Hockey enthusiasts at Bowdoin need not wait any longer—competitive play returns to Sidney J. Watson Arena this evening with a special exhibition between the U.S. Women's National Select Team and the Swedish National Team.
Team USA, whose exhibition roster includes 11 Olympians from the 2010 Winter Olympics, will take on Sweden tonight at 7 p.m. Attendance is free and open to the general public, with an autograph session following the game.
"I think that it's a great thing to have the game here and I know it'll be a lot of fun," said Director of Athletics Jeff Ward. "To have a world-class event in Brunswick at no cost to the public is pretty cool."
Both teams are preparing for the upcoming Four Nations Cup, an annual tournament featuring the women's national hockey teams from the United States, Canada, Sweden and Finland. The tournament rotates among the four nations, and Canada will host the Four Nations Cup this year.
Several factors contributed to Bowdoin hosting the U.S. and Swedish teams this week, in particular its proximity to the tournament that will be held in St. John's, Newfoundland, from November 9 to 13.
Bowdoin also benefited from a close relationship with Michele Amidon, the current regional manager of the American Development Model for USA Hockey.
"Michele is the former director of U.S. Women's Hockey, but before she took that position she was our head women's hockey coach—someone who is really familiar with Bowdoin," said Ward. "She was the person who contacted us originally."
"Whenever the host country announces where the event is going to be held, we plan our training camp off of that site," said Amidon. "Once we found out it was going to be St. John's, Newfoundland, I immediately thought of Bowdoin."
Amidon and USA hockey also considered holding its training camp in Boston, competing with local collegiate teams to ready itself for the Four Nations Cup. Yet Bowdoin proved to be the ideal location.
"Boston would have made a lot of sense," said Amidon, "but Boston is also a lot more expensive than Brunswick, and we have a budget to follow."
"Having two airports right there [in Portland and Boston] makes for easy travel in and out, too," she added.
The presence of USA Hockey on campus, which began throughout the past week as Bowdoin hosted the teams' training camps, will continue beyond tonight's game as well.
The Director of the American Development Model Ken Martel, Amidon and six members of Team USA will host a hockey clinic on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. for girls from the greater Brunswick community. Another clinic for both boys and girls—Try Hockey for Free Clinic—will follow at 5:15 p.m.
"We consider this an opportunity for USA Hockey to give back to the greater Brunsick area," said Amidon.
Marissa O'Neil '05, a former Bowdoin player and new head coach of the Bowdoin Women's Hockey Team, emphasized the significance—and rarity—of the College's opportunity to host the international competition.
"Being a small D-III school and having national teams interested in coming here, I think that's quite an honor for us," said O'Neil. "To have elite players in the rink is exciting for the [hockey] teams and the community."
"It will be a great sporting event to attend in a beautiful facility," added O'Neil. "You will be impressed by the athleticism and competition."
O'Neil also noted the timing of the event, as both Bowdoin hockey teams prepare for their season openers that are only a few weeks away.
"Hopefully with this week, people will get excited for the start of the season," said O'Neil. "It's great to create a buzz around the sport and potentially lead to more support from the community and the student body."