BURLINGTON – How odd is it that the only local high school student in this year’s Women’s World Championship is an 18-year-old from Topolcany, Slovakia? Indeed, though, Alica Mihalikova (who sometimes goes by her Americanized name of Alice), is part of the new guard of Slovakian hockey.
Young, inexperienced, but skilled, she hopes to make a difference here in Burlington, where she attends Rice Memorial, a prep high school in the host city. The Green Knights play their home games at Cairns Arena and won the New England championship at the Tier I level this past season, and Mihalikova was the leading scorer.
When did you start skating? Why?
When I was three years old I started to skate. My brother played hockey, so when my mother asked me what I want to do, I said play hockey with him.
Who was your first hockey hero? Why?
I think it was Wayne Gretzky.
What was the name of your first team?
It was just Topolcany. It didn’t have a nickname.
What made you want to take hockey seriously enough to play for the national team?
I want to get better and better. I always played with boys in my town when I was young, and when I got older I played with women. That’s why I came to Vermont, to get better. I found out about Rice on the internet and then contacted the hockey coach, Walter O’Brien. I sent him a video of me playing, and he told me he wanted me to come here. When I got here, I didn’t speak any English.
Why do you wear number 29?
My favourite number is 8 but I was given 29 here. My family always liked 18, so I wanted to be different, so I took 8 and my brother took 98.
Any pre-game superstitions?
No, not really.
What’s on your iPod?
I listen to everything, but maybe Rihanna is the one I like best.
What do you remember about your first game with the national team?
I was 12 years old, and the game was against Switzerland. We played in Slovakia, but I was so scared. It was such a great experience.
What’s your career highlight to date?
Playing with the national team and then coming to the U.S.
What’s your greatest strength and biggest weakness?
Strength--I score goals. Weakness? I don’t know.
Who on your team do you most admire?
I think probably Zuzana Tomcikova and Janka Culikova and Iveta Karafiatova.
What do you want to do after your playing career?
That’s a long time away, but I want to study international law and become a lawyer.
Finish this sentence. This will be a great tournament if…
…if we win the World Championship!