ROUNDTABLE Q & A WITH WHITECAPS AHEAD OF HOCKEY DAY MINNESOTA WEEKEND
By Rob Darragh
This weekend will mark the 14th Annual Hockey Day Minnesota weekend. Included in the festivities is a State of Hockey Women’s All-Star game which kicks off at 6 p.m. CST on Friday. Sixteen Minnesota Whitecaps players, including nine members of the 2019 Isobel Cup Championship roster, will be on the ice to celebrate that game along with alumna from the Whitecaps and the University of Minnesota.
The Whitecaps scheduled to appear on Friday include 2020 NWHL All-Stars Nicole Schammel, Audra Richards, and Allie Thunstrom. They will be joined by Chelsey Rosenthal, Meghan Lorence, Meaghan Pezon, Allie Morse, Rose Alleva, Lauren Barnes, Kelsey Cline, Sam Donovan, Kalli Funk, Nina Rodgers, Lisa Martinson, Haylea Schmid and Whitecaps captain Winny Brodt Brown.
Following the State of Hockey Women’s All-Star Game on Friday night, the Whitecaps will host the Connecticut Whale at TRIA for two matinee games. The Whitecaps and Whale will cross sticks on Saturday at 1 p.m. CST and again on Sunday at 3 p.m. CST. Tickets for both games are available at whitecaps.nwhl.zone/tickets and can be watched on the NWHL on Twitch.
We spoke with a few of the Whitecaps’ Minnesota natives about the big weekend ahead.
NWHL: What does it mean to be playing on Hockey Day Minnesota and participating in the State of Hockey Women’s All-Star Game?
Nicole Schammel: It's a huge honor to be playing in the Women's All-Star game. Hockey Day Minnesota is a huge tradition here and it's very exciting to have the opportunity to participate in the weekend.
Chelsey Rosenthal: I am honored to take part in Hockey Day Minnesota this year. It’s something that I look forward to checking out every year. All the time and effort put into this event does not go unnoticed.
Meghan Lorence: It means a lot playing on Hockey Day Minnesota and participating in the Women's All-Star Game. I have always loved the Hockey Day Minnesota event and seeing all the passion throughout the day by everyone, it's incredible and I'm really looking forward to being a part of it.
Meaghan Pezon: It means a lot! Hockey Day is a great tradition here in Minnesota and getting to spend the day celebrating Women's hockey in the State of Hockey is special! It's going to be fun playing in the All-Star game with so many players I have played with, against, and coached.
NWHL: How did growing up in Minnesota shape your hockey experience?
NS: Growing up in Minnesota shaped my hockey experience in all aspects of the game. The enthusiasm for hockey in Minnesota is very unique. Minnesota means access to ice time and watching a lot of hockey.
ML: Growing up in Minnesota definitely made my hockey experience a positive one. The majority of my friends were involved in hockey. Playing pick-up games on outdoor rinks or ponds is just something we sometimes take for granted growing up in Minnesota because that's the norm. I'm very grateful for the opportunities that hockey in Minnesota has provided me.
MP: I couldn't imagine growing up playing hockey anywhere else! Being able to play in three State Tournaments are some of the best memories I have. There is nothing better than Minnesota high school hockey!
NWHL: How do the skills you developed on the pond or the backyard rink translate to the collegiate and professional level?
NS: Playing pond hockey teaches players how to be creative and think outside of a system. When playing at a collegiate and professional level, what I have taken away is the confidence in executing creative moves and thinking that initially started while playing pond hockey.
ML: The biggest similarity is the passion level and just playing the game that we all love, whether it is on a pond, collegiate or professional level. We all play for a reason and playing outdoors I think just puts everything into perspective. It reminds me of why I play and love the game of hockey.
MP: Playing pond hockey is all about having fun playing the game and being creative. You try things you may never do in a game or practice. I think it's important for players at the collegiate and professional level to remember that you play the game because you love it!
NWHL: What are your favorite memories about playing outdoor hockey?
NS: Growing up, my friend's dad would make an outdoor rink at their house. On nights when we didn't have practice a bunch of us would go over there and play games on their rink. It was so fun being with friends and playing outdoors.
CR: Spending time with family and friends. Taking in the fresh air and the winter breeze. Warming up with some hot chocolate and hot cider.
ML: Skating outdoors is where I learned how to skate. My brother and sister are older than me, so they would always play pick-up hockey when I was on the other end of the rink learning to skate with my dad. I was determined to go to the other end and play pick-up hockey with them. My other favorite memories are getting pick-up games going with my siblings, cousins and friends. Playing in the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships is an amazing experience that every Minnesotan should experience whether they participate or just go watch.
MP: My dad always built a rink in our backyard, and I have the best memories from that rink. We had so many games with family and friends! I will never forget the late nights on the rink and being able to come home from school and skate for hours! We also used to throw a big Hockey Day Minnesota party where we would bring the TV outside, so we could watch all of the games while we were skating! Everyone from the neighborhood would come!
NWHL: What are you most looking forward to during Hockey Day Minnesota weekend?
NS: Watching Gopher Women’s Hockey take on Ohio State outdoors. Go Gophers!
CR: Connecting with some old teammates and friends and meeting some new people.
ML: There is so much passion throughout the entire state of Minnesota throughout the Hockey weekend. Really, I'm just looking forward to being a part of it.
MP: Everything! It's such a fun day, and being able to watch hockey all day, and get to see some great games! I am looking forward to seeing the rink and the set up, they always do such an awesome job! The All-Star Game is also going to be so much fun! It's going to be great for women’s hockey to see all of the talented players that have come from the State of Hockey.
Photo Credit: Tom Morris