International Ice Hockey Federation

Backlin to play at UMD

Backlin to play at UMD

Swedish defenceman to join Miller’s team

Published 09.04.2013 02:01 GMT-4 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Backlin to play at UMD
Lina Backlin will play for UMD in the fall and hopes to make the Swedish team for Sochi as well during the 2013-14 season. (Photo credit: Andrea Cardin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Lina Backlin was just 15 years old when she played in her first Women’s World under-18 tournament in 2010.

Now, after three U18s, she is with the senior team here in Ottawa making her debut at the top level.

“Winning two bronze medals with a great team was a highlight for me,” she said of her time with the U18 team. She also played for Sweden at the Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck last year, another experience that can only help her development.

“That was a big moment in my life, an important tournament,” she admitted. “It’s something that I’ll always remember.”

Sweden has defeated the Czechs in a best-of-three relegation round series, so next up for the 18-year-old is college and the Olympics.

“I started skating when I was about six,” she said. “We had a rink in our backyard and my brothers played hockey.”

Backlin’s skating is, in fact, one of her strong suits, and one of the reasons coach Nicklas Hogberg has her on the team. With the retirement of Gunilla Andersson, there was an opening on the team, and Backlin took advantage.

“I’m an offensive defenceman,” she explained. “I like to control the power play and handle the puck, try to create scoring chances.”

“He told me to just go out and have fun, play my own game,” Backlin noted. Although she didn’t register a point in five games in Ottawa, she was also even in the plus-minus, a respectable stat given the team’s disappointing performance.

Given, too, that this is her first senior tournament, she has made the adjustment well. “You notice a difference for sure here. The players are bigger and stronger, and a lot faster.”

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“We’re not satisfied at all with how we played,” she admitted. “We came here wanting to win a medal, and we finished in seventh place. That’s not good enough at all.”

Backlin will be training hard this summer for two reasons. First, she has been recruited by coach Shannon Miller to play at the University of Minnesota Duluth. As well, she’ll be practicing with the national team in the hopes of earning a spot on the Olympic team for Sochi next February.

“The best women’s hockey is in North America right now and I want to play with the best,” she explained. “It was easy to decide to come over. I’ve talked to [Shannon] a lot and know a lot about her, so I was happy when she wanted me to play there. I’m going to train and practice all summer and do my best to be ready for UMD and to make the Olympic team.”

The odds are in her favour, though. With several of the team’s finest players now retired, there is a changing of the guard within the ranks of the national team. “Right now the team has a new generation of players,” she concurred. “That’s where we’re at right now. You can’t go with old players forever, so we’re changing our team now.”


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