The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, March 29, 2019

Remembering what's important — Interview with Annie Pankowski — must-click stories in women's hockey

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Remembering What’s Important

I hope you are prepared for a long list of AMAZING stories coming at the conclusion of the 2018-19 women’s hockey season. But don’t fret hockey fans, there is a promise of more to come, as the ten teams competing in the IIHF World Championships in Finland are holding pre-tournament camps through this weekend.

Last week, I attended the 2019 NCAA Women’s Frozen Four. It was basically a who’s who of women’s hockey. From media, to players, coaches, and super fans (lots of overlap, by the way), the past, present, and future of the game ascended on Hamden, Connecticut for what turned out to be an amazing tournament.

We would not see a three-peat by Clarkson, who fell to Wisconsin in the semifinals. However, we did see a Golden Knight win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. Read more about Loren Gabel below.

My favorite part of the weekend was getting to learn more about Patty through the words of her daughter, Serena Sandt. She was only eight years old when the first Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award was given to Brandy Fisher of New Hampshire.

Today, 21 different players have received an award named after her late mother. Addressing the crowd with her daughter by her side, Serena apologized for not being the best public speaker. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I want to thank all of you for everything you have done to help evolve women’s hockey to where it is today. To present [my daughter] with an opportunity that decades ago she would not have had. And, all of the little girls and future generations, it means so much to them, and to me, and to my family.

“My mother would have been very honored and humbled by this award.”

Serena went on to tell lovely stories of a fierce competitor who loved hockey and her family. She told the story of how her parents met, and acknowledged a hard truth, that she stood before us two years older than her mother at the time of her death.

Her speech reminded me of something Minnesota head coach Brad Frost kept saying all weekend, that there are things more important than hockey. The weekend was a reminder of that in so many ways. I met so many wonderful people and was inspired by so many stories. Despite being busy and a bit under the weather, I was very thankful that, through hockey, all weekend long I was reminded to enjoy life.

Once I was finished with my assignments, I placed my things in my car, walked to the far side of the People’s United Center, and took in the view on a beautiful Sunday in early spring.


This Week in Women’s Hockey

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! erica@ericaLayala.com

A glimpse of the reality of the cost, commitment required for families to participate in Youth Hockey programs.

The Ice Garden caught up with NCAA Women’s Frozen Four analyst Sonny Watrous.

Mongolia is fielding its first women’s ice hockey team for the 2019 IIHF Challenge of Asia Cup next month.

Hailey Salvian recaps the Clarkson Cup Final without Marie-Philip Poulin and the questions that remain about her injury ahead of World Championships.

I take a hard look at the Metropolitan Riveters’ struggles this past season. Come for the analysis, stay for the FUEGO Madison Packer quotes.

The Black Girl Hockey Club continues to grow! YASSSS #TeamMoreMelanin

A history of Les Canadiennes de Montreal for the McGill Tribune.

Gabby Fundaro, At Even Strength recaps Wisconsin’s NCAA National Championship win.

If you are more of a podcast type of person, listen to Mike & me break down the NWHL Isobel Cup Finals Weekend on the Founding 4 Podcast.

Alaska celebrates The Hickel Sisters, Calgary Inferno.

Loren Gabel becomes the second Clarkson player to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award.

The NWHL releases attendance numbers, state of the league. Here are my takeaways.

Five Questions with Renata Fast over at the NHL. Past WoHo players feature by NHL.com include Shelly Picard, Jennifer Botterill, and Brianna Decker.

Blake Bolden wins NWHL Defender of the Year.

More NWHL season recaps over at The Ice Garden: Buffalo Beauts, Minnesota Whitecaps.

The Ice Garden CWHL season recaps have also begun with the Worchester Blades.

More on Jakob Kolliker, Chinese National Team ahead of World Championships.


Tweet of the Week

Add the Wisconsin Badgers to the list!


Five at The IX: Wisconsin forward Annie Pankowski

I made my way to the first USA Hockey training session ahead of Women’s Worlds in Finland next month. The U.S. National Team is currently practicing and scrimmaging at the Northwell Health Ice Center in Long Island. I will have a series of interviews from this camp, as well as from Hockey Canada camp in Toronto. Here is my chat with Wisconsin senior Annie Pankowski.

Erica L. Ayala: It’s been quite a week for you, but I want to start with this. I believe I read on Twitter you slept with the National Championship trophy, is that true?

Annie Pankowski: Yup, yeah. We got back really late, probably around 1:30 in the morning, and we had some some fun with it. And I was the last one with it. So I took it home and slept in my bed with me. So

ELA:  There you go! Now, did you bring it here [to training camp]?

AP: I wanted to! I actually had a dream about it last night that it was in the room with us. It was weird. I woke up and I wasn't there.

ELA: So, going through some withdrawals?

AP: Yeah, a little bit (laughs).

ELA: It’s been just a few days since you won the NCAA title, you go back [to Wisconsin] and celebrate with your team, and now you’re right back on the east coast. What have the emotions been like? How is your body feeling?

AP: I actually feel pretty good. It's been, it's been crazy. I mean, you dream about that moment. And then it finally gets here. And it's hard, but you have to stop, take a look around and just smile, and I'm so grateful my family was there. So kind of spend some time with them before we came back, and then got to spend a full day with my team. And I'm certainly missing them right now. But I'm really excited to be here. It's a little bittersweet, you know?

ELA: Going off of that I'm, when you think about your time at Wisconsin, what stands out the most to you over the years?

AP: Um, I don't know, I think it's kinda like the realization of of how much growth has happened. For me as a player and just me understanding the game, that's really exciting to me. And even the amount of people who knew me before I went to college, and then as I come out they’re like, ‘Man, you went through some some things during college, and you certainly came out stronger.’ I'm really proud of that. But yeah, I mean, just my experience at Wisconsin was unbelievable. And I wish I could do it all over again, to be honest.

ELA: You’ve been pretty transparent about how you've been processing a lot of different things. Who are the people and the things that kind of allowed you to be grounded and truly experience growth as you've been going through some of the hiccups in your career?

AP: Yeah, I mean, my family. My sister [Ali] has been like my best friend and like my sounding board, she's been amazing. And then my boyfriend, Gavin, who's been awesome the whole time too. And I've started working with some new people, some new sports [psychologists] and and they've been able to be a sounding board for me and an interactive diary type thing, which is pretty cool. And then [Megan Bozek] and Alex Rigsby have been awesome. Especially when I come to these things, I start to get all over excited and feel like I have to do too much and they've just been super supportive and awesome.

ELA: Have you thought about what's next for you?

AP: So, it's funny because a lot of people when I'm like, ‘Yeah, I'm going to go to vet school and I’m gonna keep training,’ people look at me like I'm crazy. And I don't know, I've just been doing that my whole life. I've been doing school and hockey and I know it's going to be demanding, but I also know that I have people to keep me grounded. I have that support system on both sides that are want me to to succeed. And certainly I'm still hungry for that Olympic medal and and even playing a couple more World Championships would be incredible for me. So, right now I'm just going to take it like one step at a time, and just kind of see where I end up.


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women's Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren PGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster