After Northeastern had beaten his Boston University team for the championship of the women’s Beanpot tournament in February, BU coach Brian Durocher had Florence Schelling on his mind.
He’d just watched the Northeastern goalie stop shot after shot through regulation and overtime of his team’s 4-3 loss. The Terriers just couldn’t crack her.
“Certainly Florence Schelling was a big part of what happened out there tonight,” Durocher told the Boston Globe. “She’s their rock back there. There were chances — you get 46 shots on net and you could get a fourth or fifth [goal] — but not that easily against Florence Schelling.”
Durocher’s assessment could certainly be echoed by a number of other coaches who saw Schelling play this season. Northeastern’s “rock” was 20-6-4 for the Huskies this season as they won the Hockey East regular-season championship.
The 23-year-old senior from Oberengstringen, Switzerland, was a unanimous selection as Hockey East Player of the Year as she had a 1.42 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. She was third in the nation in shutouts (eight), second nationally in save percentage and third in goals-against average. In 19 games she allowed just one or no goals.
Her play helped make the Huskies the third-best team defense in the nation, giving up just 1.55 goals per game.
“Schelling has been our anchor,” Northeastern coach Dave Flint said after the Beanpot final. “Our team plays more confident knowing she’s back there.”
Though the Huskies are done this season, having been ousted in the Hockey East playoffs, Schelling said this season was special.
With an offense energized from the start by freshman Kendall Coyne, the Huskies all season believed they could do big things. It was, Schelling said, the biggest step for a program that has come a long way since she entered Northeastern as a freshman.
“It’s been a great season,” said Schelling, whose team was ranked ninth in the most recent national poll. “It’s too bad it’s already done. … I’m sad it’s done. This would have been awesome if this had been my freshman year and I had three more years to go.”
Schelling does have one more thing to look forward to, however: the announcement of the Patty Kazmaier Award this Saturday. Schelling is one of three finalists for the award, given annually to the top player in women’s college hockey. The other finalists are two high-scoring forwards, Brianna Decker of Wisconsin and Jocelyne Lamoureux of North Dakota.
Schelling is shocked to be among the three finalists.
“I’m not going to lie,” she said this week. “This is like a huge surprise. Not in a million years would I have thought I’d make the top three. I was really excited I made the top 30. Then I looked at all the other players, there were just some huge players, like Hilary Knight and the Lam twins. If I made the top 10, I’m the happiest. And then I made the top 10 and it was, ‘Oh my God.’ I never would have thought I’d make the top three.”
But Schelling has proven herself to be one of the top goaltenders in the world.
She started for the Swiss Olympic team in Torino in 2006, posting a .939 save percentage, and has played for her national team in three International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championships. She also is the first and only woman to play in the Swiss Men’s National B League.
By the time she came to Northeastern, she already had big-game experience that has helped her play with confidence.
“I think I’m like this really calm person in the net,” said Schelling. “There’s nothing that can take me out of my game. I’m really focused. I think that’s what makes me a good goalie. I think a lot of goalies can’t be as calm as I am in the net. They get nervous. I’m basically really calm.”
She also takes a scientific approach to her play. She wants to study what she does right and what she does wrong.
“I’m never satisfied with myself,” she said. “If I [allow] a goal, I’ll analyze it and work on it next practice.”
Added Schelling: “It’s the little things, working on details, getting the little things rights, doing them over and over again.”
Going into this season she also concentrated on developing her passing skills, knowing she could help her team offensively to “break out faster.”
Schelling began playing at age 4 and gravitated almost immediately to the net.
She said her parents tell her “it was out of laziness” — she didn’t want to do all the skating, up and down the ice, that the other players were forced to do in practice. But, too, she also didn’t want to come off the ice — ever.
Then, as she got more international experience and played regularly against men, her game continued to improve. She credits playing in the Swiss B League as a huge factor in her growth, “Just because it’s much more aggressive playing guys’ hockey, so I wasn’t ever scared of taking a shot or anything. I definitely think that helped me.”
For Schelling, hockey is a big part of her life, but not the only thing. In fact, she said she can find herself interested in almost every topic she discovers.
She loves all sports and plays tennis, golf, squash, soccer and swims. She speaks four languages — French, English, German and what she calls “Swiss German” — and is a business major who came to Northeastern in part because of its Co-Op (Cooperative Education) academic program. The Co-Op includes a five-year rather than four-year undergrad schedule, with at least two six-month professional internships.
Though Schelling is a senior, she still has another year — and another internship — still to go. As a business major, she’s still torn between three concentrations (management, supply team management and marketing) and where to go following graduation (stay in the U.S., go to Canada or return to Switzerland). Plus, she’s interested in event management and journalism.
“I’m interested in so many things, it’s crazy,” she says, laughing. “I’ve tried to narrow it down, but whenever I narrow it down, I will come up with something else I would like to do.”
Her future also will include hockey. She’s gearing up to play for Switzerland in the next World Championship, and hopes to be on the 2014 Olympic team at Sochi. If she stays in the U.S. or Canada, she may also try to play pro hockey.
“I’m not done with hockey at all,” she says.
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Tag(s): Kaz Watch