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Anderson Takes Advantage of Opportunity with U.S. WNT

By Dan Scifo - Special to USAHockey.com, 09/29/15, 2:00PM MDT

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Bemidji State star is holding on to her spot after her unexpected call up to the national team.

​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.

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