Former Gustavus Adolphus College women’s hockey player Sarah Moe `02 is set to once again skate competitively on the campus of her alma mater this Saturday when the Minnesota Whitecaps take on the Manitoba Maple Leafs at 7:00 p.m. in Don Roberts Ice Rink. Moe will suit up for Manitoba in what will be the first semi-professional women’s hockey game played in Don Roberts Ice Rink.
“Its going to be sort of surreal to be playing in front of people I know and my own players,” said Moe about the opportunity to play on her former home ice sheet. “Aside from the actual playing part, I’m really excited about this game coming to St. Peter and Gustavus. Because of my connections with coaching and the community, I’m excited for all of these little girls to see these players.”
Watching Sarah Moe play pick-up hockey against the likes of an assortment of students, alumni, faculty and staff every Thursday afternoon at Don Roberts Ice Rink in what has been tagged “Noon Puck,” it is a apparent that Moe, now 10 years removed from her collegiate playing career, still has a passion for the sport of which she was a pioneer. It would also be fairly easy to see –even from the standpoint of a non-hockey fan – that Moe can still bring it.
“Bringing it” was something Moe had to learn at an early age. As a girl growing up in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, playing hockey – especially in a hockey “hot-bed” like central Iowa – was not the most popular choice of an athletic career. Sarah Garrison, her maiden name before her marriage to Gustavus golf coach Scott Moe, made the sport of hockey her own and learned how to adapt and make the most of every opportunity, even if that meant a lot of travel and skating alongside boys.
“I played one year of girls hockey before coming to Gustavus. Before that, it was all boys hockey,” said Moe. “While I was playing boys hockey in Iowa, I played with the Connecticut Polar Bears one year and we won the National Championship with USA Hockey. That was my only experience playing with girls before coming to college.”
In the fall of 1998, the West Des Moines, Iowa native made her way to Gustavus Adolphus College and immediately made an impact on what would become the women’s hockey dynasty of the MIAC. Moe scored 43 points on 24 goals and 19 assists her rookie season, leading Gustavus to its first league title and being named the MIAC’s Player of the Year.
By the conclusion of her senior season in 2002 (a 2-1 win over Bowdoin to capture third place in the NCAA Tournament), Moe had played the game at a level not achieved by anyone in the sport. Ranking second all-time in scoring at Gustavus with 144 points (80G, 64A), Moe finished her career as the top scorer in NCAA Division III women’s hockey history. It would take until the 2004-05 season that Elmira’s Laura Hurd and Plattsburgh State’s Elizabeth Gibson would surpass Moe’s scoring record. To date, Sarah ranks fifth all-time in scoring with 181 points (99G, 82A).
Moe garnered All-MIAC honors four times, was named MIAC Player of the Year twice (1999, 2002), took home All-America honors twice (2001, 2002), and was named the NCAA Division III Women’s Hockey Player of the Year in 2002.
Following her playing career at Gustavus, Moe continued to stay involved in hockey through coaching. She served two years at the collegiate level including one year as the head coach at St. Olaf and one year as an assistant at Gustavus and is now in her sixth season with the consolidated St. Peter/Le Sueur-Henderson/Montgomery-Lonsdale Bulldogs.
After a two-year absence from the player side of hockey, Moe returned to playing competitively in 2010. She says that she got a wakeup call after suffering a neck injury a year ago. “After the injury, I started realizing that I’m only going to have my health for so long. I always wanted to see how I stood up at the higher level, so I decided to give it a shot. I felt pretty good about my game after playing men’s league three times a week.”
This past December, Moe decided to put her skills to the test in an exhibition game for the Manitoba Maple Leafs based in Winnipeg. In what Moe states was a trial by fire type of tryout, she was invited back.
“I have been getting my feet wet this season. I didn’t expect to be playing nearly this much, so it has been really exciting,” says Moe.
Much like tennis player Andre Agassi, quarterback Kurt Warner, and Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, Moe has continued to improve later in her athletic career while still searching for the peak that every athlete strives to reach during his/her career.
“I had the opportunity to play Division I hockey, but prior to this year, I didn’t know that I could have. I wouldn’t have been the best player, but I would have stacked up just fine,” said Moe on what she has learned from this experience. “The pace of the game that I am playing at right know is a pace that I’ve never experienced in women’s hockey. It’s crazy that after 24 years of hockey, I am improving so much right now because I am playing at such a high level. My game is evolving because of that.”
Moe will be playing alongside and going up against a contingency of Division I and Olympic level talent this weekend. Saturday’s game against the Whitecaps will feature Jenny Potter, Winny Brodt, Allie Thunstrom, and Jocelyne Larocque. Potter, a four-time Olympian and gold medalist, has been an international caliber player since the mid-1990’s.
Moe says that Saturday’s game will be a great opportunity to expose young hockey players in the area to some of the greats in the sport. “I go into the locker room with my high school girls and tell them that I was just on the ice with Jenny Potter, and they look at me like, “Who’s Jenny Potter?” explained Moe. “In this area, I don’t think they have any idea who these women are and it’s going to be a great opportunity to see a four-time Olympian here in St. Peter. For me, that’s the exciting part and to be able to play in the game is just a bonus.”
Tickets are $7.00 for adults, $3.00 for students and seniors, and children 5 years old and under are free. Admission for Gustavus students is also free. Tickets can be purchased at the door the day of the event. One hundred percent of the ticket sales benefit the Bulldog Youth Hockey Association.
The Minnesota Whitecaps are a non-profit, elite, national-level women’s hockey team. The host Whitecaps have been Western Women’s Hockey League (WWHL) Champions for the last three years and were the first U.S. team to win the Clarkson Cup in 2010. They are committed to promoting girls hockey and helping the sport flourish.
Sarah, and her husband, Scott live in St. Peter with their three children, Logan, Jack, and Libby.