Having led Switzerland to its first-ever bronze medal at the 2012 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Burlington, Vermont, Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling is heading to Ottawa with great momentum.
After a four-year career with the Northeastern Huskies of the NCAA, Schelling competed with the Brampton Thunder during the 2012-13 Canadian Women’s Hockey League season. Canadian hockey fans were treated to watching one of the world’s greatest goaltenders.
Seven of her teammates on Brampton have been involved with the Canadian National Team (Gillian Apps, Vicki Bendus, Bailey Bram, Lori Dupuis, Jayna Hefford, Cherie Piper and Liz Knox).
Of note, Schelling won her first two starts in the CWHL (October 21, a 4-3 win vs. Toronto, and October 28, an 8-2 triumph over Alberta).
Schelling would share ice time with former Canadian national team goaltender Liz Knox.
Her rookie season was one that she enjoyed.
“Overall, it was really good. I did not expect to be playing that much. It was quite a lot of games,” Schelling said.
In her rookie season with the Brampton Thunder of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, she appeared in 14 contests. While ranking third in the league in minutes played, she posted a 6-6 record, with one of the losses coming in a shootout. In addition, she was tied for first in the league in shutouts while ranking fifth in goals-against average.
During her rookie campaign, there were three times that she logged performances of 40 saves or more (her best was a 48-save effort in a 7-5 loss to Montreal on December 8). Schelling would end her season with a shutout in a convincing 7-0 triumph against the Toronto Furies.
Playing in rinks throughout Canada, Schelling noticed the passion that Canadian hockey fans have. “Although I was used to college hockey, this was something new. The crowd is a lot different, more energetic,” she said.
Schelling was nominated for the 2013 CWHL Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. When asked if she expected the nominations, she replied, “Not at all. All the nominations were pretty unexpected. There are so many great players in the league that I do not see myself as out there as others.”
As one of the few Europeans competing in the CWHL, Schelling commented on the potential of more Europeans joining the league.
“For now, as I see it, we have to work while we are here and earn money. I am finishing my final year of university so it was convenient for me.
"For some players, it is hard to take a year off from work to play. If the league keeps developing, maybe in the future there might more opportunities for Europeans to play here” Schelling said.
Her performance at the 2012 Worlds (in Burlington, Vermont) was remarkable. She won the Directorate Award for Best Goalkeeper and she was named to the Media All-Star Team.
During the bronze medal game against Finland in 2012, the opposing goaltender was Noora Raty, who led Finland to bronze at the Vancouver Winter Games.
“She (Raty) is always on top of her game. Every time she is on the ice, it makes a huge difference for the Finnish team,” Schelling said.
Schelling made a valiant 50 saves against Finland to win the first-ever bronze for the Swiss.
“The key for us to win was to beat her (Raty). We got the puck through her and she did not have one of her best games,” she said.
As Schelling hopes to win another medal with Switzerland at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds, she'll be satisfied with a medal of any distinction.
“I would definitely say winning another bronze would be absolutely amazing. We are going to looking forward to it as this is our goal,” she said.
All quotes obtained first-hand unless otherwise indicated.
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