UND women's hockey team to send 7 to OlympicsGRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Brian Idalski will lose four of his top players during the stretch run this season, and the University of North Dakota women's hockey coach couldn't be more excited about it.
By: BRAD ELLIOTT SCHLOSSMAN,Grand Forks Herald, Associated Press
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Brian Idalski will lose four of his top players during the stretch run this season, and the University of North Dakota women's hockey coach couldn't be more excited about it.
Finnish forwards Michelle Karvinen and Susanna Tapani and defensemen Johanna Fallman (Sweden) and Tanja Eisenschmid (Germany) are expected to play in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, in February.
Graduated players Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux and Susanne Fellner also are expected to be there, giving UND seven representatives in the women's hockey event.
"We've wanted to build something similar to what the men have been able to build here," Idalski told the Grand Forks Herald (http://bit.ly/13pnTQT). "We have been able to attract people who want to play at the national team level and who want to develop with the facilities we have here. It has snowballed. Like-minded people attract each other. We're lucky enough to have a small part in helping them achieve their goals."
When Idalski came to UND in 2007, the program had never sent any players to the Olympic Games. The first was Germany's Fellner, who played in the 2006 Torino Games and arrived in Grand Forks in 2008.
In 2010, the Lamoureux twins won silver medals for the Americans, while Karvinen won bronze for Finland.
This Olympics, the Lamoureuxs are expected to be top players for the Americans, while Karvinen and Tapani, an incoming freshman, should be top scorers for Finland.
"It's always nice to see people who work hard achieve their dreams," Idalski said. "Honestly, as a hockey fan in general, I'm really excited about the Olympics — both the women's and men's side."
UND figures to have at least two representatives on the men's side. Zach Parise is a candidate to be captain for the U.S. squad. Jonathan Toews is a candidate to be one of Team Canada's captains.
T.J. Oshie also is in the mix for a forward spot for the Americans.
"It's an unbelievable thing for the university as a whole," Idalski said. "It's one thing to have a player who played at your university going to the Olympics. It's another thing to have them be dominant figures once they are there."
It will make for an interesting season for the women's team. Idalski said the team's depth on defense is strong, which should help overcome losing Eisenschmid and Fellner for three weeks in February.
"It will be interesting," he said. "We're going to need younger kids to mature and step up in that time frame. Some of our redshirt kids will have to play big at that time. I'm glad it's not at the beginning of the year. It comes at a decent time, where kids are going to have to play a lot over the course of those three weeks and it will help them get experience heading into the playoffs."
Idalski also will have to manage his roster for the return of those players.
"The travel is what's going to be the hardest," he said. "If the tournament was in North America, it would be different. We'll have to play that by ear.
"You never want to be missing players, especially ones that are big parts of what you're doing, but this is a good thing," Idalski said. "It's a great opportunity for them."