Olympics hockey finds home at Hamline

Head Coach Natalie Darwitz reflects upon her time as an Olympian and the current Women’s Hockey team.

Rebecca Higgins, Senior Reporter

It may seem that Hamline has nothing to do with the Olympics, however, Head Coach Natalie Darwitz of the Women’s Hockey team proves that statement to be false. She competed three times in the Olympics for the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team bringing home two silver medals and one bronze medal.

“It is an honor to compete for your country and be at the highest level of your sport,” Darwitz said. “It took a lot of hard work, not only by me but also my family supporting me.”

Darwitz’s successors on the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team brought intensity to the preliminaries, winning 3-1 against Finland and 5-0 against Olympic Athletes from Russia. However they cracked under the pressure to Canada.

After a fruitless first period for both teams, Canada was determined and scored two points, giving them the advantage. With just 23 seconds into the third period, USA made their presences known scoring their first point of the game.

The game was at 1-2 in favor of Canada, U.S. attacked their opponent’s net. In the last seconds of the game, they gave it one last shot to tie the game and drive it into overtime. But when the clock struck zero it was the Canadians that emerged victorious.

“[The U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team] needs to keep it simple,” Darwitz said. “They are not being a team and having fun. When you watch the Canadians, you can tell that they are having fun.”

With the Semifinals, Bronze-Medal Game and Gold-Medal Game taking place this week, the U.S. Team needs to play the game they grew up playing if they want to bring the gold home and boost the U.S.’s medal count.

Currently the U.S. is ranked fifth in the Olympic medal count with a total of nine medals: five gold, two silver and two bronze. Germany leads the board with 17 medals including; nine gold, four silver and four bronze.

“Olympic medal counts are always tough to assess the full body of work and truly how good our U.S. team is. Performing in one or two opportunities after four years of training is tough,” Athletic Director Jason Verdugo said. “You just hope they are the absolute best on that day and sports doesn’t always work that way.”

While all of the U.S. teams are dreaming of gold, it seems that brining in a veteran might be the way to go.

“I’ve learned a lot from [Head Coach Darwitz]. She’s very demanding of her team and wants them to think about how hockey will help them in life, not just at Hamline. She’s a great teacher of the game,” Verdugo said. “If U.S. Hockey wants to win gold in the future, they should have her involved.”

While the Olympics might be in Darwtiz’s past, hockey is not. She is currently coaching Hamline Women’s Hockey team into the number one team in the MIAC and easily secured them a spot in the playoffs.

“We have been pushing more the last month for the playoffs to ensure we have more grit and battle than any other team,” Darwitz said.

Darwitz’s grit and battle extends beyond her time as an Olympian and follows her as a Piper. The Pipers finished off the regular season on Feb. 17 with a loss of 0-3 to the St. Thomas Tommies.