Athlete of the Week: National champion hockey player Clair DeGeorge
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A talent that grew in Anchorage showcased itself on the national stage Sunday when Clair DeGeorge hoisted the Women’s Ice Hockey National Championship trophy.
“It’s pretty unreal, I still don’t really have much words for it,” DeGeorge said.
Ohio State defeated Minnesota Duluth 3-2 in the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four Championship on Sunday, and the Buckeyes needed every goal to win its first championship, including DeGeorge’s tiebreaking score in the final frame.
Knotted 1-1 within a minute of the third period puck drop, DeGeorge charged down the ice behind teammate Paetyn Levis, both chasing a loose puck. Levis and Minnesota Duluth goaltender Emma Soderberg met outside the crease, where the puck trickled to the trailing DeGeorge, who had just her and two Duluth defenders in her way of a critical goal.
“I looked up and I’m like, ‘my gosh, I can’t miss the net here, I have an empty net, this is a big one,’” DeGeorge recalled. “So I went to my backhand and then managed to get it through both of those players into net, so that was pretty amazing. I just turned around and celebrated with my teammates.”
DeGeorge also contributed to the win with a beautiful, between-the-legs shovel pass behind her that set up Ohio State’s first goal.
Raised in Anchorage until the age of 13, DeGeorge’s phone has hardly stopped buzzing since the final buzzer of Sunday’s game.
“It’s been great, I’ve had all my old coaches text me and it’s really cool,” she said. “Even some little girls and stuff, when I put a post up on Instagram and they’re all congratulating me which is just awesome to see that I have such a great impact on the young girls in Alaska.”
Although DeGeorge, who spends her summers in Anchorage, hasn’t gotten a chance to interact with many of her young supporters, the fact that the Anchorage-product even has the opportunity to serve as a role model to them is important to her, noting that she did not have many women hockey players to look up to.
“I didn’t even know college hockey was much of a thing for girls until probably high school,” said the former Bemidji State standout. “... It’s a great feeling, just because I didn’t have that growing up and knowing that I can be a leader and show other girls that there is an opportunity for them to play college sports and get scholarships — go get a great education and go for a national championship as well is huge and I hope that they, too, can realize that they can get to that point as well.”
DeGeorge will return to Anchorage this summer and assist in local youth camps, but will be traveling with a little more hardware this time.
Zoe Hickel, also of Anchorage, serves as an assistant coach for the Ohio State women’s hockey team.
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