Nussbaum skating on international stage

STU defender suits up for Swiss national team

By Jamie Ross

Lucrece Nussbaum is trading in her green and gold Tommies sweater for a jersey that feels a bit more like home.

The third-year Tommie blue liner is in Hameenlina, Finland, where she’s suiting up for the Swiss national team at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s championships beginning April 4.

It’s Nussbaum’s third world championships and she said the stakes are high going in because Switzerland’s victory over perennial powerhouse Sweden at last year’s tournament has raised the bar.

“We are defending fourth place,” she said. “We lost in the bronze medal game against Finland [last year], and I guess people are expecting more from us now that they know that we are capable of beating a team like Sweden. Before they kind of didn’t take us seriously, but now they know and there’s a lot more pressure.”

Nussbaum said the feeling she gets when she pulls the Team Switzerland jersey over her head is like no other.

“It’s a feeling that you almost can’t describe,” she said, “Because it’s a sport you love so much, and representing you country… playing the sport that you love so much, it’s a great feeling and it’s hard to describe.”

Nussbaum came to the Tommies in 2006 on the advice of alumnus Tammy Walsh.

When she got here, she said she saw improvements in her game almost immediately and credits her coaches with helping her along.

“I think every part of my game has improved a lot. It’s also because we work with a defense coach,” she said. “At home, there’s just one coach on the team.”

But at STU, she said, back end coach Ed Griffon and head coach Peter Murphy have made concentrated efforts to work with her on her skating, and it’s paid off.

“We’ve had so many drying sessions,” said Nussbaum, “And we do drills that definitely help me out.”

There are eight other Swiss players currently playing for North American teams at NCAA or CIS schools.

Nussbaum said rough and tough competition in Canada is the biggest difference from the European style of hockey she grew up with, which is played on a much bigger ice surface.

When the tournament is over, the 22-year-old won’t be away from the international game for long.

She’s a shoe-in on Team Switzerland for the 2010 winter Olympics being held in Vancouver.

It’s something she’s looking forward to.

“Every time you put that jersey on, and you stand on the blue line and you hear your national anthem,” she said. “It s an unbelievable feeling, and when you play, you zone in and have to play the best you can. Nothing else is acceptable.

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