The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, April 12, 2019

The bottom feeds the top - Interview with Brianna Decker of Team USA - Must-click women's hockey links

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The bottom feeds the top

There is still a lot unknown when it comes to the state of professional women’s hockey in North America, but the show does go on at the international level. In the top level of the IIHF Women’s Worlds, the United States, Finland, Canada, and Russia advanced to the semifinals.

The teams moving on are pretty much the usual suspects, but with the expansion of the field at the top tier, the world got to see teams like Germany play and wreak havoc, relegating Sweden and France to Division I. This is the first time the Swedish team, the only team outside of North America to win silver (2006), has been relegated.

In Division I Group A, Denmark is in second place under new coach and Five at The IX guest Fredrik Glader with one day left in the tournament. 2018 Winter Olympics host team Korea finished second in the Division I Group B round robin tournament in Beijing.

A lot of times, there is a false narrative spun that women’s hockey only exists (and barely at that) at the most elite level. No arguing that is the best level of competition, but the sport needs to focus on the ENITRE pipeline to maintain and grow the top tier.

I have a link to the latest The Last Stretch podcast where a group of women from the Les Canadiennes talk about the CWHL folding. One of the comments about an hour into the conversation posits there would be/could be no growth at the top level without non-national team players believing in women’s professional hockey.

Whether thinking of the college level, lower tiers in International competition, or players that win professional honors and maybe not gold medals, elite sports stand on the shoulders of those who may never reach the top.

This Week in Women’s Hockey

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Need to get caught up on the 2019 Women’s Worlds ahead of semifinals? The Ice Garden has your daily recaps. Check out Behind The Glass and the Quarterfinals recap.

Now available for the public, my thoughts on the State of Women’s Hockey on the new Patreon page: Sports Talk with Erica L. Ayala.

Former Norwich coach Mark Bolding named head coach of Yale Women’s Hockey.

Liz Knox joins the Burn it All Down podcast, make sure to give this one a listen. The crew also does a great job breaking down the closing of the CWHL and the AAF.

The IIHF field has expanded to 10 team this Worlds Tournament. This is a bit of history on the changes to women’s tournament since 2010. Has it helped create more parity?

The Last Stretch Podcast talks about the CWHL folding from the perspective of a Montreal player and staff member.

Players in Australian pay roughly $2,000 to pay in the AWIHL.

The impact of CWHL folding on Chinese National Team ahead of the next Winter Olympic Games. “There was talk two years ago that the women’s team might even win a medal … but if the Chinese players are not able to hone their skills … that already ambitious goal will start to look firmly out of reach.”

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Brianna Decker

Brianna Decker is hoping to help the United States win a fifth consecutive gold medal at the IIHF Women’s World Championships. She has tallied two goals and two assists through the quarterfinals. We spoke to Decker at USA Hockey Training Camp ahead of the tournament. We chatted the Clarkson Cup, Wisconsin winning the National Championship, and what to expect from USA in Finland. Photo Credit: Matthew Raney

Erica L. Ayala: I’m curious to get your thoughts on what the Calgary season has been like I mean, obviously one of the top two teams but it seemed like you had some up and down some you know, with your coaching changes (Shannon Miller stepped down in December) and trying to work some things out. So what do you take away from the season?

Brianna Decker: Definitely, I mean, obviously was a change for us (Alex Rigsby, Kacey Bellamy, and Tori & Zoe Hickel) to go out there and then the coaching change. It was tough, I think a little bit for our team just a good little transition for us back in the fall. But you know, I like the way our team rallied around. We had so much experience so much skill, but you know, what my favorite part about is that we worked our butts off day in and day out and that definitely showed off during the playoffs. I think we played our best hockey games in the playoffs and that was most important part of our season.

ELA: Obviously you were new to that team. How do you think you fit in and what was your role?

BD: Yeah, I set high expectations for myself, but also the girls I think that what were there set high expectations for me as well. So, I mean, obviously I enjoyed my time playing with Zoe Hickel along with Rebecca Johnston. It was a heck of a season I think we had. We were lucky to play together all season and gelled really well. They definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. And I hope I did the same to them as well. But, it was a it was a great season and I was really happy that I ended up going there.

ELA: It was pretty quick turnaround from the celebration to now get into training camp, but were you able to celebrate proper?

BD: Yeah, a little bit. We had a flight on Sunday night so we couldn’t do too much but definitely had some drinks with our teammates. Kacey, Rigby and I we’re lucky enough to be able to spend some time with them. You know, we give a lot of credit to those girls. You know, the ones who aren’t on the national team, the ones who work every single day and then train with us and play with us. So I just, you know, it’s good to be able to spend a little bit time with them.

ELA: Just as you were finishing up the Clarkson Cup Final, the NCAA National Championship started.

BD: (Smiles) Yeah!

ELA: Where were you and you found out Wisconsin won?

BD: We were on the bus headed to celebration like after party thing. And right as I get off the ice from our Clarkson Cup Final, a couple fans were like, “Hey, Wisconsin’s up one zero.” So it was cool to see. I think Alex Rigsby and I were – not to downplay the Clarkson Cup – but we were just so excited that Wisconsin won. It was a long time coming, well deserved, and couldn’t be more proud to be a Badger and had cheer them on all season.

ELA: You’ve been part of the leadership core on this team. But there are some changes that are happening as players are sitting out for numerous reasons. And then you also have some new talent here. As a veteran as a leader, what do you see? And what are you most excited about for this team going to Finland?

BD: Yeah, I think we have a good mix of experienced players. Obviously, like you said, we’re missing a few, you know, the [Lamoureux Twins] and Meghan Duggan and stuff. But, you know, we have enough leaders on this team that will carry us through the tournament. But also the youth [have] great, great talent and work really hard. And you know, most of all, they have great character and that’s what I’m most excited about.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala