IHOC : Teammates Marty, Menard square off in international cup

first_imgStefanie Marty is used to performing on the international stage. The Syracuse captain has competed for Switzerland in multiple world championships and two Olympics, so playing in the 2011 MLP Cup in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, earlier this month was just another tournament.For teammate Isabel Menard, though, it was as big as it gets. The sophomore represented Canada for the first time in international play.‘It’s almost both ends of the spectrum,’ Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan said. ‘You got a veteran like Marty, who it’s no big deal going to something like that, and then Isabel getting a taste of it was pretty good.’The contrast between the teammates goes beyond their experience levels and to their home countries. Switzerland must battle for respectability in international play, and Canada is the perennial gold-medal favorite. On a continent where hockey has little fan support, Marty’s Swiss team is an afterthought. It certainly doesn’t have the buzz swirling around like Menard’s team, from the birthplace of hockey.The two countries and SU teammates met in the opening round of the tournament. Friends from Syracuse pitted against each other in Switzerland, creating a unique tournament experience for the pair.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMarty said she couldn’t help smiling for a moment when the game against her college teammate began. Still, though, she knew she had little time to relax against a dominant Canadian team — one that has much more firepower than the Swiss.‘You are not really playing differently on the ice because you know someone over there,’ Marty said. ‘We knew we were the underdogs on our team, and everyone was kind of scared of Canada. I’m like, ‘Guys, we can play with them. I’ve played with them in the leagues.”Menard enjoyed the Orange camaraderie across the Atlantic Ocean, knowing she may never get to face Marty again. Though this Canada squad was just an under-22 group playing against full national squads, Menard understood why other teams were intimidated by this perennial power.‘Obviously, other countries, they sort of know, ‘We’re playing Canada. Oh, that’s going to be a tough win or it’s going to be tough to win,” Menard said.Canada proved to be too tough for Switzerland, which finished fifth, and every other country at the tournament. After defeating the Swiss 5-0, Canada beat Germany, Russia, and Sweden en route to its eighth gold medal at the tournament in nine years. Canada defeated its four opponents by a combined score of 29-0.Marty recorded two goals in an overtime loss to Germany and then skipped the fifth-place game against Finland to return for Syracuse’s series against Mercyhurst. She said she wanted to get back to SU sooner because it is her senior season.Menard, who missed the Mercyhurst series, said she was nervous before the first game but soon settled in. She scored two goals and recorded an assist in helping Canada to gold.She also picked up some new skills and a new perspective after the experience. She said Canada had a coach who spoke to each player individually before every game about mental toughness and national pride.‘He just talked to us, just to remind us why we were here, and we got chosen to represent the country, and just how we’re fortunate to be part of it,’ Menard said.Menard believes the little things she learned in international play, such as mental toughness and teamwork, have already made her a better player.And despite missing Marty for one game and Menard for three, Flanagan said the experience helps his team in the long run, too. It motivates the younger players to work hard to reach that elite level of competition.‘You’d like to think some of our younger players aspire to play on a U.S. or Canadian national team at some point,’ Flanagan said. ‘I think it gives them a little insight as to what it’s like, and watching Isabel and Stefanie day in and day out, they should have an idea of what it takes physically and then how demanding it can be.’Their backgrounds may be different, but Marty and Menard are both talented players and leaders for the Orange. While Flanagan encourages them to keep playing at the highest level, both he and his team welcomed Marty and Menard’s return home.Flanagan said getting them back for the Robert Morris series was exactly what the team needed to snap its five-game winless streak.‘If they were away sick and they were gone, as soon as they return, it picks our team up,’ Flanagan said. ‘They’re those types of players.’rjgery@syr.edu Published on January 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: rjgery@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img read more