The Gustavus women’s hockey team spent its holiday break playing hockey and touring northern Italy and Switzerland. During their trip, the Gusties played three exhibition hockey games. The marquee match-up was against the Switzerland National team, which will be competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver in early February. The team also took sightseeing tours of Milan and Lake Como in Italy as well as Lugano, Chur, St. Moritz and Zurich in Switzerland. Coach Mike Carroll and his squad left December 26 and returned January 3.
Junior captain Kirstin Peterson has been looking forward to the opportunity to travel to Europe with the team since she joined the squad in 2007. She stated, “Once we got to Switzerland, time just flew by. There was so much to see and do. We took advantage of every moment and really experienced a lot in a very short period of time.”
The Gusties began their trip with an outdoor game in Ascona, Switzerland. Peterson commented, “The scenery was awesome, this beautiful rink was set right at the foot of the mountains with a blue sky and the temperature about 30 degrees. It was hockey heaven!” Gustavus defeated the Ascona Select team 10-1 in the exhibition contest, but the score wasn’t important according to Peterson, it was the opportunity to play the game she loves in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.
After a couple of days of sightseeing in Lugano, St. Moritz, and Davos, Switzerland, the Gusties headed to Chur to play the Swiss National Team on New Year’s Eve. Peterson commented, “It was exciting. Playing against an Olympic team is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most collegiate players. The Swiss were very skilled and transitioned the puck from the offensive to the defensive zone very quickly.” Switzerland, which shutout the Gusties 9-0 in the exhibition game, presented Coach Mike Carroll and the squad with a Swiss National team jersey signed by each of the players after the game.
The Gusties spent New Year’s Day sightseeing in Dietikon, a city just outside of Zurich and the following day, the team toured Zurich including the famous Bahnhofstrasse and Old Town. That night, the Gusties played their final exhibition against the GCK Lions in the city of Kusnacht and claimed an 11-1 victory. The team flew from Zurich to St. Paul, the next morning arriving at the Twin Cities Airport on Sunday, January 3.
Peterson commented that the trip was everything she hoped it would be, “It was the trip of a lifetime. We visited so many different sights and really grew together as a team. It was a real learning opportunity for me and the other players. I was fascinated by the cultural differences.”
Coach Mike Carroll and his squad will now get back to the business at hand, which is attempting to win its sixth straight MIAC Title and earn another berth to the NCAA Tournament in early March.
The Gusties return to action on Saturday, January 9, with a non-conference contest at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point at 3:00 pm.