UND hockey players step up to help out at U18
Case in point: Jordan Hampton and Dorci Medgyes of the University of North Dakota (UND) women’s hockey team. About 20 members of that NCAA squad have volunteered to help with tracking statistics and other duties at the tournament in Grand Forks, along with some 20 members of the men’s team that won the Frozen Four title in Tampa Bay, Florida earlier this month.
Hampton and Medgyes come from very different backgrounds and have overcome different challenges to make it in the world of college hockey. But they’re united by their passion for UND and the chance to help other players live out their dreams. Ever since the Latvia-Switzerland opener, the two have been frequently spotted in the press box at U18 games, tabulating plus-minus, blocked shots and so on at their computers.
Hampton, who hails from the Boston-area town of Foxborough, Massachussetts, responded to an invitation to volunteer from the Ralph Engelstad Arena (REA) Hockey Academy.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to expand my learning experience, and I have worked at hockey camps for the Hockey Academy before and loved it,” said the blueliner in her junior year at UND.
While this is the 22-year-old’s first venture into keeping stats, she’s no stranger to IIHF competition. She played for the silver medal-winning U.S. team at the 2012 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in Zlin, Czech Republic. That roster included current World Champions like Alex Carpenter, Lee Stecklein, and Haley Skarupa, to name just a few.
Hampton, whose hockey idols include Angela Ruggiero and Bobby Orr, describes the 2012 tournament as the “best experience of my life.”
Medgyes is doing double duty at this tournament. The 20-year-old native of Budapest, Hungary, who plays both forward and defence, also serves as the team host for Latvia. She’s booked their shuttles and made sure they receive pen drives with the games they’ve just played, among other duties.
She’s also volunteered at an Olympic qualification tournament and a Division I tournament in her native land, so this role comes naturally to her. And as a veteran of two top-level U18 tournaments with an up-and-coming hockey nation herself (plus multiple Division I and II outings), Medgyes can identify with what the Latvians are going through as they prepare to battle in the relegation round.
“The team doctor, Eriks Didrihsons, knows me from the past,” explained Medgyes. “I participated in the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship with Hungary in Ventspils, Latvia in 2014, and we met there. Honestly, I am really enjoying being with the Latvian team. I respect that they play hard, block shots and never give up the game whatever the score is.”
Hampton, who’s majoring in kinesiology, didn’t give up on her hockey dreams after enduring some tough luck. Originally suiting up for Northeastern University in Boston, she had to have hip surgery in her freshman year and also suffered a torn meniscus in her knee in her second year. Looking for a fresh start, she came west and fell in love with the hockey-first atmosphere at UND and its magnificent, 2001-built arena.
“The fans are great, and they are so supportive of us and our program,” she said. “Playing at The Ralph is a dream. It is the best rink, and we are all so thankful to have a facility like this to call our home. When we have our annual Fill the Bowl game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the lower bowl is close to full, and the atmosphere is amazing and so loud – especially since we’ve beaten Minnesota twice in the past two years!”
UND is truly a microcosm of the women’s hockey world in all its diversity. Medgyes, for instance, is the first Hungarian woman to play NCAA Division I hockey, and her journey here included IIHF camps in Vierumaki, Finland and Sheffield Great Britain. She’s also played against boys for 13 years.
In addition, the UND women’s team features such Olympic and Women’s World Championship participants as Canada’s Halli Krzyzaniak, Germany’s Tanja Eisenschmid, and Finland’s Anna Kilponen and Vilma Tanskanen. Associate head coach Peter Elander is best-known for leading Sweden to a surprising silver medal at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.
For Medgyes, the opportunity to train alongside American all-stars Monique Lamoureux and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson has been one of many UND highlights.
“They are awesome,” she said. “I was on the ice a few times with them, and it was impressive to see the level of the U.S. team.”
She’s certainly come a long way since spurning a Hungarian skating coach’s suggestion that she take up figure skating as a child and going for hockey instead. She’s majoring in business management and would like to travel more across the U.S., as well as helping the Hungarian women’s national team secure its first Women’s Worlds berth ever in the elite division.
What about Hampton’s post-graduation dreams?
“I’d love to find a college assistant coaching job as soon as possible. I love giving back to the community, and I would love to help girls and young women reach their goals and make their dreams come true, whether it is playing at the Division I college level or making the national team for the Olympics. I love women’s hockey, and I just could never see myself away from the game.”
For now, both of these smart, strong-willed young women will enjoy making their contribution to the final stages of the 2016 IIHF U18 World Championship.
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