Lulea. Lots of travelling again.

I’m super excited to be in the final and can’t wait for that series to start, it’s going to be tough, but surely lots of fun!

Wish us luck!

Xo

Florence

Quarter-Final Wrap Up

Hey everyone,

As most of you know, last Wednesday was the start of the quarter-final playoffs in the SDHL After we came in 2nd in the regular season, we were to face-off against AIK in the first round, who ranked 7th. Lulea faced-off against Brynäs, Modo against Leksand and Djurgarden against HV71.

It was actually the first time since I play in this league, that the playoff pairings were done like that. Previously, the first ranked team could pick a team that they want to play that was ranked 5 – 8. Once the first ranked picked, it would be the second ranked team’s turn to pick… The same would be done for the semi-final pairings, best ranked team could pick who to play against for the semi-final. I always thought that was very weird, so I was happy now that they changed that for this season.

In our league, we play a best-of-3 playoff series, but if you are the better ranked team, you have your first game away and then 2 home games. To me, this is very strange as well and I still can’t get used to it. 😊 So for us being the second ranked team, we made our way to Stockholm to face off against AIK last Wednesday in the first game.

The first game was not a good game from our side. I think we were very nervous and didn’t know what to expect of AIK since we haven’t played them in quite some time. On top of that, the luck really wasn’t on our side, we had a couple shots off the post and some really good chances that we just couldn’t capitalize on. We ended up losing that game 1-0 and were therefore with our backs against the wall for the second game of the series.

We had Thursday off from practice, which was good to recover and recoup the mind. Friday evening we had a workout and a practice. The workout was a rather quick one, with only 3 weight exercises that were all executed explosively for the quick legs. The practice had a strong focus on the things we didn’t do well in the game on Wednesday, so that we could gain back our confidence for Saturday’s game.

Saturday, game #2, do-or-die. I was nervous and I told myself, I’m not ready for my season to be done yet. I wanted to play the best game of the entire season and be the strong backbone this team needs. Well, haha, that didn’t turn out the way I wanted. We got scored on 10 minutes into the game and were behind 1-0. Were we crestfallen? No, we got right back up and scored shortly before the end of the first period to tie up the game. Once we scored that goal, it was like the knot finally opened, and we were able to score one goal after the other. The final score was 4-1 and we were headed to the game #3 in this playoff series.

After the game, we had a team dinner at a sports bar in Linköping. It was a nice evening and felt good to hang out with the team and fuel up for the next day.

Sunday, game #3, do-or-die. Unlike Saturday, I was not nervous at all. I knew we got this, and yet again, I was not ready for the season to be over yet. Not once since after the game on Saturday did I doubt that we would not win that game #3 on Sunday. I’m pretty sure that the rest of the team had the same feeling than I did. We came out strong from the first second of the game and did not give up any chances for AIK to become dangerous. On the other hand, we created many good chances and were able to win the last game 5-0.

With that win, we punched a semi-final ticket along with Lulea, Djurgarden and Modo. Semi-final pairings are Lulea – Djurgarden, Linköping – Modo. 4 incredibly competitive teams and I’m extremely excited for this series to start tomorrow!

Keep your fingers crossed!

Xo

Florence

Regular Season Wrap-Up

With Sunday’s game, the regular season came to an end and here’s my regular season recap.

We captured 2nd place with 87 points in 36 games played which in my opinion is great. All teams get stronger and more competitive every season, so we can be very proud of ourselves for capturing 2nd place.

For me personally, I too can be very happy and proud of my performance and my achievements during the regular season. Coming back from such a long knee injury, I was a bit hesitant at the beginning of the season, unsure how good I will be and how my knee and my entire body will hold up. Surprisingly, or maybe not that surprisingly, my knee was holding all the way.

I was badly out of shape after the knee surgery and I was struggling getting back into shape, until I started working with my conditioning coach Andrea Zryd again. I strongly believe that the off-ice workouts that I did this season, were the game-changer in my on-ice performance. From week to week, from month to month I felt better, lighter and stronger on and off the ice.

I had 31 games played in net, 2 games where I was backing up and missed 3 games due to a torn groin right before leaving for the Olympics. In those 31 games, I had 854 shots against and let up 44 goals. My Goals Against Average was at 1.45 and I had a Save Percentage of 94.85%. I had 10 shutouts, 26 wins and 4 losses. I was the leading goalie by save percentage and goals against average as well as game winning shots with 8 saves and a 100% rate.

I strongly believe that I’ve stepped up my game throughout the last couple of seasons, but especially during this season I was able to get better and better. In addition to the off-ice trainings that made me stronger, my performance self-evaluation sheets that I filled out after every game improved my game incredibly. Being able to critically reflect my games helped me overcome the fact that I do not have a goalie coach available, but instead teach myself.

I was holding myself accountable of everything this season. No excuses for nothing. I’ve created this determination, this drive that kept me going throughout the entire season. In every off-ice training, I pushed myself to and beyond my limits, creating new limits. During on-ice practices, every puck was played until the end (even if the players did not finish playing, I would still track and follow my rebound), and I skated way more than I ever did before.

It looks like all my effort has paid off so far, but now, now it’s all about the play-offs. The play-offs are like an entire new season. Even more so this season, it being the Olympic year and teams like Canada and USA centralize and therefore are done with their season after the Olympics. A lot of teams picked up new players for the play-offs and therefore they will be even more competitive and our 2nd place in regular season has little meaning.

We too got a new player on our team. Courtney Birchard from Canada is a new player that we were able to bring on the team and I am extremely pumped about that. I played and lived with Courtney back in 2012/2013 when I was playing for the Brampton Thunder in the CWHL. Back then, Courtney and her family welcomed me at their house, now I was able to welcome Courtney to my house… 😊

Now it’s the most fun time of the season though and I’m even more excited for it to start right away as well. We face off against AIK in a best-of-3 quarterfinal series on Wednesday, Saturday & (Sunday)!

Overall, it’s been a great season so far, but I want more… 😊

Xo Florence

 

Performance Self-Evaluation

In my last blog, I wrote how I divide the season into multiple different phases. This blog is about the self-evaluation I do on all my games during these phases.

I do this self-evaluation to analyze my game and make myself better by learning from each and every game and my performances. Unfortunately, I don’t have a goalie coach that is with me every single practice or game, so I have to do it myself. Obviously, it would help me a lot more if I would receive additional feedback, especially because I am very hard on myself.

Anyways, so before the season I created this excel file with 12 sheets.

Phases

First up, the game schedule for the entire season, club and national team. Every game, every opponent, location, date and puckdrop (if applicable) is in that sheet. Looking like this:

Game ScheduleI do this, so I always have a good overview of where I’m standing within the season, see how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go.

The light grey phases are the club phases, the dark grey were supposed to be national team but did not attend. Light red are the national team tournaments before and after Christmas. The red ones are the season highlights! 🙂

So within the phases, every game gets a box with the most important effort areas:

Effort AreasAfter every game, I analyze my performance based on these effort areas and comment on them (very very very hard) and would give myself scores based on this:

Scores

Normally, a goalie could use this to work on their weaknesses during goalie practices. In my case, I try and get it done mentally by visualizing good rebound control for example.

Here’s an example of a really really bad game that I played (my opinion):

Bad gameI use this, to work on myself and especially to improve my performance to the next game. This was a terrible game (on purposely removed the opponent and date 🙂 ), and I am brutally honest with myself by writing things like “didn’t even want to play” if that was the attitude that I showed.

My goal is to score above 35 points in every game, so here comes a self-evaluation from a really good game:

good game

I believe this game has been my best game so far this season, but I would never give myself 5 points on something, because I am never satisfied and know that I can do everything better. Once in a while I would give myself a 4 but rather rarely, even on a great day.

So this is pretty much all about my self-evaluation that I do. I received a lot of questions concerning this, so shoot me a message if you have any more questions!

xo

Florence

Final Stretch of the Season

It’s 32 days to go until Pyeongchang 2018 and almost 2 months until the beginning of the playoffs in Sweden.

Over the years, an entire season has become very overwhelming for me, daily practices and so many games during the week and weekends. The travelling that comes with all the away games, the travelling to national team camps. It’s a lot! Now, I’m aware that 36 games + playoffs are nowhere close to the men’s championship, but condidering that I’m a full-time student/employee, it is a lot. 🙂

So, in order to make the season seem “shorter”, I divided the season in multiple phases. These phases help me stay motivated and on track for the final stretch of the season.

Phase 1 was the longest, started in the beginning of September, 10 games and ended on October 1st. Phase 2 should have been with the national team in October and two games, but I didn’t get a call, so instead took that week off (from games, not training) and hosted the girls’ hockey day.

Phase 3, with 8 games ended on November 1st before going into Phase 4 which would have been a national team tournament in Russia. I ended up going to San Francisco with school instead of Russia, so phase 4, was an off-phase again, just like phase 2.

Phase 5 was the second longest phase with 9 games that started on November 18th until December 10th. Phase 6 was the national team tournament in Czech with 3 games.

Christmas time is family and recovery time. So I only trained off the ice to give my mind and body a good rest for the rest of the season on the ice.

Phase 7 was the tournament in Füssen just now. Tomorrow, I’m heading back to Sweden where phase 8 starts, which is a short one with 4 games before February is all about the Olympics in Pyeongchang. The second last phase before playoffs start has 5 games and then I guess it’s an open end in the playoffs. 🙂

So that’s how I split up the season to make it seem less intense. A max of 10 games in a phase is something doable throughout an entire season… 🙂

The phases right now are going to be the toughest ones, not only because of the physical and mental challenge the Olympics and Playoff bring, but because simultaneously to this, I’m writing my master thesis and working on the ME310 project.

So it’s a busy time ahead, but thank you all for your fantastic support and all kind and encouraging messages!

Xo

Florence