As the Czech Republic makes its debut at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, one of the team’s leaders on offence is Lucie Povova. When she is not competing with the Czechs, Povova is a top forward with the Northeastern University Huskies of NCAA Division 1 women’s hockey.
Her first experience with hockey in North America came courtesy of Wyoming Seminary Prep School. “I came to the United States when I was 14. Wyoming Seminary was in Kingston, Pennsylvania, close to Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The team played in the prep school federation, but we also went up to Canada to play.”
A big part of her adjustment to Wyoming Seminary was courtesy of fellow Czech player Alena Polenska. The two would quickly forge a strong friendship. “Alena Polenska and I were teammates at Wyoming Seminary for two years. I came in as a freshman while she was a junior. It was nice to have her as a teammate. I knew her from before and she would talk to me in the Czech language. She helped me with the professors and help get adjusted to a new culture.”
“It really helped my career. It helped me to get ready to go to college and helped with my English,” she said. In prep school, we only played hockey four months a year. I was used to playing the entire (year) … That was a challenge as I would have expected a lot more hockey.”
Having established herself as an elite sniper and a highly skilled skater, Povova earned a scholarship to Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. In playing for the Huskies, she would have the opportunity to play with other young international women’s hockey superstars, such as Florence Schelling from Switzerland and Kendall Coyne of the United States.
In asking if Schelling and Coyne helped to improve her play, she replied, “Of course, it improved my play. If you shoot the puck at Florence or compete with Kendall, it motivates you. In practice, when you go one-on-one with Kendall, she is fast and you have to do your best against her.”
“When I would score on Schelling in practice, it was the best time of my life,” Povova added. “She was a great goalie and really nice. She was always giving me great tips on where best to score on the goalie, and she was really helpful.”
At Northeastern University, winning the Beanpot for two straight years (2012 and 2013) was the highlight of her tenure. “We did pretty well this year. Last year, we won the regular season championship. This year, we lost in the conference championship game, which was upsetting, but we got farther than before.”
In the preseason, Povova and Northeastern participated in an exhibition game against fellow Czech teammate Katerina Mrazova and her club team, the CWHL’s Boston Blades.
“Sometimes Katerina and I were on different shifts, but it was nice to play her. Against the Boston Blades, there were many U.S. players from the national team. It just challenges you. You know what your limits are and where you can go. It was a good experience.”
In March 2013, Mrazova became the first European to win the Clarkson Cup, awarded annually to the team that wins the CWHL championship. The accomplishment was one that Povova reflects on proudly.
“Of course, I was happy,” she said. “She is my teammate and she is also my friend. I am happy for every single one of my teammates when they succeed. Everyone has put in hard work to make this work.”
For Povova, the opportunity to compete with the Czechs in their first appearance at the women’s worlds is highly cherished. “This is a big honour. We have worked so hard together. It took a lot of hard work, tears and bruises. Finally, we are here and we want to make the best of it.”
While the Czechs are the youngest team at this year’s women’s worlds in Ottawa, Povova is excited about the future of the program. “All the younger players are really good. This is a chance for them to earn experience. Not a lot of the younger people have been through it.”
“The older players pull in the younger ones,” she added. “We have good team chemistry. I have never been on a team where everyone is this close. When I started on the national team, I was 13 or 14. I was worried to talk to the older girls. No matter the age, everyone gets respected, and when you work hard, you earn that respect.”