As the German women’s hockey team looks to improve, goaltender Jenny Harss is a competitive goaltender that knows how to win. Having played for former Canada’s National Womens’ Team coach Shannon Miller at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Harss certainly had a great mentor.
“Obviously, I learned a lot. It was a great experience,” she said. The goalie staff at UMD was great, including our goalie coach Brant Nicklin. I was definitely motivated. I knew UMD was a great school. I had heard a lot about her and learned a lot on and off the ice.”
Like many players, Harss underwent an adjustment period in her rookie season of NCAA Division 1 hockey.
“There was an adjustment. It is a different culture. The language was different and the people were different,” Harss told HockeyCanada.ca. Although I learned a bit in school, to learn a new language was just different. You have to use it daily. With European players on the team, it helps to adjust and definitely makes a difference.”
During her career with the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, she set a team rookie record for saves in one season with 1,138 of them. During the 2009-10 season, she led all goaltenders in the NCAA in minutes played, while assembling a remarkable record of 29-8-2.
In addition, she helped the squad win the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four Championship. It was an impressive performance, as she recorded 49 saves in a triple overtime victory against Cornell. In September 2010, Harss and her fellow Bulldogs would earn the opportunity to visit the White House and meet President Barack Obama.
“It was really exciting,” she said. “It is not every day that you get to go to the White House. It was an honour to go there.”
One of the unique aspects of the Bulldogs is the fact that in any given year, there are players from multiple countries. Over the years, the squad has featured players from the United States, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden – and even Australia.
“Even though we play against each other at the worlds and in international play, on UMD, we are one team,” she explained. “Haley Irwin and Jocelyne Larocque (who compete for Canada) were my roommates. We can separate the two jobs that we have. It is part of the game.”
Prior to joining the Bulldogs, Harss had the opportunity to compete for Germany in women’s ice hockey at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy. The chance to compete on the world’s biggest stage provided Harss with many great memories.
“It was great! The Olympic dream is one of every athlete. It is one of the biggest goals that you can reach. It is even more exciting knowing that we have qualified for Sochi.”
The opportunity to go to school in North America is one that helps to improve any European player’s skills. As the rest of the world attempts to catch up to Canada and the United States, the experience to compete with Minnesota Duluth is one that is cherished for Harss.
“For us, it is a great opportunity,” she said. We combine school and hockey, and it is a professional atmosphere. Hockey wise, it is great and it helps the European game, as we bring what we learn back to Germany.”