Stephanie Anderson can vividly remember the phone call.
The 22-year-old Bemidji State University women’s hockey standout forward was on the line with news that changed the course of her career: She was getting another chance to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“I didn’t even know what to think because I wasn’t expecting it,” Anderson said. “I’m humbled and honored to be part of the program, and I was in awe that they chose me.”
Anderson, a North St. Paul, Minn. native, took full advantage of her opportunity, helping the U.S. win its fifth IIHF Women’s World Championship in the last six tries, capturing the title earlier this year in Sweden.
There was a time when she didn’t know if she would ever get that opportunity.
The then-17-year-old Anderson had been a member of the U.S. Under-18 Team and played in one game during the 2010 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship in Chicago before developing pneumonia.
“I got sent home because I was sick,” Anderson said. “I just kind of fell off the radar. I hadn’t heard anything from USA Hockey until last year.”
Anderson, a senior at Bemidji State, was an assistant captain during the 2014-15 season, leading the team with 14 goals, while finishing second with 24 points. Jim Scanlan, Anderson’s coach at Bemidji State, told her that he was in contact with USA Hockey.
“I kind of laughed because I didn’t think there was any chance,” Anderson said. “They started requesting video, they came to more games and I was invited to their winter camp.
“They wanted me to be part of the team.”
Anderson participated in the USA Hockey Women’s Winter Training Camp in December, a national evaluation camp that featured 40 of the top players in the nation.
“I definitely knew it was my last chance,” Anderson said. “Going into the winter camp, it was all or nothing. I focused on using my speed; how I forecheck, create and pass; and obviously, they saw something.”
Anderson became the first player in Bemidji State program history to represent the U.S. in an international competition.
“When I was first told that I made the national team, I was honestly pretty surprised,” Anderson said. “I hadn’t been noticed a lot for the past two years, so when they told me I made the national team, I was a little shocked.”
Anderson was fairly new to the team, so she didn’t know many players, several of whom had been on the U.S. team that captured a silver medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“I was extremely quiet when we were in Sweden,” Anderson said. “I observed a lot and watched the older girls and how they carried themselves and how they treated other girls on the team.
“Those players are so humble to everyone around them even though they play on one of the best hockey teams in the world.”
Anderson continues to take from the experience, learning each day and recalling how the most elite players in the world reach their lofty status.
“I remember my first testing session, I was watching the older girls and how much weight they could put up and how many chin ups they could do,” Anderson said. “It just really amazed me how much weight they could do. I never had to push myself to reach those levels, but it was definitely an eye-opening experience, knowing what I needed to do to get to the level I needed to be at.”
This summer she stayed in Bemidji and worked out five days a week, getting in the weight room often and adding weight in an effort to become stronger.
“When I went to the National Festival this August in Lake Placid, I could tell the difference,” Anderson said. “We’re the fastest hockey team in the world, so you have to be able to keep up with everybody.
“I grew as much in a hockey sense as much as I did personally, just from learning, watching and observing these great players and competing with them at the same time.”
Anderson already feels a change and believes she is a better player. She’s faster, her shot is harder and it’s all because Anderson was part of the experience and realized what she needed to do to improve.
“I took from that and it helped me improve my game overall,” she said. “Just because I’m so new to this team, I got the chance to play in the world championships with some of the best players in the world.
“I’m more than humbled and honored to be part of the program, I can see myself fitting in, playing with these girls for years to come, and that makes me excited. I told myself, ‘This can’t be my last camp.’ I need to keep getting better and better, and that has been my mindset.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
WOODRIDGE, Ill. - Ten different players factored in the scoring as the U.S. Women's National Under-18 Team advanced to the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women's U18 Championship gold-medal game with a 5-0 win over Sweden here tonight in the semifinal round in Walter Bush Rink. With the win, Team USA improved to 4-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) and will face Canada in the gold-medal game tomorrow (April 3) at 7 p.m. CT.
"We came out with real good jump and played hard for 60 minutes," said Katie King, head coach for Team USA. "We've put ourselves in the position we want to be in and we're excited to play for the gold medal."
The U.S. took a 1-0 lead with aBrittany Ammerman (River Vale, N.J.) marker at 1:22 of the opening frame. After receiving an Emily Pfalzer(Getzville, N.Y.) pass near the top of the right circle, Ammerman skated to the high slot and wristed the puck past Swedish netminder Sofia Carlstrom low to the far side for her fifth tally of the tournament. Gabie Figueroa(Branchburg, N.J.) also collected an assist on the play.
Rachael Bona (Coon Rapids, Minn.) extended Team USA's lead to 2-0 at 12:37. Lyndsey Fry (Chandler, Ariz.) passed behind the net to Bona, who skated to the right of Carlstrom before sending the puck through the netminder's pads on the short side.
Team USA jumped out to a 3-0 advantage just 34 seconds into the middle frame. Amanda Pelkey (Montpelier, Vt.) fed Kendall Coyne (Palos Heights, Ill.), who came down the ice two-on-one with Taylor Wasylk (Port Huron, Mich.). After the pair exchanged passes, Coyne found Wasylk for a one-timer.
Alex Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.) netted her seventh goal of the tournament at 12:13 to give the U.S. a 4-0 lead. While on the power play, Carpenter received a pass from Pelkey, deked around a Swedish defender and fired the puck on the backhand over Carlstrom's shoulder.
At 4:29 of the final frame, Fry extended Team USA's lead to 5-0. Melissa Bizzari (Stowe, Vt.) skated down the ice along the right boards and sent a cross-ice pass to Fry, who directed the puck into the net to close out the game's scoring.
U.S. netminder Alex Rigsby (Delafield, Wis.) turned aside all 11 shots faced for her second shutout of the tournament.
NOTES: Amanda Pelkey was named Team USA's player of the game ... The U.S. was 1-for-6 on the power play, while Sweden was 0-for-4 ... Team USA has not allowed a power-play goal all tournament (18-18) ... The U.S. registered its third straight shutout ... Team USA will face Canada in the gold-medal game of the IIHF World Women's U18 Championship for the third straight year ... All tournament games are available via live webstream at USAHockey.FASTHockey.com... Tournament photos are available at ImagesOnIce.net... The IIHF World Women's U18 Championship, which is being held for the first time on U.S. soil at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena, is being held for the third time ... The eight-nation tournament includes Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden and the United States ... The U.S. is the two-time defending world champion, after capturing gold in Füssen, Germany, in 2009, and in Calgary in 2008 ... Katie King, three-time Olympian and head women's hockey coach at Boston College, is Team USA's head coach, with Shelley Looney, two-time Olympian and girls'/women's hockey director for the New Jersey Colonials, and Catherine Hanson, former U.S. Women's National Team member who spent seven seasons as an assistant women's hockey coach at The Ohio State University, serving as assistant coaches ... For more information on the 2010 IIHF World Women's U18 Championship, visit Chicago2010Hockey.com.
Scoring By Period
SWE 0 - 0 - 0 - 0
USA 2 - 2 - 1 - 5
First Period - Scoring: 1, USA, Ammerman (Pfalzer, Figueroa), 1:22; 2, USA, Bona (Fry), 12:37. Penalties: SWE, Lowenhielm (hooking), 2:48; SWE, Backlin (holding), 8:55; SWE, Hedengren (hooking), 12:43; USA, Hickel (holding), 15:51.
Second Period - Scoring: 3, USA, Wasylk (Coyne, Pelkey), :34; 4, USA, Carpenter (Pelkey, Pfalzer), 12:13 (pp). Penalties: SWE, Hedin (tripping), 5:12; SWE, Backlin (tripping), 10:49; SWE, Holmgren (body checking), 16:22.
Third Period - Scoring: 5, USA, Fry (Bizzari), 4:29. Penalties: USA, Pelkey (hooking), 1:02; USA, Team (too many players), 9:20; USA, Gedman (holding), 20:00.
Shots by Period 1 2 3 Total
SWE 0 2 9 11
USA 19 10 12 41
Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 Total
SWE, Carlstrom, 60:00 19-17 10-8 12-11 41-36
USA, Rigsby, 60:00 0-0 2-2 9-9 11-11
Power Play: SWE 0-4; USA 1-6
Penalties: SWE 6-12; USA 4-8
Officials: Referee-Melanie Bordeleau (CAN); Linesmen-Ilona Novotna (CZE), Johanna Tauriainen (FIN)