University of Maine women’s ice hockey players Rahel Enzler and Amalie Andersen said their Winter Olympic experience in Beijing was memorable and they will learn from the valuable experience they gained.
Enzler played in seven games for Switzerland and her Swiss team reached the bronze medal game where it lost to Finland 4-0. Her team played gold medalists Canada twice, once in the semifinals, and the U.S. silver-medal team once. Switzerland won two of its seven games, with Enzler, a sophomore winger, registering seven shots on goal and no points.
Andersen’s Danish team was in Group B and failed to advance past the round robin stage as just the top three teams among the five moved on to the quarterfinals. They went 1-3 in round robin play. The junior forward-defenseman averaged 18 minutes of ice time with three shots on goal. She didn’t pick up a goal or an assist but was even in the plus-minus category.
“It’s hard to pick out just one memory,” Enzler said. “The one that stood out for me was the opening ceremony, walking in with all the other athletes from my country into this big stadium.”
They were housed in apartments with teammates. Enzler had three roommates and Andersen had two but they said each had their own room and the apartments were very nice. But neither cared for the food, which Enzler described as “mostly pasta and rice.”
“It was a little disappointing. But I survived,” Andersen said. “I ate every day.”
They were tested for COVID-19 tested every day but were able to walk freely around the Olympic Village if they tested negative. They had to wear masks. They had a chance to meet other athletes from their country as well as other countries and attended other Olympic events.
“I went to speed skating and watched with the coach. He taught me a lot about it and it was fun and interesting to talk to some of the curling players,” Andersen said. “I was super excited to hear their stories and points of view.”
They enjoyed skating against some of the best players in the world and thought they played well.
“I thought I had a pretty good tournament overall,” said Enzler, who was also pleased that her team rallied to the bronze-medal game after losing their opening game in the round robin portion 12-1 to the Canadians.
“It isn’t easy to play when you’re losing by 10 goals but we knew we needed a win in the quarterfinals (to reach the semis) and we did that,” said Enzler, whose Swiss team beat the Russian Olympic Committee 4-2 in the quarterfinals before losing to Canada 10-3 in the semifinals.
They returned to play for UMaine, helping the team reach the Hockey East semifinals where they lost to Northeastern 3-1. Northeastern went on to win its fifth consecutive league tournament title.
Both feel their Olympic experience will make them better players next season.
“You can always learn a lot from playing against great players. I saw what I need to do to become a better player. I have to get faster and more athletic,” Enzler said.
“I came back with a lot of confidence and I want to bring that into next season,” Andersen added. “I play my best when I’m confident.”