The Team USA Women's U18 hockey team claimed silver at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U-18 Women's World Championship in Heinola, Finland, earlier this month, Shakopee senior Amy Menke was a big part of that team's success.
Menke's nine points (three goals, six assists) in five games was tied for second-most in the tournament, behind teammate and fellow Minnesotan Kathryn Schipper of Brooklyn Park. Team USA was dominant through its first four games, outscoring its opponents by a combined 35-0 score, but lost a heartbreaker to Canada 2-1 in overtime in the gold medal game.
Patch caught up with Menke last Thursday after her first game back in the lineup for the Sabers — a tough overtime loss to Class A powerhouse Red Wing in which Menke had two goals and an assist — to talk about her experience in Finland.
PATCH: Overall, just tell me a little about the experience.
AMY MENKE: It was a great experience. I've never been to Europe so I thought traveling overseas was fun and exciting. It was just a good experience. We socialized with the other teams a lot. We traded clothes and got to know them as much as we could with the language barrier. It was a fun experience overall.
PATCH: Was it nice having so many other Minnesota girls on the team? (There were eight players from Minnesota on Team USA.)
AMY MENKE: That was really nice. I'm not the most experienced flier so having them in the airport was good. I've played with most of them over the last five years or so (in Selects and Elite League), so we've all gotten to know each other and we're good friends.
PATCH: Is it good to be home?
AMY MENKE: Yeah. It's fun playing with those girls; it's just good hockey, but it's fun to be back with all my friends in school.
PATCH: Was there anything that wasn't at all what you expected?
AMY MENKE: The food caught me off guard a little bit. It wasn't terrible food, but it was just a little different. Other than that, it was pretty normal.
PATCH: Was there a “coolest” part on or off the ice?
AMY MENKE: I thought it was pretty cool, one of the days after we beat Russia, we were chillin' in the lounge with them in our dorm and we became good friends with the Russian team, even though we just wupped their butts. They taught us “hi” and “goodbye” — privyet and poka — and we just became really good friends with them. And then in the championship game Russia sat with our parents and they were leading the USA cheers, so I thought that was pretty cool. Now I'm friends on Facebook — most of our team is — with the Russians.
PATCH: What do you besides play hockey?
AMY MENKE: I used to be a three-sport athlete. I used to play soccer and lacrosse, but this year I decided to stick with hockey with college coming up. I didn't really want to get hurt.
PATCH: How long ago did you commit (to the University of North Dakota) and how nice is it to have that out of the way so you can focus on hockey?
AMY MENKE: I think I verbally committed right before or right after Thanksgiving last year. (Sabers teammate) Lauren (Hespenheide) and and I, we signed during this season.
PATCH: Is this the kind of game you'd want to come back to, or would you have preferred an easier opponent?
AMY MENKE: This was a good game to come back to (after) playing that fast-paced hockey in Finland, to pretty much the hardest team we have to play.