Alena Mills announces national team retirement
by Liz MONTROY|11 JUN 2023
Alena Mills #9 of Czechia hoists the third place trophy after her teams win against Switzerland in Bronze Medal Game action at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship at CAA Centre on April 16, 2023 in Brampton, Ontario.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin

After 14 years wearing the ‘C’ and 19 years in a Czech jersey—amounting to 260 games, 102 goals and 133 assists—Alena Mills has announced her retirement from Czechia’s national team.

“I started in the national team as a young girl back in 2004, and today, after 19 years, I leave as the team captain, with a heart filled with pride and gratitude, and an incredible amount of shared experiences,” Mills said in a statement.

Making her international debut at the age of 14, Mills’ skill and leadership played a direct role in the rise of Czech women’s hockey. In 2012, she captained Czechia to promotion to the top division of the IIHF Women’s World Championships for the first time in the program’s history. A decade later, she helped lead her country to historic back-to-back World Championship bronze medals.

“Alena has had one of the most successful international careers in women’s hockey,” said Carla MacLeod, Head Coach of Czechia’s women’s national team. “She has helped elevate our game not only in Czechia, but around the world. Having seen the growth of the game over the past 20 years, it is impressive how she has navigated those changes through her dedication and commitment.

“She has been motivated to elevate the Czechia women’s national team program throughout her career. For her to captain our first ever, back-to-back bronze medal wins is entirely fitting. She has helped establish a high bar for our program and we’ll continue to look to push it.”

In late 2021, Mills and the Czech women’s team qualified for their first Olympics, and Mills was bestowed with the honour of being one of Czechia’s flag bearers at the Beijing 2022 Opening Ceremony.

“The journey of women's hockey hasn't always been easy. Together, we faced numerous challenges, fought against expectations and stereotypes. But each fall and every failure only strengthened us and taught us how to be stronger, more determined, and how to constantly improve,” said Mills. “This is a testament to the character that represents Czech women's hockey. It is the lionheart beating within every Czech female hockey player.”

“One of my favourite things about playing alongside Alena on the national team has been her dedication and passion for the game,” said Katerina Mrazova, a long-time teammate of Mills who first played with her in 2007. "She always led by example, both on and off the ice. Her leadership was invaluable and her leadership skills are exceptional, inspiring us to overcome challenges and strive for greatness. Alena’s presence elevated the entire program, and her commitment to excellence left an indelible mark on our team. I am very proud of her and her career on the national team.”

Along with contributing on the ice and to the scoreboard in all 15 World Championships she competed in, Mills has served as a mentor to the next generation of players. In 2022, she coached a team at the IIHF Women’s High Performance Camp, working with U18 players from Czechia as well as 12 other countries.

“After 14 years I am pleased to pass on the captain's ‘C’ to a new generation of talented and determined female hockey players,” said Mills. “I believe that the journey of Czech women's hockey is only just beginning and that the new generation will achieve what seemed impossible to us years ago. They will further expand and strengthen women's hockey in our country. They will reach for successes that still lie ahead of us.”

Mills, who has played around the world in the NCAA, ZHL, Naisten Liiga and SDHL, is by no means departing from the sport. While she is concluding her journey as a player on Czechia’s national team, she looks towards starting a new chapter in her hockey career.

“I look forward to watching and supporting Czech women's hockey from a new perspective, and I'm ready to contribute my experiences whenever needed. I am grateful for the journey I have taken, and I can't wait to see where this path will lead the next generation of players. Although I bid farewell to my national team career today, I will never part ways with this sport.”

From playing against boys in the town of Kutna Hora as a kid, to making history for Czechia at the World Championships and becoming an Olympian, Mills’ experiences in and contributions to the sport are immense, and her legacy will live on throughout the Czech and international hockey communities.

“I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all who have stood by my side throughout this journey - coaches, teammates, family, friends, fans, and above all, my husband Thomas. It is because of you and your unwavering support that I have been able to represent for such a long time. Thank you for your support, for cheering us on, and for believing in me and our team. You all are the heart of Czech women's hockey, and your support will be needed by those who come after us. Czech women's hockey has a bright and promising future, and I couldn't be prouder to have been a small part of its history.”