(Photo Credit: Minnesota Whitecaps) by Oliver Francies
Since the UND Women’s Hockey program was cut in 2017, its players have gone around the world. Some have moved on to other colleges, others graduated and moved on to post-hockey academic pursuits. A few, like 2016-2017 Captain, Amy Menke, have moved on to professional hockey. She is one of the Minnesota Whitecaps competing in their first season as a member of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).
I had a chance to catch up with her recently and discussed her current pursuits, some things she learned from her time at UND, and more, read on below to see my questions and her answers.So far this season, she has nine points in thirteen games with the Whitecaps. She finished her career at UND with 108 points (50 G, 58 A) in 146 games.
What has been your favorite off-ice moment of your pro hockey career?
“1. My favorite off ice moment from my pro career has been palling around with my teammates on road trips. We’ve got an awesome group of women, on and off the ice, so it’s been a lot of fun getting to know everyone better and making memories along the way.”
What was your favorite off-ice moment from your time at UND?
“2. My favorite off ice moments at UND included partaking in shenanigans with teammates. We’d hide in lockers or boxes to scare each other, try the shampoo in a towel trick, tape a paper cup on someone’s helmet during pregame skate so they didn’t know it was there but everyone else did, gift a hamster as a secret Santa (that was Gracen Hirschy actually and it was hilarious).[In addition] Gracen Hirschy and I once taped all of Halli Kryznaniak’s room decorations to her ceiling. A bean bag and all.”
What is one thing the NCAA could do tomorrow to better promote women’s hockey and women’s sports in general?
“3. The NCAA could promote women’s hockey and women’s sports better by aiding in TV time. I’m not sure if they have a role in what games/sports get real, quality air time, but all women’s sports could use more exposure on that platform.”
What is the biggest misconception people have about women’s hockey and your response?
“4. The biggest misconception about women’s hockey is that it is less entertaining because we can’t check each other. It’s true we play a different style than men, but that doesn’t mean the games are not physical.”
What was your favorite class at UND?
“5. My favorite class at UND is a toss up between anything Professor Munski taught, and my independent study taught by Professor Chuck Haga. The independent study was on how media impacts/portrays women’s sports.”
What is one thing the NHL could do tomorrow to grow the game at a grassroots level?
“6. Growing the game starts by having more exposure and opportunities for kids to try the sport of hockey. I know USA hockey sponsors a “try hockey for free” night in areas across the US. More events like that, or possibly helping in some way by getting kids the equipment to play. Many parents stray away from hockey due to the cost of the gear.”
At the pro level, do you think the NWHL/CWHL would support involvement of their top players in All-Star Weekend similar to the integration the NBA and WNBA have?
“7. Yes, I think that idea is awesome. Last year, some women’s players from the USA national team got to demonstrate the skills competitions on TV for the all star weekend. Hilary Knight even technically beat Connor McDavid’s time on the accuracy shooting challenge… Even that little bit of exposure was cool to see. But more involvement would always be very beneficial to the NWHL/CWHL.”
How long do you think it will be before the two leagues (NWHL/CWHL) integrate and how beneficial to the game would that be?
“8. Combining the two leagues will be huge for women’s hockey. As for a timeline, I’m not sure. Maybe in a couple years. Both leagues still need to grow and secure funding for travel and salary expenses.”
How proud are you to see the success of UND Women’s Hockey alums around the world and how often are you able to follow them on and off the ice?
“9. I love seeing my fellow UND alums succeeding in their new roles. I was able to play in Sweden last year with 4 of my former teammates for a couple months. That was a lot of fun. I also get to play with Tanja Eisenschmid on the whitecaps this season. Many of the UND girls that had to transfer schools are having tons of success on their new teams, which is fun to watch.”
10. What are some of the biggest things you learned from each coach you worked with at UND and how have they helped you?
“Coach Idalski taught me I shoot off the wrong foot. Sorry Brian, I still do that.
Coach Fabian taught me an awesome move on how to get through a D when I’m entering the zone on my backhand. [I] wish he would have taught me that freshman year instead of junior year.
Coach Elander taught me, and a few other former UND players [including] Jocelyn Lamoureux a move called ‘oops, I did it again’ “.