Hockey alumni called in for 2018 Olympics

Locria Courtright, Assistant Sports Editor

Two UVM hockey alumni have been called upon to represent their nation at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month.

Former women’s hockey player Amanda Pelkey ‘15 was brought in for the US women’s team, while Ryan Gunderson ‘07 will represent the US men.

Pelkey, a native of Montpelier, has been a staple of the US women’s national team over the last few years, and has represented the Stars and Stripes at two IIHF World Championships.

Though she made a name for herself through her offense as a Catamount, holding the UVM program records for points (105), goals (49), and assists (56) according to UVM athletics, her role with the US national team has primarily been as a bottom-six defensive forward and penalty killer.

“This is such a proud day for Amanda,” said Vermont women’s head coach Jim Plumer, according to a Jan. 1 UVM athletics article. “She has worked so hard on her game since I’ve known her, and she has earned this long-time goal.”

Gunderson, a native of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, joined UVM as a walk-on non-scholarship player out of Holy Ghost Prep. A forward when he first came to UVM, he changed positions and eventually became the Catamounts’ all-time leader in games played by a defenseman, according to the article.

After graduating, he spent two years in the ECHL with the Trenton Devils and one in the American Hockey League with the Houston Aeros before heading to Europe.

He played four seasons in Sweden with Örebro HK and Brynäs IF before spending two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League with Jokerit Helsinki and Dinamo Minsk. He returned to Brynäs in 2016 and remains there.

“I could not be happier for Ryan and his family,” said UVM men’s head coach Kevin Sneddon, according to UVM athletics. “This is an amazing story of perseverance and determination.”

With the National Hockey League announcing that players would not be released for the Olympics, it opened the door for players who had carved out careers overseas, such as Gunderson.

Gunderson’s status for the Olympics is questionable, however, as he recently suffered a fractured finger and will be out 4-6 weeks, according to Brynäs IF’s website.

2018 will be the sixth straight Olympics where Catamount hockey is represented, according to UVM athletics.

In 1998, John LeClair ‘91 suited up for the US. He was joined on the US by Aaron Miller ‘93 in 2002. In 2006, Martin St. Louis ‘97 represented Canada. At Vancouver 2010, Tim Thomas ‘97 played for the US, while Klara Myren ‘15 became the first UVM women’s player to play in the Olympics, representing Sweden.

The 2014 Olympics saw St. Louis and Patrick Sharp ‘02 win gold together with Canada.

The Olympic women’s hockey competition opens on Feb. 10, while the men’s competition opens on Feb. 14.