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Zumwinkle Enters U18 Women’s World Championship with Confidence

By Dan Scifo - Special to USA Hockey, 01/03/17, 10:45AM EST


Practice time with the national team has been valuable learning experience

Several training sessions with the U.S. National Women’s Team has Grace Zumwinkle brimming with confidence heading into the upcoming IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championships in Zlin, Czech Republic.

“Training with the older girls has helped me tremendously as a person and a player, especially with some of the leadership traits that I hope to bring to the younger group of players,” Zumwinkle said. “It’s an opportunity to build another piece of my game and get to where I want to become someday.”

Zumwinkle, a native of Excelsior, Minnesota, practiced with the U.S. National Women’s Team recently on two separate occasions. The first came in October in a pre-camp for the Four Nations Cup, and the second took place in December before a two-game series against Team Canada.

“It wasn’t something that I was expecting, and when I found out about it, I was elated because those opportunities don’t come around too often,” Zumwinkle said. “It showed me the work ethic and how those older players got to where they are today. It doesn’t come easy and I got to see all the sacrifices they had to make first-hand, which was awesome.”

The team camaraderie also stood out to Zumwinkle in addition to the style of play and pace of the game.

“The experience really showed me what I have to do to get to the next level,” Zumwinkle said. “All the players through both experiences were super welcoming and they were there to guide us. They made us compete hard and it was awesome to see what they brought to the table. It was certainly something we had to try and match.”

There haven’t been many players in Minnesota who have been able to match Zumwinkle’s production at Breck High School. Also a high school tennis and golf standout, Zumwinkle has scored 114 goals and 183 points in 107 games her high school career.

Zumwinkle has been just as productive throughout her USA Hockey career. She was a member of the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team that claimed gold in 2016 and twice played on the U.S. Women’s Under-18 Select Team at the Under-18 Series against Canada.

Zumwinkle scored a goal and tallied two assists in five games during the Under-18 Women’s Championship. She found her groove at the most recent Under-18 Series with three goals and five points in three games played.

“The team really bonded, especially the week or two before, which attributed to our success,” Zumwinkle said. “The linemates I had, they varied each game, but we found each other, which helped us generate good scoring chances.”

In addition to the opportunities Zumwinkle experienced with the U.S. National Women’s Team, she also had the chance to participate in a scrimmage with the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League. That took place before the 2016 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship and featured several members of the U.S. National Women’s Team.

“I think it was a good opportunity for our team to play that game,” Zumwinkle said. “The pace they play is obviously faster than what we’re used to, so it was a good opportunity to see where we were as a team and some development points we still needed to work on, which was awesome for our team success.”

In addition to reaching new heights with with Team USA, Zumwinkle hopes to have additional success in college and has committed to play at the University of Minnesota. 

“I’m excited to continue playing and getting better in college and will try to earn my way with the U.S. program whenever possible because it’s amazing to put on that jerseys and represent your country."

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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