Pernilla Winberg Stands as One of the Great Ambassadors of Women's Hockey

Mark StaffieriContributor IIApril 7, 2013

Obtained from Getty Images
Obtained from Getty ImagesCameron Spencer/Getty Images

The spark plug of the Swedish offense, Pernilla Winberg plays with a remarkable determination and is focused on constantly giving her team a chance to win. Her legend grew out of the 2006 Torino Winter Games. Against the United States, she scored the game-winning goal in the semifinal.

“It was the best thing that every happened to me, and it helped my team obviously. It was an amazing feeling, the best ever. I really want the chance to do that again.”

The victory over the United States was the biggest upset in the history of the women’s game. In addition, Winberg’s sensational goal was considered one of the 100 Greatest Moments in the history of the IIHF.

“It brings great feelings. It speaks for all of us and it is good for women’s hockey in Sweden. I hope (the goal) helped players to start. It is important for us to do well.”

Having graduated from the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in 2013, it marked the end of a remarkable career in the NCAA. She would follow in the proud tradition of other Swedish players that competed for the Bulldogs; Erika Holst, Elin Holmlov, Kim Martin and Maria Rooth.

“Obviously, it had to finish. It was four great years and a great coaching staff. Everything ends, and you have to move on.”

Ironically, her head coach with the Bulldogs, Shannon Miller was on-hand for the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds. As part of the IIHF Mentorship and Ambassadorship Program, she served as a consultant for the Russian contingent (also competing in Pool B with Sweden). “She is an amazing coach. She wants the best for each of us on-ice, off-ice, everything.”

During her time with the Bulldogs, she had the opportunity to compete against a former coach. Peter Elander, the former bench boss of the Swedish national women’s hockey team, was also a member of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. When she had to play against her former coach as a member of the Bulldogs, she did not find it to be an odd experience.

“Since I had him for so long, I don’t think about that. He is a great coach and it is really good to see her helping other teams.”

Although the Swedish team faced a heartbreaking situation by competing in the relegation round, Winberg’s determination and strong skating always gave Sweden the opportunity to remain competitive. While the future brings Winberg the chance to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, fans in Ottawa (host city of the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds) were spoiled with the on-ice presence of one of Sweden’s true living legends in women’s hockey.

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”