As Allie Thunstrom and the Minnesota Whitecaps enter their second season in the NWHL, things will be quite different than they were last season. They are no longer an ‘unknown’ around these parts and will look to replicate the achievements of finishing first in the league standings and taking home the Isobel Cup. If they can pull off the second part of that equation, they will become the first team in NWHL history to capture multiple and back-to-back Cups.
“It would be incredible,” Thunstrom said when asked what it would mean to pull off the feat. “This year itself was nothing short of Cinderella-like or a dream. Growing up playing street hockey and its Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, you’re working to score that winning goal. To actually have that experience be real, to duplicate it would probably be just as cool, if not cooler because you know there’s a target on your back.”
“(Last year) we were the new kids on the block, and of course, because we had been a team for so long people respected us and knew what we had to offer, but at the same time we were the unknowns,” she added. “This year I think we have a target on our back, so to be able to work through that and have a just as successful season would be pretty special.”
The best chance that Thunstrom had to win any type of championship was during her time at Boston College when her team advanced to the Frozen Four, but as she noted, “we didn’t win Hockey East (that year). The closest I probably came was winning that quarterfinal game to get to the Frozen Four, but never an official championship.”
In this summer series, we’ll go head-to-head with a different player in every edition, asking them five questions in five minutes for Season Five of the NWHL.
1) If you could invite three people to a dream dinner who would they be and why?
Wayne Gretzky, because I mean that’s pretty obvious. He is the best hockey player ever and it would be awesome to learn what his experiences were going through learning to play and all of his successes, what his favorite parts of his career were. That’d be pretty cool. The next one would be Albert Einstein. Just to get an understanding of what’s going on in that brain of his. Third would be George Washington, what was it like to be the first president of a country.
2) You’re a champion hockey player and speed skater. What are some sports/things you enjoy doing that don’t involve being on the ice?
Well, I played softball in college, so I enjoy that a lot. I also like to play soccer, and when I was in high school, I played goalie. Now when I play with my friends in women’s leagues, I play up a little more and get to run around. I really like golf. Some days my golf game is good, some days…it could use a little bit of work. More often than not, it’s like my long game will be really good, but then my putting and my short game is horrible. Or vice versa. Every once in a while though, I put them both together. Few and far between, but it happens from time to time. I’m not big into water sports though, no swimming or anything like that.
3) Where would your dream vacation be if you haven’t already gone on it?
My mom and I have always talked about going to Italy, seeing the Vatican, the Pope, doing that stuff. But the pictures of Santorini, Greece look pretty incredible so definitely something in that area, like Mediterranean, Italy, Greece, with a little bit of beach in there would be nice.
4) Coolest place you’ve been to with Izzy?
I went to an elementary school where one of my really good friends works. She had invited me, and I didn’t really know what to expect but I did little 15-20 minute sessions with all of the different grades and talked about my experience as an athlete – what it has allowed me to do in terms of school and travel. The rest of the time they got to ask me questions. Seeing them and their eyes light up about what the possibilities could be for them in the future, that was really cool to connect with kids on that kind of level. Seeing the excitement that they had upon seeing the Isobel Cup – I had one kindergartener ask if she could stick her head in the bowl. It was just really cool seeing how these kids light up in a moment like that. That was probably the most special for me.
5) Favorite non-hockey playing athlete?
Cristiano Ronaldo. I’m not a big soccer fan but I just really like him. It’s fun to watch Luke Kuechly (Carolina Panthers) and Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) because they both played football at BC and I overlapped years with them. It’s always fun to watch their success. I like the Houston Astros too.