International Ice Hockey Federation

For the love of game

For the love of game

Sidney Morin’s path to PyeongChang

Published 12.02.2018 13:25 GMT+10 | Author Andrew Podniek
For the love of game
Sidney Morin during her Olympic debut with Team USA. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
She was cut from the U22 team and cut from the Olympic team, but she continued to play because, well, she wanted to.

In the end, passion triumphed over pity, and persistence overcame feelings of defeat. That’s why American Sidney Morin is at the Olympics.

The facts can be cruel, but they often speak volumes. The truth is that as a high-school student in Minnetonka, Minnesota, Morin played for the U.S. at the 2013 Women’s U18 tournament in Finland, winning silver. That was the last the IIHF hockey world saw of her until yesterday, in Korea, but she was not idle in the interim.

Morin went off to the University of Minnesota-Duluth to earn a degree in Marketing Analytics (with a minor in Psychology), captaining the Bulldogs by her third year. She was always on the USA Hockey radar, but she never played a meaningful game for her country after the U18.

“I had the privilege of going to a camp before my last year of college and unfortunately didn’t make the U22 roster,” she began. “Then, following my senior year, I was at the selection camp for this Olympics and again fell short, but I had opportunities, and I tried to make the most of them.”

Women’s hockey is not a broad game, so with but few places to play, Morin was in a pickle. She didn’t seem quite up to the top level of the game, but she couldn’t see herself stopping playing at the rip old age of 22. Still, cuing the world’s smallest violin and crying her dreams away was not her style.

“I just loved the game,” she enthused. “I had a lot of conversations with my coaching staff at Duluth. I wasn’t ready to give it up. I wanted to keep playing competitively, so I chose to go to the most competitive league in Europe.”

That was Sweden. She got a great offer from MODO in Ornskoldsvik, and she accepted. The outcast American (well, she has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, actually) packed her bags and moved to Sweden.

“I wanted to do something different,” she explained. “I wanted something new, so when I had the chance to go to a good organization like MODO, I took it. And, I wanted to do the Europe thing and see the world. The league is really competitive. We practise every day, have one day off a week, play two or three games every weekend. I wanted to play every day. It was great.”

Good things happen to good people who do things for the right reason. Expecting nothing but playing time in Sweden, Morin caught a break. The U.S. Olympic team, centralizing in Florida and training for Korea, just didn’t seem right to coach Robb Stauber. Something was missing. Something wasn’t quite up to snuff. Program director Regan Carey called Morin and offered her a chance to play herself onto the team. Morin, flabbergasted, accepted.

“They called me on a tryout basis,” Morin continued. “They made that clear. They wanted to see how I’d fit in. They made no promises, no guarantees. I had to work hard and show them what I had. And that’s what I did. I put my head down and went to work. Thankfully it worked out for me. There could be a lot of other girls in my skates right now.”

Things worked out every bit as well as Morin might have dreamed. Playing on the larger ice in Sweden gave her an advantage when she joined the U.S. team, and her second chance gave her a second wind.

“It was a second chance I didn’t think I’d get,” she said. “I was truly honoured. To be alongside these girls is amazing. I never thought I was going to be in this position at the beginning of this season. It’s surreal.”

So for the immediate future, her dream is to play well, get decent ice time, and win Olympic gold.

“I’m here, and I’m going to do whatever the coaching staff wants me to do. I want to play as many minutes as possible, but that’s not always going to happen. If it doesn’t, you have to be a good team player and cheer your teammates on. When you do, you have to make the most of it, so that’s what I’m going to do while I’m here.”

Game one is in the books, a solid, tight 3-1 win over Finland, and the defenceman played nearly 15 minutes of solid hockey for Stauber.

The selection, though, also gives Morin’s career a bit of a boost she wasn’t expecting back in October, but the level-headed 22-year-old isn’t rushing ahead. After PyeongChang, she’ll join Modo for the playoffs, and from there, who knows?

“We’ll see,” she said. “I’m focused on this Olympics right now, take it one step at a time, and re-evaluate after the season and see where life takes me.”

 

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