Favre stands tall for Swiss
by Erin Brown|09 JUN 2022
Favre, 16, joined several Team Canada stars as teammates at Rink Hockey Academy in Kelowna, B.C. this season.
photo: Micheline Veluvolu / HHOF-IIHF Images
Margaux Favre is aware her last name carries weight in these parts of the United States. The Swiss goaltender hopes her on-ice play can steal a bit of the spotlight in her own right.

With many here in Wisconsin being fans of the NFL's Green Bay Packers and their Hall-of-Fame player Brett Favre, there are quick glances and smiles among the locals as she takes the ice.

"I really didn't know about him before," she said. "He looks like a superstar."

It is a trajectory Favre, 16, would not mind following.

Through two starts at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship, Favre has a 1.01 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage. While most other squads have split time between their netminders, Favre has carried the full workload for the Swiss.

"I always wanted to be a goalie because it's really an important role on the team and there's a lot of pressure. For me, it's good to have a lot of pressure. I like playing goalie because you can actually change the game. Even if you're playing against a really good team, as a good goalie you can change everything."

As the world — and hockey — shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Favre longed to play. She jumped at the chance to participate in a small exhibition tournament in Austria in 2021.

It changed her life.

She earned an invited to play at Rink Hockey Academy in Kelowna, B.C., where she is a teammate of Team Canada stars Brook Disher, Sara Swiderski and Jade Iginla.

It is easy to see why scouts coveted the netminder.

At 180cm and still growing, Favre's size is one of her main assets, but not a hindrance as she displays great mobility in the crease. When it is necessary to drop into a butterfly position, opponents have little, if any, opportunity to beat her down low.

"She is big and can make the difference in the game," Switzerland assistant coach Colin Muller said.

One area the Fribourg native has worked on improving is how to "be more aggressive." For that, she is inspired by Russian netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.

"He's so tall," Favre said. "I really like to see how he is playing with his height, size. I really like how he's aggressive and active, but also calm at the same time. I really like everything about him."

While the lanky Vasilevskiy inspires her game, it is Switzerland's Florence Schelling who Favre looks up to on and off the ice.

As Favre began her hockey career at the age of 9, she intently watched Switzerland, backstopped by Schelling, capture bronze at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

"I always watched her. She was just so good," Favre said. "And she was my coach two years ago at the (U18) Worlds in Slovakia. Even if I was the third goalie, it was so good to be on the ice with her. It is even more cool because I know her personally.

"She always tries to tell me what I'm doing good and also what I'm doing wrong. There are a lot of coaches that might just tell me what I am doing wrong. But she'd tell me I have really good positioning and (fundamentals), and that's really good from a coach, I think."

Favre said being in in Kelowna, over 8,000 km away from family was a bit difficult, but the opportunity was too good to pass up. And while she missed her parents, technology allowed her to chat by video with them daily.

This week, the Favre family has gotten the opportunity to connect in person.

Before the second period of her 3-1 victory over Slovakia on Tuesday, Favre had a little extra cheerleading from her father, Jean-Cyil, who motioned to her with a fist pump as she took to the crease.

"I am always looking at them (in the stands) because I can see how they are, if they think that I'm doing good or not," Favre said. "That's really helped me."

Favre said it's a "dream to play at a university" in North America. Though she is still a couple years away from graduating high school, Favre plans to visit some universities in the United States after the tournament.

"It's a bit of pressure when I'm on the ice, but it's a good pressure," she said of being scouted by colleges this week. "It's just like, 'OK, now I am being watched, so I have to be good.' But it's not too much pressure."

Finding a good fit for continuing her hockey career is important, but she's also keen on pursuing an education. Favre said she would be interested in a career in law, but could also see herself working within sports, perhaps as a coach or physiotherapist.

And with the resources and support for women's professional hockey in North America and Europe continually improving, a professional career is not out of the mix, either.

"I really would like to be a professional, too," she said. "That's just so cool that woman can actually be paid for playing hockey. I'm just so happy for this."