There’s a new face making marks this year on the ice for the Black Bear women’s hockey team. First-year forward Tereza Vanisova has started off her season with a bang, logging four goals and three assists in the first eight games of the season.
Not only is this Vanisova’s first year on the UMaine team, but also her first year playing in America. Up until last year Vanisova was living in the Czech Republic, playing on men’s hockey teams. Last year she went to Canada to play on a women’s team.
“I was playing in Canada last year at an Academy, which was good because I needed to learn U.S. hockey and learn English,” Vanisova said.
Coming to America was an opportunity for Vanisova to be able to play on a competitive hockey team, while also studying, which would not have been possible in Europe. Coming in undecided, she hopes to study kinesiology while here at UMaine.
“It’s a big opportunity to play hockey and study. We don’t have this in Europe,” Vanisova said.
Vanisova played on men’s teams since she was five years old, when she first joined the sport after watching her brother play and wanting to try it. Switching to women’s hockey was an adjustment that Vanisova has done successfully.
“She’s extremely physical, sometimes too physical at times. With playing boy’s hockey that much, I think the biggest thing is you have to learn to play with your head up because otherwise someone is basically going to take your head off,” Head Coach Richard Reichenbach said.
As for her performance on the ice, she has started off leading the team with goals scored and total points earned. She has played in every game, helping the team scoring against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Quinnipiac, Boston College and Merrimack.
“On the ice, I think she just gives us a tool offensively that is pretty special,” Reichenbach said.
The first-year players, specifically Vanisova, have brought a new energy to the team, helping everyone to work harder.
“She brings a new spark of energy. I think last year’s team there wasn’t that extra ‘umph’ and I think with her coming in she makes everyone else work hard because we see this freshman coming in and we just want to keep up with her and she really set the tone,” second-year forward Cailey Hutchinson said.
It’s not just their positive energy that they are bringing to the team, but also their scoring capabilities. Being a younger team, there are many first-year players on the team who have been helping the team perform, Vanisova included.
“She brings a lot of offense to the team. Her speed is tremendous and just her presence on the ice I think it brings us confidence. As a team we have her out there. She brings a lot of offense to the team and that’s what we needed,” third-year defender Jessica Vallotton said.