OTTAWA—One German Olympian found her competitive advantage when she traveled to hockey’s birthplace and become captain of the Carleton University Ravens.
Sara Seiler is feeling a lot of support from the fans in her second home as she competes for Germany during this week’s IIHF Women’s World Championships in Ottawa.
Seiler, a native of Hausham, Germany, moved to Canada over five years ago to join the Ottawa Raiders during the last season of the National Women’s Hockey League before it folded in 2007.
It was after that year she enrolled at Carleton University to study economics and joined the Ravens’ women’s hockey program.
Ravens coach Shelley Coolidge reflected on the difficulties that Seiler faced when moving to the country.
“Sara’s first language is German so she was in a new country learning a new language and going to school,” says Coolidge. “Her focus on academics needed to be even more focused than any of the other student athletes because you have translation as well as learning the material.”
It is Seiler’s work ethic that has helped her excel both on and off the ice. Coolidge was quick to point out Seiler’s talent in overcoming obstacles while balancing work and play.
“Sara is taking her Masters right now at Carleton, so academically she has done very well. She was on the academic honour roll every year,” Coolidge said with pride. “So it just shows her focus and commitment not only to the sport of hockey, but to being the best she can in so many different areas on the ice as well as in the classroom.
That drive and focus is what made Seiler the prime candidate for the captaincy in the end of her career as a Raven. After she completed her playing career, Seiler moved to a new position of leadership with the team as one of the team’s fitness coaches.
“Sara is very much a leader by example,” said Coolidge when asked about Seiler’s leadership style. “She is a quiet leader, but as I talked about it’s the maturity, her academic leadership and her athletic leadership.”
“She shows up everyday to bring the best out in herself and in her game. And when you look at somebody in that position of leadership, she is somebody that is very easy for the people around her to follow.”
IIHF Women’s World Championships
Seiler’s experience playing hockey in Ottawa has certainly helped her in several ways. First off, she has the support of not only her country, but also all of her local fans who are cheering her on in the stands throughout the tournament.
“It’s great that the kids come out to watch us and cheer us on,” Seiler said when asked about the many fans bearing the German red, black, and gold. “It was great to just walk in the rink and we heard ‘Go, Germany go’, it was great!”
Also, while playing with her current team, the senior AA Ottawa Ice Cats in the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, Seiler has been able to get a considerable amount of ice time that she may not see in her home country.
“I think the great advantage is that I have a lot more ice time; we practice four times a week and usually two games on the weekends,” said Seiler when asked how playing in Canada has affected her game.
“So I think it helps all your skills because you are skating and you are shooting. Just to be on the ice that much I think it is really important.”
In Wednesday’s overtime loss against Sweden, Seiler saw improvement over last year’s tournament where she collected only one assist.
She started strong by assisting Susann Gotz’s power-play goal at 13:04 in the first period. Less than two-minutes later Seiler scored the team’s second goal of tournament.
The team was unable to hold onto their lead with the Swedes scoring two unanswered goals to force overtime. They ultimately scored the winning goal less than a minute in, earning a 3-2 victory over Seiler and the Germans.
Looking forward to the games ahead, Seiler knows what she wants to focus on to help her team acquire their first victory. “As a centre, I have to play fairly defensively so I have to make sure that I am good in my faceoffs and that I don’t get scored on.”
Germany returns to the Nepean Sportsplex to face the Czech Republic at noon on Friday in their last game of the preliminary round.