“I’m really enjoying being in Sweden”
ADRIAN JERVIS: Interview, Dec 3, 2019, Stångebro Ishall. 27-year-old, Zoe Hickel, is one of the most decorated hockey players in the SDHL this year. She has won the NWHL with Boston Pride, the CHWL with Calgary Inferno as well as two World Championship golds with the USA.
Now she and younger sister Tori are at Linköping HC, “I’m really enjoying being in Sweden, there’s something special about the place and it’s great to share it with Tori Of course, Sweden is where I won my first World Championship medal…” she drops into conversation.
Hickel’s career has been full of highs and lows – The second gold medal was in 2016 in Kamloops, Canada, “To beat the Canadians in Canada with all the fans against you… that was something special,” she says with smile.
Last season in the CWHL she won the league in Canada with Calgary Inferno, “We worked hard all year long and you knew you’d beaten the best ranked players in the world. It was a great feeling!” she reminisced, “Then, a week later, we got a call that league had folded. We were in total shock”.
The CWHL’s collapse was the direct cause of the #ForTheGame movement
That was in 2015 when Hickel had just graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth where she was linemates with Swedish star, Pernilla Winberg. The plan at the start of the season was to reform the Winberg-Hickel line. But sadly, the veteran has not played a single minute since she was signed off for concussion at the beginning of October.
But Malmö wasn’t the only place Hickel has collected World Championship gold. The second win came in Kamloops, Canada the following year. “To beat the Canadians in Canada with all the fans against you… that was something special,” she says with smile.
The second Gold medal occurred in the same season that Hickel was part of the Boston Pride team that won the inaugural NWHL championship.
But whilst things started well in the second year, out of nowhere suddenly all the players pay was cut, “It was really tough and most of us left the league,” she said, “Who can play for a club like the Metropolitan Riveters if they can’t actually earn enough to live in New York?” she points out getting to the crux of the crisis within women’s hockey, particularly in North America.
Hickel, and others, moved onto the CWHL and for two years the Alaskan thrived in the environment, “Everyone wants to play in Canada, where the best play the best. The final we [Calgary Inferno] won against Montreal in 2019 had multiple Olympic medallist and World Championship winners in it. We worked hard all year long and you knew you’d beaten the best ranked players in the world. It was a great feeling!” she reminisced,
“Then, a week later, we got a call that league had folded. We were in total shock”.
The CWHL’s collapse was the direct cause of the #ForTheGame movement, which both Tori and Zoe signed up for, with North American players saying they want to make a living wage from the sport they love.
“Hopefully things will sort themselves out for the next generation of players coming through. To be honest, I’m just focusing on the game here at LHC.”
Linköping’s season has been disappointing for players and fans alike. “This is a good team and we’ve got great goaltending at the back. We just need to break down that wall of bad luck – pucks that bounce the wrong side of the net and so on”, the double world champion said.
And who knows – with a couple of good results, remaining injury free, a bit of Lady Luck and a lot of hard work – and this season could still end up she Zoe Hickel with yet another gold medal around her neck.
By Adrian J
Facebook: A Brit On Thin Ice
The extended interview can be found at: https://sportbloggare.com/a-brit-on-thin-ice/sdhl-interview-zoe-hickel