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Eric Peterson, Published February 10 2014

Concordia women's hockey coach had shot to play in Sochi Olympics


Sarah Erickson has her United States Hockey bag tag attached to a gym bag hanging in her office, an indicator of the heights she reached as a women’s hockey player.

In her first season as head coach at Concordia, she at times lets her mind wander halfway around the world.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Sochi,” Erickson said, referring to the site of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. “For 20-some odd years of my life that is the thing I worked up to was the 2014 Olympics.”

Erickson’s Olympic dream ended last summer when she injured her knee during the tryout camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., and wasn’t named to the U.S. Women’s National Team that’s playing in Russia.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Erickson, who is from Roseau, Minn., and finished her high school career in Bemidji, Minn. “I’m so happy for my friends; some of my best friends are on that team.”

Erickson, 23, is no stranger to international play. She was on the U.S. Women’s National Team that won a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Championships.

Erickson injured her knee on the first day on on-ice training during the June tryout camp. She hurt her knee during a night scrimmage.

“It was just an odd fall,” Erickson said. “I fell on the red line and ended up freakishly tearing my LCL.”

The fall happened in the first period, but she finished the game. Erickson sat out the next scrimmage before seeing limited time in the third scrimmage.

“I kept playing. It hurt, but in the Olympic tryouts you are not going to stop playing,” Erickson said. “I was a bubble player for the USA. It wasn’t like I was a first-line player and guaranteed a spot like some have worked up to do.”

Erickson has a lot of close friends wearing the Team USA jersey in Sochi. In the months leading up to the tryout camp, Erickson trained in Florida with Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux of Grand Forks. The Lamoureux twins are both former University of North Dakota stars.

Team USA defenseman Megan Bozek, who played with Erickson at the University of Minnesota, is going to be in Erickson’s wedding. Forward Amanda Kessel was a line mate with Erickson at Minnesota.

“I keep in touch with those girls,” Erickson said. “I want them to do well and let them know that. … At the same time they know it’s tough, for not only me, but there are about 10 others who didn’t make the cut. … For women, the Olympics is the pinnacle of your hockey career. That’s the highest that you can go.”

While she had hopes of being in Sochi, Erickson is happy to be coaching the Cobbers. Concordia has been on a streak of late with a 7-0-1 record in its past eight games.

With four games to play in the regular season, the Cobbers need one point to clinch a spot in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

Concordia (9-8-4) had a 2-8-3 start to the season.

“We’ve created a brand new culture,” Erickson said. “I expect these girls on the Cobber team to act like elite athletes because they’re college athletes. They have to have that mindset.”

Erickson hasn’t ruled out making a run for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. She would be 27 years old heading into those games.

“It’s a thought in the back of my mind, however, right now I’m focused on coaching,” Erickson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com