Allen, Myers help 2017 U.S. Women’s National Team to bronze medal in Kazakhstan

GVL / Courtesy

GVL / Courtesy

Jacob Arvidson

Most championship medals weigh about one pound, but to the
two Grand Valley State women who won bronze medals Monday, Feb. 6, it felt a lot heavier
than that.

“To be able to lean over and have a five pound medal put on
your neck was an indescribable experience for me,” said GVSU goaltender Lauren
Allen, as tears welled up in her eyes.

Laker hockey stars Allen and forward Kendra Myers helped the
2017 U.S. Women’s National University team win the bronze medal at the World
University Games in Kazakhstan.

Myers netted the game-winner a minute and a half into the
third period of the third-place game against China to secure the bronze medal
for the red, white and blue.

“I remember the play exactly because I had just come off the
bench, and I was coming across the center of the ice for a breakout and my
defenseman hit me with a perfect pass up the center,” she said. “Once I knew it
went in the net, I just remember putting my hands in the air and remembered
that this was it and we had a great chance at winning bronze.”

Myers’ score ignited a three-goal outburst, which saw the
Americans take a thrilling 3-0 victory over China.

“It was head-to-head for pretty much the entire game,” Allen
said. “But as soon as Kendra hit that first goal, it was like a floodgate after
that. Our team just started getting so pumped. The entire bench just lit up and
we were all cheering each other on.”

The team lost 7-1 to Russia in the opener, but responded by
beating Japan 3-2 to advance to the semifinal against Canada. After falling 8-1
to Canada, a faceoff against China determined the bronze medal.

Starring as a premier attacker, Myers scored three of the
seven total goals for the U.S.

Allen started in net only once due to sickness. The
combination of smog and altitude in Kazakhstan took a heavy toll on her.

“I was pretty sick for our first week there because the smog
was so bad,” she said. “Our entire team was kind of sick. The whole altitude
change was hard for my body.”

But the positives of the experience far outweighed the
negatives, Allen said.

Allen, Myers and their teammates were treated like
celebrities by the Kazakhstan locals. Pictures and autographs became
commonplace for the Americans.

“People don’t know who you are, but as soon as they see that
U-S-A on your shoulder, or they see that you’re an American in general, they
always want to take photos with you and get your autograph,” Allen said. “I was
pretty much living my dream being over there. I was being a professional hockey
player in my eyes.”

The two stars returned to GVSU with international accolades
and medals in their pockets, but still with unfinished business. The Laker
women’s team is on a quest for a deep playoff run and Allen and Myers will play
a major role in that.

“For playoffs I think we have a target on our backs, but I
think we’ll be able to handle it if we put everything we have on the ice,”
Myers said. “If we work as a team, things will fall into place.”

GVSU heads to South Bend, Indiana Friday, Feb. 24 to begin
postseason action.