Although the Yale women’s hockey season may have come to a close on Feb. 20, one Bulldog had another opportunity to lace up her skates last week. Forward Phoebe Staenz ’17 took to the ice for her native Switzerland this past week while competing the Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in British Columbia, Canada.
Despite a seventh-place finish by the Swiss National Team, which is ranked fourth in the world, Staenz notched a game-winning goal and two assists over five games. The Olympian increased her experience playing with Switzerland, a team for which she has competed on the international stage since 2011.
“I love playing on the international level,” Staenz said. “Everybody loves the game, and everyone is just there for hockey and no distractions. It’s so much fun. When you step out on the ice, you have to be ready because all the countries bring their best people.”
The World Championship takes place every year when the Winter Olympics do not occur and features eight of the best teams in international women’s hockey. The tournament began with a round-robin preliminary round from March 28–31 during which Switzerland was in the B grouping with Japan, Czech Republic and Sweden.
Of those three teams, Switzerland defeated only Japan, with Staenz’s goal coming in the clutch. The forward’s game-winning tally, 1:10 into the third period, gave the Swiss their third goal in a 4–2 win. In the consolation round, Switzerland swept Japan with 3–1 and 4–0 victories to lock up seventh place.
“The game-winning goal was the icing on the cake,” Staenz said. “I really enjoyed playing with my linemates, and my [defense] set me up with the perfect pass. Scoring is always a bonus for me. It doesn’t happen often, so when it does I am so, so happy.”
Yet scoring happened for Staenz this season more often than nearly every other Yale player. She finished her junior year tied for second on the Yale roster with nine goals on the season, and her teammates were quick to praise her offensive skill.
“[Staenz] generates a lot of forward momentum and gets a lot of shots on net,” forward Jamie Haddad ’16 said. “She is always pushing herself on the ice and in the weight room. She dedicates all her free time to improving herself as a player.”
The Swiss team’s seventh-place finish did not automatically qualify the country for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The squad will get another chance to qualify in February 2017.
Staenz though already has one Olympics under her belt. She took home a bronze medal in the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, where she found the net in the team’s 4–3 win over Sweden in the bronze-medal match. Staenz has also participated in the previous four World Championships, and another three on the under-18 team.
The hectic schedule throughout the week featured meetings, practices and games, in addition to much-appreciated team bonding, Staenz said. However, she noted that the time constraints were sometimes difficult to juggle with school work.
According to her teammates, the Olympian’s extensive international experience benefits the Bulldogs as a whole as well.
“One of [Staenz’s] best skills is definitely her level of competition and her ability to make something out of nothing,” forward Eden Murray ’18 said. “It is very inspiring to see her excel in that atmosphere and then bring what she has learned back to us.”
Although another Olympic run could be on the horizon for Staenz, she said that for right now, her main focuses are school and off-ice training.
Staenz will get back on the ice in August, when she next joins both Yale and the Swiss team for practice.
The United States and Canada reached the final of the event for the 17th consecutive time. Alex Carpenter, a North Reading, Massachusetts native, scored a game-winning overtime goal to seal a 1–0 win and championship for the U.S.