Women take shot at national title

Anna Simons

Anna Simons

The SDSU women’s hockey team burst out of the gates three years ago and has been running toward one single goal: to win a national tournament. This year, they have a chance to do just that. The team will be traveling to the 2007 Women’s Division II National Tournament on March 8-11 to face off at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass.

With a smaller team than the others headed to nationals, SDSU may seem like the underdog of the tournament, but according to club president Christa Friedrich, the team has never felt that to be the case.

“A lot of teams look at us and just laugh, like ‘Where is your bench?'” she said.

Having the “disadvantage” of fewer players would cause most teams to be pessimistic. But these girls just want to win. They know it takes more effort when they are playing with fewer skaters, and everyone picks up the slack.

SDSU is seeded second in the national tournament. The No.-1 seed is the University of Minnesota-Duluth, a team the Jacks split with during the regular season (when they were playing with only six skaters). Since SDSU will take all nine skaters to the tournament, the coaches are optimistic about their chances of bringing home a championship.

“The only team that will beat us in Massachusetts is ourselves,” said Head Coach Heath Isaacson.

The team needs to focus on staying positive and working together.

“If we play our game and just have fun, I think we will come out okay,” said Assistant Coach Dallas Shearer.

The coaches predict their team is better conditioned than the other teams, but then again, the other teams will be on and off the ice quicker, getting more breaks. SDSU has to avoid taking their breaks on the ice if they want to win the tournament.

“If we do that, we’ll have a great chance of winning,” Isaacson said.

Shearer said, “We need to stay fresh, jump out to a quick lead and stay aggressive. We will be playing a lot of games in a short period of time.”

traveling all the way to Massachusetts for the tournament. According to Isaacson, the logistics of traveling has been a major point of frustration. Six of the girls will fly, while the rest will drive.

“I wish we all could have flown, but there is a limited amount of money in our budget – and checking a hockey bag is expensive,” Friedrich said.

The team is paying for most of the trip out of pocket. They have raised money working as a clean-up crew in the HPER after sporting events. They also sold t-shirts in the breezeway of The Union.

“Being a club sport, we don’t get a lot of financial backing from the school. Our money will not pay for us to go to nationals,” Isaacson said.

But Isaacson is undaunted.

“I’m a big fan of road trips,” he said.

Being a club sport also means the women’s hockey team lacks the administrative assistance other SDSU sports may take for granted. Club sports fill the administrative gap by utilizing volunteer coaches and promoting certain players to leadership positions, such as president, treasurer, etc. For the women’s hockey team, Friedrich fills all the administrative positions.

Friedrich is incessantly regarded as a cornerstone to the club, the coaches said. She works behind the scenes to make everyone else’s job easier and has gained the respect of her teammates and her coaches.

“If she wasn’t there we wouldn’t have a team. It’s that cut and dry,” Isaacson. “She goes to all the meetings and handles all the finances. She fills every office. I can’t put into words how important she has been to this team.”

Many other leaders have emerged from the women’s hockey team as well. There are diverse talents on this team, and everyone brings something different. Friedrich hopes their combined success will put SDSU women’s hockey in the spotlight and help people realize it’s an up-and-coming sport. She also hopes that their success will generate higher attendance at games next season and hopefully, some additional funds from SDSU.