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Alaska’s Zoe Hickel scores coaching opportunity in China

By Dave Goldman 10:07 PM June 6, 2017

As one door closed on Zoe Hickel this year, another one opened.

“Perfect way to say it.” said Hickel.

The 24-year-old Anchorage native missed the cut for the U.S. Women’s National hockey team. She later received an unexpected text from a college hockey coach. “‘Hey, this is an amazing opportunity,” the text read. “Sorry to hear about the Olympic team, but want to come to China?’”

“‘Hey, this is an amazing opportunity,” the text read. “Sorry to hear about the Olympic team, but want to come to China?’”

Say what? It’s no prank, Zoe leaves in August to work with the Chinese women to develop their hockey program. It’s a one-year contract and the clock is ticking. The world championships are next spring.

“I’m pretty excited to help grow the sport over there and be the best ambassador I can for the sport,” Hickel said.

Hickel comes with winning credentials. A star at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She also helped the United States claim the gold medal at the Women’s World Championship, September in Sweden.

Soon she’ll be calling Shenzhen home. It’s located in the southeastern part of the country and serves as a connector to Hong Kong. According to the website, World Population Review, it’s home to nearly 12 million people. The last census estimated the country at nearly 1.4 billion.

But, there’s work to do, to get the team competitive on the global stage.

“They have to move to the next division, but, they’re in for the 2020 Olympics since they’re the host nation.” she said.

This all happened so fast.

“I’m really excited,” she told KTVA this morning at the Anchorage Golf Course. “China is going to be an amazing experience. It sounds like they’re excited to take on some new blood from North America.”

Also important to Zoe, was being able to continue her play in the CWHL (Canadian Women’s Hockey League). A team will be based in Shenzhen as part of the league’s expansion, which was announced this week.

Of course, amidst the excitement is one other issue — communication.

“I got an app on my phone,” she said. “Learning a little Mandarin. That’s the fun part about it.”

Hickel will enjoy her summer in Alaska; and then as it closes, the ride begins.

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