11:15 a.m. – The journey to the site of the 2013 NCAA Championship began at 9:00 a.m. this morning when the team bus rolled away from the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College heading for Superior, Wisconsin. Well, technically, the journey to get to this point began in October when the team began practice. For a club that made the NCAA Semifinals three straight seasons prior to this year, I have a feeling Superior was pinpointed on a map and that this weekend was circled on the calendar of many of many team members.
The familiar sights of players in their typical traveling sweatshirts, yoga pants, tennis shoes, and the now infamous Gustavus women’s hockey bomber jackets can be seen on the bus. Another typical sighting on the bus of a Division III athletic team is a student-athlete with her textbook and notes. Even before the bus left Don Roberts Ice Rink, books were open and studying was taking place.
At roughly the same time the team stopped for a break and a bite to eat in Hinckley, Minn., news came across the wire – the wire meaning Twitter – that senior Lindsey Hjelm was named the 2012-13 winner of the MIAC’s Shelia Brown Award. By definition, the Shelia Brown Award is given to the senior who has made a long-term contribution to her team’s success and who has consistently competed with good sportsmanship. Matt Higgins, the Assistant to the Executive Director of the MIAC, wrote a terrific release on Lindsey and this honor. To view the complete release, please follow the link below
Lindsey stepped back on the bus to a slow clap from her teammates and a “Shelia, Shelia, Shelia” chant. Hjelm is the first Gustavus player to receive the honor since Laura Vannelli did so in 2007-08. No player until Lindsey this year has been named the MIAC Player-of-the-Year and the Sheliea Brown Award winner in the same season. Congrats Lindsey. Another very deserving award for a truly special Gustie.
3:30 p.m. – We arrived at our hotel at roughly 1:00 p.m. and had a little down time before heading to the rink. Upon arrival at the arena, the Gusties suited up and took the ice for their scheduled pre-tournament practice. Each team is allowed an hour and a half of ice time on the day before the semifinals. Today’s skate is all about getting used to the surroundings and getting the blood pumping.
The Hussman Arena features an Olympic sized ice sheet and spectator seating on one side of the rink. The Gusties have familiarity with this place after playing the UW-Superior Yellowjackets to a 1-1 tie earlier this season on Feb. 5. While at the rink I was able to meet Jon Garver, the UW-Superior sports information director. Jon is still running around getting everything ready for the weekend. He’s been a top-class host and its been great to work with him this week.
Coach Carroll skated the girls for about an hour and a half. After practice it was back to the hotel to begin stressful preparations for tonight’s banquet. Twenty-three college women getting ready for a formal banquet – I’m sure you can imagine the scene in the Gustavus block of hotel rooms.
Immediately after the banquet will be a mandatory NCAA meeting that Coach Carroll, Athletic Director Tom Brown, Athletic Trainer Mitch Bockenstedt, and I will attend. My assistant Tyler Grey and our student photographer Dan Coquyt have arrived in Superior and will be joining us at the banquet.
Gustavus Sports Information Director Ethan Armstrong will be with the Gustavus women’s hockey team at the 2013 NCAA Division III Women’s Hockey Championship finals this weekend in Superior, Wisconsin. He will be blogging periodically throughout Gustavus’ stay in Superior. To signify when Ethan installs a new post, a chronological number (i.e. I, II, III) will be placed at the end of each headline.