It was always a dream for Alli Altmann to break camp with the U.S. Women’s National Team as a player, but it never came to fruition.
As a coach, Altmann has already reached the pinnacle.
Altmann has worked with USA Hockey goaltenders for the past five years, but she will make her debut with the U.S. Women’s National Team as the goaltending coach during the upcoming IIHF Women’s World Championship scheduled to take place May 6-16 in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia.
“It’s something that didn’t happen for me as a player, but for it to happen as a coach is one of those experiences that’s hard to describe,” Altmann said. “Everyone at USA Hockey has always pushed me to be better, from believing in me and knowing that my expertise and what I can bring to the table is valued. This is probably the biggest honor a coach in any sport can feel, is to have an opportunity to help their national team win a gold medal.”
Altmann, of Eagan, Minnesota, played four seasons collegiately at Minnesota State University, recording a career .901 save percentage and a school-record 110 games played. Altmann, who played professionally for the Minnesota Whitecaps, also played in the first-ever National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) game in Minnesota against the Boston Pride.
Altmann, a three-time WCHA All-Academic honoree, was a dual major of pre-dental and pre-med in college and initially intended to enter the medical field. But those plans changed, and she currently owns and works as the vice president at DEVENIR Goaltenders, a Minnesota-based goaltender school.
“Obviously, hockey has been my passion my whole life,” Altmann said. “It’s all about giving back what hockey has given me.”
In 2017, Altmann received her first opportunity with USA Hockey when she was invited to fill in as goaltender coach for the 2017 U.S. Under-18 Women’s Select Team, which competed at the Under-18 Series against Canada in Lake Placid, New York.
From there, Altmann has helped Team USA win two gold medals and one silver throughout her time as the goaltending coach with the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team.
“Alli is a fantastic addition to our coaching staff,” said Katie Million, director of the women’s national team programs for USA Hockey. “Between her years of experience as both a player and coach and her commitment to excellence, she will prepare our goaltenders well for worlds. We have a gold medal to defend from the 2019 championship and Alli will be a crucial piece in our success to defend it.”
Altmann’s first role behind the bench came in 2018 at the IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship when she helped the U.S. to a gold medal. She was part of the silver medal-winning team the following year, and won gold again during the 2020 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship as the goaltending coach.
“Obviously, most of my experience has been with the under-18 national program, but any time we go into a tournament where we represent our country, my job is to make sure our athletes and our goalies are performing at their best from a physical and mental standpoint,” Altmann said. “It’s fun to work with the best of the best and we have the goal of coming home with a gold medal.”
Altmann will work with Alex Cavallini, Aerin Frankel and Nicole Hensley at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
Cavallini helped the U.S. to a gold medal during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, and five Women’s World Championship gold medals. Frankel most recently led Northeastern to the NCAA Division I championship game and won the 2021 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the nation. Hensley also won gold at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and two Women’s World Championships in 2016 and 2017.
“I’m excited about our group of goaltenders for this tournament,” Altmann said. “I think we have three goalies who can really play, so it’s going to be fun.”
The U.S. has claimed gold in five consecutive world championships. Additionally, the U.S. has captured the top prize in eight of the last nine Women’s World Championships. In 2019, the U.S. won a record fifth straight gold medal against Finland in Espoo, Finland.
Altmann wants to contribute to the sixth consecutive gold medal in her debut with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“I’m super excited about the team we have,” Altmann said. “I think we have a great combination of veteran leadership, who knows what it’s like to win gold, and also great energy from the younger players with us for the first time. I think we always have expectations that we’re going to come home with the gold.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.