Aug. 17 through 20 was an exciting week for Minnesota State University’s women’s hockey team, where the Mavericks had four individuals selected to attend the 2022 Collegiate Select Series in Calgary, Canada.
The four Mavs selected included senior defensemen Charlotte Akervik and Anna Wilgren, as well as senior forward Kelsey King and junior forward Jamie Nelson.
It was not an easy invite and play for the Mavericks, however. The quartet first traveled to Buffalo, N.Y. for a week-long camp with several current and hopeful Team USA prospects. 76 women were invited to the camp in Buffalo, who were then cut and split into two teams who either competed in Denmark or Calgary.
The Mavericks performed well in camp, each earning a spot on the USA Collegiate Selects team to compete in Calgary against Team Canada in a three-game series.
“You see the names that you have played against when you were younger. But it was a really cool experience to come back and see all those high end players first hand and play against those players again since back when you were young,” said Akervik.
For the Mavs, attention at the national level has been something they have been used to since they were kids, but the chance at making any version of a National team is never taken for granted.
Wilgren has been highly involved with Team USA within the past year, which included an ineligible NCAA season last year due to her involvement with Team USA as she traveled for tryouts for the 2021-22 Olympic team. This year Wilgren is back with Minnesota State and is excited to share her newfound wealth of knowledge with her fellow teammates.
“You’re playing with the best of the best. And naturally you’re going to be able to walk away from that camp, taking something away from it,” said Wilgren. “We now get to apply that knowledge when we’re back at Mankato, which I think all four of us get to do together.”
“That made it even a cooler experience. We got to have the support of one another. Then we also get to bring the experience we had together and what we learned back to school now for our team here with the Mavericks.”
For three of the four women their invitation to the camp was guided through a simple acceptance of their invitation, but for Nelson, communication about her season-ending injury the year prior had to be sorted out before heading to Buffalo. Nelson knew she was ready to go, but was most relieved the Team USA scouts still had her on their radar.
“My acceptance was a little different because I had redshirted last year due to an injury. So, I had communication with them beforehand to let them know that I was clear to play,” said Nelson. “Once I got the invitation, it was a sigh of relief. And was like, oh, I am good enough. I am going. This is really cool, and I get the opportunity to showcase my skills.”
The Mavericks did well in their three-game series against Canada, where Team USA came out victorious in two of the three contests. Despite falling in a shootout 4-3 to the Canadians in game one, Team USA bounced back and won game two and three by scores of 4-1 and 2-1 in the Collegiate Selects Series.
Wilgren and Nelson each notched assists in the three-game series, but the Mavericks found their biggest accomplishments to be what they learned from the United States’ coaches.
“At first we thought we’d only be there for one week,” explained King. “So being able to take everything in and be grateful for each day, absorbing as much knowledge as possible from the veterans to the younger girls as well as the coaches and staff that they have there, was a huge takeaway for me.”
In addition King went on to say, “it’s a different role that you’re put in versus the role you may play on your college team. You’re always experiencing a new role, and being able to adapt to that and learn to fit to that role, was also a huge takeaway for me.”
The Mavericks are ready to be back home for the start of their regular season, and are filled with excitement on what they can share with their teammates every time they take the ice. The Mavs understand that they are players who are now more looked up to since attending the National camp and are ready to share their knowledge to make the 2022-23 season one of their best ones yet.
Header Photo: (From left to right) Kelsey King, Charlotte Akervik, Jamie Nelson and Anna Wilgren. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)
Write to Kole Buelow at Kole.Buelow@mnsu.edu