By Casey Dobson
By the time the puck drops on the Rams women’s hockey season, it’ll have been 629 days since the program played an official game.
But just because there hasn’t been action in the U SPORTS sphere doesn’t mean members of the Rams hockey program haven’t been hard at work mastering their craft through other competitions. Rams women’s hockey head coach Lisa Haley is rejoining the program after leading the charge for Hungary at the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Hockey Championship in Calgary this past August.
Haley was tasked with elevating a Hungarian team making its first-ever appearance in the top flight of the women’s game. It was a task she compares to her experience building the Rams women’s hockey program nearly a decade ago.
“[After] starting the program from scratch, being the underdog and trying to find ways to measure success when we’re losing games, I feel like the experiences I gained with the Rams were really beneficial toward stepping into my role with Hungary,” said Haley.
Hungary captured its first ever victory at the competition, defeating Denmark 5-1 on Aug. 25. It was a moment in which the team’s hard work came to fruition.
“The tears of joy that they felt when they stepped on the ice for the first time, to realize they had realized a dream that they thought would only take a few months to complete but actually took two years. [It was a] long time coming, but I feel very fortunate to have experienced it with them,” said Haley.
The women’s hockey head coach said while the performance expectations for Hungary may not be the same as they are for a national powerhouse like Canada, the lessons learned are just as important.
“The experiences I gained with the Rams were really beneficial toward stepping into my role with Hungary”
“I’ve been with Team Canada to six or seven world championships and you go into that with certain expectations. You’re expecting to win a gold medal and you’ve got the pressure of trying to reach that goal,” said Haley.
“But with Hungary, obviously our definition of success was very different than being with Team Canada.”
Her time in Calgary also offered Haley “the opportunity to work with different experts at the highest level,” including fellow Rams colleague Alana Goulden, who is the university’s equipment coordinator. Goulden was in Calgary with Team Canada as the equipment manager for the tournament winners, a role she will also be in through the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.
For Goulden, it’s the little things that can make all the difference in winning a gold medal and in the chase for a U SPORTS banner.
“Everything is just done at such a high professional level,” she said. “Every day you’re taking little things back with you from the people you work with.”
Goulden also touched on how important resiliency has been during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s so many unknowns over the past year and a half and you just have to learn to adapt and roll with it,” said Goulden.
She added that “sometimes you just don’t know what the future looks like and you have to learn to be okay with that,” concluding with the advice that “working in sports might not look like what it used to but you just have to learn to make the best of it and you still get a lot out of it.”
When the puck drops on Nov. 5, 629 days after it was picked up for the last time, there will be a lot of joy, a lot of hope and the Rams will be a lot closer to making their national championship dreams a reality.