Earlier this month, Montpelier, VT native and UVM Senior forward Amanda Pelkey became the state’s first female hockey player ever selected to a senior national team for USA Hockey. It has been a goal of Pelkey’s to represent the Red, White, and Blue on the world stage. She finally got her chance with Team USA at the Four Nations Cup in Kamloops, British Columbia a few weeks ago.
GMD caught up with Amanda about her experience with the national team for the first time.
GMD: What did it feel like when you found out you made the Four Nations roster? How exactly did you find out?
AP: I got an email saying (US National Women’s Team) Coach Klee and Reagan Carey were going to be contacting me but I did not know what the phone call was about. The phone call time was during (a UVM) practice. I informed my coaches and gave my athletic trainer my phone on the bench for when they called. It was quite suspenseful waiting for that call! When they called, I took my phone and went underneath the bleachers and talked to them for about 10 minutes. This is when they informed me that I will be part of the USA Women’s National Team competing in the Four Nations Cup. Before the call, my coach, Jim Plumer, gave me a hint that something good was about to happen. I teared up a little bit during the call, I’m not going to lie. Right then I pulled myself together and joined my team back on the ice to finish the rest of practice.
GMD: What was your relationship like with coach Klee? Obviously you got to know him this summer while playing with the U-22 team. Did you get to know him at all on a personal level or was it mostly about hockey?
AP: My relationship with Coach Klee and the rest of the staff is great. He’s an awesome coach, very technical with the small details about the game but also allows room for creativity. He also is very outgoing with a lot of humor so it keeps us all pretty lose and not so much uptight as everyone may think! Our practices were so fun, full of energy, especially when Coach Klee joins in on the drills and plays defense; we all make sure to score when it’s a 2 on 1. On a more serious note, everyone on the team respects Coach Klee whenever he has something critical to say. Every time I made a mistake during a shift, he corrected it right away. Every piece of advice he gave me, I took to heart and will use the advice to take my game to the next level. Everyone got to know him on a personal level as well.
GMD: Who was your roommate during the Tournament?
AP: My roommate was Shiann Darkangelo. She plays at Quinnipiac University. I have known her since we were 15 and played one year with her on the U-18 National Team. We had a great time!
GMD: What was your daily routine/schedule like?
AP: Our schedule was pretty flexible while we were in Kamloops. A lot of the girl’s families were there to watch, including mine, so it was nice to be able to have enough time to visit with them, shop, and go to dinner at night. Since Kamloops was 3 hours behind eastern time it took a couple of days to get used to the time difference. Shiann and I would wake up at 6:00 am and not be able to go back to sleep. Breakfast was usually from 8:30-9:30 and we could go whenever we wanted which was nice because all of us have different routines on game day. Shortly after that, we would leave for the rink for a short 30 minutes pre game skate. After that we would head back to the hotel and have just enough time to get a pre game flush (massage of the legs,) a solid 45 minute nap in and of course the famous pre game coffee run to Starbucks which most of the team participated in. We would get to the rink about 2 and a half hours before the game. After the game we had the rest of the night to relax and get dinner with our parents. A lot of other free time consisted of a couple teammates scaring the rest of the team. Hilary Knight and Brianne McLaughin Bittle had a lot of time on their hands one day. They scared everyone by peaking in our hotel windows with old man costume masks. It was terrifying. They also bought fake cock crouches and put them outside our hotel doors so when we opened it, we screamed. And we did. So, along with the excitement and hard work of practices and games there was a lot of time for other activities!
GMD: With the tournament being in Canada, there were some big crowds. How did you & the team handle the noise level?
AP: I think that was the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of and it was absolutely thrilling! Although every time that Canada touched the puck the crowd screamed. At first, it took some time to shake off the nerves and the butterflies and just play hockey. After I took a couple minutes to calm down, the crowd kept mine and the team’s energy level up.
GMD: This was your first time with the senior national team. The US and Canada have a storied and fierce rivalry. What was it like to be a part of?
AP: Sometimes it’s hard to come up with the words to describe the feeling. It felt like a rush of adrenaline knowing that every play that happened during the game was crucial. With that being said, I had to find a happy medium to be patient with the puck and not rush and force plays to happen. The rivalry is always going be a big one. I always call it a healthy competition. You can tell amongst players that there is a bitterness from past events like 2014 Sochi Olympics but also a respect too amongst the players because they share such important moments with each other. Even if you are rivalries.
GMD: What are one or two of your favorite moments from your 4-Nations experience.
AP: I know this may sound cliche, but walking into the locker room and seeing the jersey again was one of my favorite moments. I smiled right when I saw it and just took a deep breathe and soaked it all in. The other favorite moment was before the gold medal game looking around the locker room at everyone and seeing how everyone was acting when they were fully dressed preparing for the game. Everyone was preparing differently. Silent at first. Then slowly the excitement sparked. Just knowing that everyone in the locker room was thinking of the same thing makes you feel so connected as a team. Even when there are no words being spoken. The only thing we had in our minds, especially the veterans, was simply, ‘Beat Canada’.