CONTACT: Jon Lundin, Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Head of Communications & Media ([email protected]) Tel: 518-637-6885

Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Women’s Ice Hockey Preliminary Rounds to be held at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall and Semifinal and Final Games at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid

Tickets Available for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games HERE

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Mention women’s hockey in Great Britain and most think of field hockey. Great Britain won gold in that sport during the 2016 Olympics. But hockey on ice? Not so much.

With powerhouses like the U.S. and Canada dominating women’s ice hockey and most others trying to catch up, Great Britain’s teams have never even qualified for major international competitions, including the Olympics or World Championships.

Great Britain, however, has played in four of six FISU World University Games since women’s ice hockey made its winter Universiade debut in 2009 in Harbin, China. The FISU Games are held every two years.

But Great Britain’s ice hockey team – consisting of players from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Canadians holding British passports – has not seen action in a FISU World University Games in six years. It did not qualify for the most recent FISU Games in 2019; the 2021 Games were canceled due to the global pandemic. In 2017, Great Britain finished seventh, last in the field, and has never ranked higher than fifth of six teams. But Great Britain’s women will be back on ice at the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games and couldn’t be more excited.

They are seeded fourth in the six-team tournament topped by No. 1 seed and three-time FISU Games champion Canada, No. 2 U.S., and No. 3 Japan. Slovakia and the Czech Republic are the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively.

If the seeds hold, Great Britain would play for a medal in the semifinal round, set for Jan. 20 in Lake Placid at the Olympic Center, site of the 1980 Miracle on Ice. The gold-medal game is Jan. 21. Qualifying rounds start Jan. 11 and Great Britain faces the Czech Republic in the tournament opener at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall.

The Jan. 12-22 Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games is expected to bring together 1,500 collegiate athletes, ages 17-25, from 600 universities in 50 countries to participate in Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, freestyle and freeski, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, short track speed skating, snowboarding, ski jumping and speed skating. Athletes will compete in 86 medal events in Lake Placid and the North Country area, including Saranac Lake, Wilmington, North Creek, Potsdam and Canton.

“The fact that we are qualified this year is just like, it’s amazing,” said Victoria Carson, 23, who grew up in Dumfries, Scotland and attends Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. “I’ve been a part of the GBU (Great Britain University) program for five years. So this was my final chance to go.”

She’s not the only one excited to travel to the FISU Games. If medals were handed out for hockey passion, Great Britain’s women would already have a place on the podium.

Just about all of them played on a boys’ team growing up, changing into their gear in the first-aid room because no girls’ team existed. They play on ice sheets ranging from international-size to smaller-than-regulation. Some grew up on homemade rinks, but others didn’t start skating until four years ago.

While Britain has several nice rinks in England and Scotland, team members also may play on ice, painted with curling sheets, or ice without blue lines. Sometimes, the boards have netting instead of Plexiglas, or the rinks are square instead of round. Some are so small an end-to-end rush might take only a few strides. But no matter.

“We love having ice time,” said Carson. “So we’ll take whatever we can get.”

Carson grew up in a farming community where curling was king. She started playing at 15 when her local rink hosted a lower-division world championship. “I just went along to watch, and I was like, ‘I’m going to play that sport.’ The next week, someone’s mum had put a little kit (uniform and gear) together for me.”

Jessie Mulloy, a 20-year-old Canadian from Carleton Place, near Ottawa, Canada attends Scotland’s University of Edinburgh. Mulloy grew up skating – first as a figure skater, then a hockey player since age 11. Her dad and brother, both players, thought she’d enjoy the hockey’s team aspect more. When she decided to study abroad, she hadn’t imagined she’d be playing overseas. Mulloy was quickly recruited by the Caledonia Steel Queens, an all-star club of Scottish university players that makes up the core of the Great Britain team.

“I didn’t know how big hockey was over here when I came over for university, so I didn’t actually bring any of my hockey equipment,” Mulloy said. “The level of hockey is actually quite high, higher than I was anticipating when I first came here for sure.”

Aisling Rafter, from Bangor, Northern Ireland, is a pre-med student at the University of Glasgow. She started playing at age 15, but did not play on a girls-only team until college. She was the only girl playing on a Belfast U20 boys’ team with checking.

“It was full contact,” said Rafter. “It was a steep learning curve for a 16-year-old.”

Rafter started playing because her brothers did. Her family got the hockey bug after watching the popular Belfast Giants, “a massive franchise” with international players just a notch or so below the NHL.

“All my family would talk about was ice hockey, because it was such a new and exciting thing that they had just discovered after going to one of (the) professional hockey games that would regularly happen in Belfast,” she said.

Scottish players Emily Lucky, from Paisley, and Claire Turnbull, from East Kilbride, are both 19 and attend universities in their home country – Lucky at the University of the West, Turnbull at Glasgow. Each started skating and playing only four years ago and have made remarkable progress. Now they’re going on a trip of a lifetime, one that the past class of university students missed.

“We have not got an idea of what the standard will be compared to our team, but we imagine every game will be challenging and extremely enjoyable,” Rafter said. “I imagine we will be playing some very talented teams and for us that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Great Britain is glad to be back at the FISU Games after six years – more than an entire university cycle. Said Rafter: “It’s been the carrot dangling at the end of the stick for a long time.”

PHOTO CAPTION: L to r — Jessie Mulloy, Claire Turnbull, Emily Lucky, Bradley Santelli, Victoria Carson, Aisling Rafter

MEDIA ADVISORY: Application requests for working media accreditation for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games continue through December 12, 2022. To apply for media accreditation, click HERE. To download the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games’ media guide click HERE, the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games’ media services guide is available HERE.