Five at the IX: Kendall Linnenkugel — Feel good stories

The IX: Hockey Friday with The Ice Garden, April 26, 2024

Happy Friday! I’m Leighann from The Ice Garden here with your women’s hockey weekly updates as well as five questions with Kendall Linnenkugel, former Bowling Green goaltender and current color commentator for the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

Continue reading with a subscription to The IX

Get unlimited access to our exclusive coverage of a varitety of women’s sports, including our premium newsletter by subscribing today!

Join today

Kendall brings a unique perspective to the sport of hockey and especially college hockey as she not only played for Bowling Green but had a hand in reinstating the previously-dissolved club team for the school. Now she brings her expertise to the men’s game on the broadcast for Toledo’s pro hockey team, the Walleye, who are among the most successful teams in the league.

The IX Newsletter: Six different women’s sports in your inbox every week!

Subscribe now and join us, just $6 a month or $60 a year. It’s the women’s sports media network we all wished for, and now it’s here!

Five at the IX with Kendall Linnenkugel

After raising money and resources for two years to help get the Bowling Green Falcons back on the ice, Kendall started in goal for the first game back on February 21, 2021, where she faced 74 shots and earned MVP of the game.

Leighann Strollo: You attended Bowling Green State University and were a part of the women’s hockey team there after years of them not having one. What was that experience like, especially knowing you were part of the group to bring that team back?

Kendall Linnenkugel: It was an incredible experience! I was a little depressed at first, because I was verbally committed to a different college, and things kind of fell through the cracks, and the team was no longer a program for a couple of seasons. I also was recruited elsewhere before I verbally committed to that college. After that commitment fell through, I was also offered an academic scholarship to Bowling Green (BG), so I accepted that scholarship and attended BG that fall. I was a bit sad to be at a college that didn’t even have a women’s hockey team after being committed to play in college elsewhere, but I chatted with some girls in class and I figured out that they also had my same situation. So, we got together and decided to put in a hockey team. It was a long process that I only got to take advantage of my junior and senior year, but it was well worth it. And being able to still watch the program grow and flourish is so amazing to see. After a lot of road blocks, I still got to fulfill a dream of playing college hockey, and I don’t think I would change anything about that experience. I learned a lot throughout that entire process of putting the team together and being able to actually make it a reality. 

LS: Women’s hockey is growing very quickly, especially in colleges across the continent. Michigan is a great example of a school with a huge push for the team to become a D1 program like their very successful men’s team. In your mind, what is the importance of providing that opportunity for women’s programs, players and the future of the sport?

KL: I absolutely love the idea of the University of Michigan putting in a DI program, and personally I feel it is long overdue. The metro Detroit area is a major hot spot for girls hockey, and great girls hockey at that. Many girls hockey teams from Detroit go to and/or win nationals every year, so the fact that there hasn’t been a DI NCAA program in the state of Michigan baffles me. I feel like this move would be an amazing step at supporting the game of hockey for girls and I believe we’ll start to see a lot more girls hockey teams popping up around the area if this becomes a reality. 

LS: You have had the opportunity to work with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL as a color commentator this season which is super close to BG. Typically not known as one of the hockey hotbeds of the world, it’s a very successful market. How important is it to grow the sport in those ‘nontraditional’ hockey spaces, especially for women?

KL: I have been so blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the Walleye organization, especially in a field that not many people, men or women, can say they get to do for a living. You are correct, Toledo isn’t necessarily a “hot spot” for hockey, and the state of Ohio in general isn’t either as compared to other areas. However, Toledo is rather close to Detroit, which is obviously home to the Red Wings, and Columbus is also not too far of a drive either, which is home to the Blue Jackets. So, Toledo really is in a great spot in between two NHL programs, so it leaves that door open to grow the game of hockey if it can be promoted. The Walleye’s recent success at hockey has really exploded the sport in Toledo, for boys and girls. Although girl’s hockey isn’t as popular in Ohio as it is in Michigan, I have been seeing the amount of girls in hockey absolutely exploding around here. I’m hoping that the city can continue to nurture this growing passion for the sport amongst everyone in this area. So, although Toledo isn’t necessarily a hockey hot bed comparatively, it has a lot of potential to be very very soon. Being able to be a part of the cause for the game growing in the area is also an amazing feeling. 

LS: I am personally usually a fan of chaotic goalie energy. As a goalie yourself, did you ever have any weird superstitions or routines?

KL: I love this question. I used to have a few superstitions, but now I only really have 1 or 2. My pregame meal used to be chocolate milk and a crunch bar, or else I did not believe I would do well at all. That is the one I don’t do anymore mostly because it gives me a stomach ache now. My other one is my right equipment absolutely must go on before my left. Otherwise it throws my whole game off because it feels weird. Another one I have, mostly because I am a very short goalie, I use my stick to center myself in my net because I have to come out further to take down angles to make up for my height. However, if I do not hit the posts with my stick to center myself every time the puck leaves the zone, I completely lose my sense of the net placement behind me. It’s like my reassurance that I am in the right spot. If I don’t do that before the puck comes back my way, it’s game over for me. 

LS: What has been your favorite part of both playing and getting to work in hockey?

KL: I love being able to play the sport I talk about. I do still play as well. Hockey, I believe, is one of the only sports out there that you can play for your entire life. There are so many adult leagues out there all the way up to 75+. It really is a sport for everybody, and to me that is very special. Being able to work in the sport I love is even better. I look forward to going to work every single day. I don’t even really look at it as having a “cool” job in broadcasting, I look at it as simply getting to do what I love. I’ve always loved broadcasting, I love the game of hockey, and I love being able to just talk about the game. And I am blessed that I get to combine all of this into one occupation. I would love to be able to take this career further. I genuinely have a blast every single game. 

Order “Rare Gems” and save 30%

Howard Megdal, founder and editor of The Next and The IX, has written a new book! This deeply reported story follows four connected generations of women’s basketball pioneers, from Elvera “Peps” Neuman to Cheryl Reeve and from Lindsay Whalen to Sylvia Fowles and Paige Bueckers.

If you enjoy his coverage of women’s basketball every Wednesday, you will love “Rare Gems: How Four Generations of Women Paved the Way for the WNBA.” Click the link below and enter MEGDAL30 at checkout.

More links this week:

A guide to some of the best links in women’s hockey from the past seven days

Emma Seitz and Lauren Bellefontaine will be returning to MoDo after their first year with the club. Jon Häggqvist details it here: Seitz and Bellefontaine remain

After the news of the big move from the Arizona Coyotes, Lyndsey Fry establishes foundation to ensure youth hockey’s future in the Valley of the Sun. Craig Morgan gives the floor to Fry in this interview, who is an former professional player in North America, Arizona native and outspoken advocate for the growth of women’s hockey — especially in nontraditional markets.

Simon Hopkins and Nathan Fung team up for The 25th hour: Lexie Adzija — Making it, a video detailing Adzija’s road to professional hockey in the PWHL.

Ian Kennedy of The Hockey News spoke to Elle Hartje about being Thankful for a future that can now include the PWHL this week. In the story, she discusses her time at Yale, move to the PWHL and more.

Claire Thompson has been a big name in the Canadian hockey scene for a few years now and is officially declaring for the upcoming PWHL draft. Hailey Salvian tweeted about it here: Claire Thompson is officially declaring for the PWHL Draft

PWHL Ottawa fans not just welcomed, but celebrated at inaugural Pride Night is the feel good piece by Ian Kennedy you need today. The title says it all but the details say so much more.

While it’s not just one story I’m linking here, a week or so after Canada won Women’s Worlds in OT over the United States, TIG’s recaps and features on the tournament and each individual team have been posted on the website if you’re looking for a reason to start your 2025 power rankings now.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by The Ice Garden