Florence Schelling Joins the World's Greatest Women's Hockey Team
In observing Florence Schelling’s list of accomplishments, one cannot help but inquire, “What has she not accomplished?” Her career certainly caught the attention of the three-time Clarkson Cup champion Montreal Stars, who made her the 20th pick overall in the 2012 CWHL Draft. With a lineup that features Meghan Agosta, Caroline Ouellette and Julie Chu, the Montreal Stars are the greatest women’s hockey team in the world. At her first training camp with the Stars, Schelling could not help but notice the club’s embarrassment of riches: “Yes, clearly. I have never been on a team with so much talent.”
After years of playing against Agosta, Ouellette and Chu, Schelling gets to be their teammate. “Yes, I am very happy. They are heroes for younger hockey players. I am excited to be part of this team.” In addition, she gets to share goaltending duties with longtime rivals Kim St. Pierre and Charline Labonte. “I hope to learn a lot from them through practice.”
Although there has never been a European superstar in the CWHL, or a European that has won the Clarkson Cup, Schelling tries to not be overwhelmed with such expectations. “I am not really looking into that. It is not about being the first European to do that.”
While the Swiss men’s hockey team upset Canada by a 2-0 tally at the 2006 Torino Winter Games, the dawn of Florence Schelling’s career as an international superstar was quietly overlooked. Between the pipes for Switzerland at Torino, Schelling had a remarkable .939 save percentage and a 2.40 goals against average on a seventh place team.
Her new teammate on the Montreal Stars, Meghan Agosta (Canada) made her Winter Games debut at Torino. Another new teammate on the Stars, Julie Chu (United States) also played at those Games. Said Schelling: “[Torino] was great. I was so young and I started as the second goalie. I worked my way up to becoming our starting goalie. It helped me for my future.”
She would follow her showing at Torino with a fourth place showing for the Swiss at the 2008 IIHF Women’s Worlds. Statistically, she was the second best goalie at the tournament. She was the only goaltender to play in every minute of every game.
Schelling would follow those impressive showings by joining the Northeastern Huskies of the Hockey East division in the NCAA for the 2008-09 season. In that first season, she would share the goaltending duties with Leah Sulyma. Her new teammate was another goaltender who had a reputation for remarkable performances. At the 2007 Canada Winter Games, Sulyma played for the Northwest Territories, and recorded a 90 save game versus Manitoba, and an astounding 104 save game versus Alberta.
With Northeastern, it did not take long for Schelling to make her mark on New England hockey history. On January 8, 2010, she played in the first NCAA women’s hockey game to be held outdoors, held at historic Fenway Park. “It was a great experience at Fenway Park," Schelling said. "Coming from Switzerland, I had never known anything about it. In reading about it, and learning the history, for us to play there was an incredible experience. It was so much fun out there.”
While at Northeastern, a rivalry (and mutual respect) developed with Providence Friars goaltender (and Boston Blades draft pick) Genevieve Lacasse. On the same day (March 5, 2011), they both broke the Hockey East record for most saves in a playoff game. Schelling had 44 saves vs. Boston University, while Lacasse would block 58 Boston College shots. “I love [our rivalry]," proclaimed Schelling. "Off ice, we are really good friends. It is always special playing against her. She is a great goalie, awesome.”
Their rivalry would reach its pinnacle on February 17, 2012. The two made over 80 saves combined as the Huskies and Friars skated to a scoreless tie. The shutout helped Lacasse set the Providence record. It was the ultimate compliment to their talent. Said Schelling: “We still talk about that. It was the senior night (for Lacasse). She made 44 saves and I made 41 saves. It is great to know her, that is the fun part.”
Schelling’s senior season at Northeastern was one of many milestones. She helped Northeastern claim the prestigious Beanpot Tournament, their first in almost two decades. “That was my favourite moment at Northeastnern,” she said. Schelling was the runner-up to Brianna Decker of Wisconsin for the Patty Kazmaier Award. Asked if it was an exciting season, Schelling responded: “Yes, of course. I went into my senior year telling myself to set new records, to be remembered. I left on a good note.”
As the theme of her career is making history, it was no surprise when she helped Switzerland to their first ever medal at the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds. The bronze medal for the Swiss has helped establish the country as a world hockey power. “It (the bronze) was a first for us," said Schelling. "It was huge, I still cannot believe it. It was so unreal, but a great experience. An event that worked out perfect.”
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated
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