Women’s hockey welcomes Swedish goalie

Courtesy Photo / facebook.com
Swedish hockey player Kajsa

Courtesy Photo / facebook.com Swedish hockey player Kajsa

Greg Monahan

Hockey is a worldwide game, and never has that been more apparent to the Grand Valley State University than when its women’s hockey team welcomed Swedish goaltender Kajsa Trolls’s to the team and to GVSU for the season.

While each skater on last year’s roster hailed from Michigan, this year the GVSU women’s team reached across the Atlantic Ocean to snag Trolls’s, a freshman who is from Trangsund, Sweden. A goaltender, Trolls’s said she hoped to play college hockey since the first day she stepped on the ice.

“It has always been a lifelong dream for me to play college hockey,” she said. “That has been my goal since I started playing at the age of 10 — I wanted the sport to take me somewhere so that I wouldn’t be stuck in my hometown all of my life. I had the U.S. and Canada as two possibilities and Allendale turned out to be the best choice for me.”

Trolls’s has spent a few months in the United States, first living with GVSU head coach Cory Whitaker. Whitaker helped her improve her English and learn some American customs, some of which Whitaker said she was quite unfamiliar with.

“At first she was awestruck,” he said. “She said everything looked like a movie because there were so many trees and so much stuff going on. Her jaw about hit the floor when she saw the Rivertown Crossings Mall.”

Trolls’s said she has had a great time since arriving in the United States.

“I love the people here,” she said. “Everyone I’ve meet has been so nice. And so far I like the weather, it’s a lot warmer here than what I’m used to.”

Still, Trolls’s did say not everything is perfect.

“I’m not so fond of the food, to be honest,” she said. “Almost everything is fried or very fatty. I find it hard to eat healthy here, I have to go to the gym often to stay in shape. However, it does taste good.”

As far as action on the ice, Whitaker said he has been very impressed with Trolls’s’ play in net during practice.

“She’s probably the most technically-sound goaltender that we’ve ever had at Grand Valley,” he said. “She’s always square to the shooter, cutting down the angle, all of those things that are going to ultimately help you at the college level.”

As one might expect with a Swedish citizen ending up in Allendale, Trolls’s’ journey to GVSU was interesting. When Whitaker received an email about Trolls?*s on the first day in April, he didn’t believe it.

“I actually thought it was an April Fools’ joke by my assistant coaches,” he said. “I received an e-mail from the director over (in Sweden) on April Fools’ Day saying that they had a Swedish goaltender that was looking to come to Grand Valley. She did her own research, whittled down her list and she ultimately decided to come here.”

Once Whitaker realized the e-mail was not a joke, he and his staff jumped at the chance to welcome Trolls?*s to Michigan. Trolls?*s said it was GVSU’s academics and the recent success of the women’s team that attracted her to the school.

“I heard that this school has a good athletic training program, and that is what I wanted to study,” she said. “Also, it seemed that the hockey team was very good, which turned out to be true.”

Teammate Sammie Baker said not is only Trolls?*s learning from her teammates, they’re learning from her as well.

“We found out they don’t have Swedish meatballs in Sweden, which is kind of weird,” she said. “So we’re going to make her some Swedish meatballs for dinner sometime.”

Trolls?*s and the Lakers will start their season on Oct. 8 at Walker Ice and Fitness Center when they face off against Western Michigan University at 9 p.m.

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