Proudly serving as an alternate captain for Sweden, Elin Holmlov brings serious presence to the ice.
While the Swedish team is a very young one, Holmlov is excited to be on the same roster as the next generation of stars for the blue and gold.
“Our young players are very talented,” she said. “They bring a lot of energy and excitement.”
Like fellow Swedish players Erika Holst, Maria Rooth and Pernilla Winberg, Holmlov also competed at the University of Minnesota Duluth. While competing with the UMD Bulldogs, she played for Shannon Miller, who coached the Canadian contingent at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.
The experience was one that Holmlov said truly enriched her hockey career.
“UMD was the best four years of my life,” she said. “I was so fortunate to have a coach like Shannon Miller. I learned so much from her. I cannot express with words how thankful I am for that opportunity.”
“Coming in, I remember how (fellow Swedes) Maria Rooth and Erika Holst loved it,” she added. “They said the program was excellent. Some of the top women’s players, like Caroline Ouellette and Jenny Potter played there. I also heard that Shannon Miller was an amazing person and coach. I knew that I would go there. It was an exciting program and everyone was amazing.”
In the development of Holmlov’s career, Rooth and Holst would come to be great heroes for her.
“My first big idol was Peter Forsberg, he is phenomenal,” Holmlov recalled. “As I started getting older, I was fascinated by how great Holst and Rooth were. They are great hockey players and role models off the ice. I was fortunate to play with them and learned so many great things.”
The former head coach of Sweden’s national women’s team, Peter Elander, is currently an associate head coach at the University of North Dakota, which happens to be a rival school of Minnesota Duluth. The opportunity to have a European serve as a coach in NCAA Division 1 is a great point of pride for Holmlov.
“I think it is good to get international experience both ways. I am happy that he has the opportunity to work there,” she said. “From what I hear, he is doing a great job at North Dakota. He also did a great job with Swedish women’s hockey.”
Holmlov is very familiar with Elander, as she played for him on the national team. A veteran of several years with Sweden’s women’s program, her first appearance with the team is one that brings with it a smile.
“The first time I played for Sweden, I was 15,” she said. “It was a feeling you cannot describe. It was like walking into the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, just an amazing moment. It is one moment that you always look back on. I am very fortunate to be a part of this team.”
With the Swedish team having qualified for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, Holmlov will be counted on to be a leader. As the Swedes lost a bronze medal game in overtime at Vancouver 2010 to archrival Finland, Holmlov is looking forward to Sochi.
Although the Swedish contingent competed in the relegation round of this year’s women’s worlds, Holmlov said she and her team understand what it will take to compete in Sochi.
“Obviously, we need to work on our development and get better,” she said. “Canada and the United States are still ahead, but all the teams are now out to win a medal. Russia, Finland, Switzerland, Germany and Japan are basically battling with us for third. We know Russia will be strong in their home country.”
For Holmlov, Sochi will bring with it a certain degree of familiarity. Since graduation from the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, she has competed professionally in Russia.
“Professionally, it is great. I was thankful for the opportunity. It was an amazing club and I have no complaints. You get to practise and play, and not think about anything else. It was a great life but it was a different culture.”
Her passion for the game is evident. While the opportunity to compete is one that Holmlov enjoys, she also understands that with experience, comes the obligation of leadership.
“This is my tenth season with Sweden,” she said. “I do a lot of routine and try to set an example. I try to be a leader for the team. The reason that I play hockey is that I enjoy being part of a team. These are people that I can rely on and they are my best friends in hockey.”
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