By Victoria Rutigliano
Erica Udén Johannson, former captain of the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team, is lacing up her skates in the 2018 Winter Olympics for Team Sweden.
For many, this is a once in a lifetime experience, but for Udén Johannson, this is her third time representing her country at the games.
The 28-year-old, who graduated from Quinnipiac in 2015, played in both the Vancouver Olympic games in 2010 and in Sochi in 2014. She got a commemorative tattoo after each Olympic appearance.
During the 2013-2014 college hockey season, Udén Johannson took a year off from playing for the Bobcats to go back to Sweden and compete for a spot on Team Sweden’s roster.
To play a third year for her team, especially as one of the expert players on the roster, was something that has always been her goal, her former coach said.
“She takes so much pride in representing her country and that was always really clear,” Quinnipiac head coach Cassandra Turner said. Turner served as an assistant during Udén Johannson’s Bobcats career.
“The ability to put that jersey on and be able to represent Sweden meant a lot to her, continues to mean a lot to her, now as one of the veteran players on that team.”
In the ECAC, Udén Johannson was known for her quick shot off a pass, and helped her team to its first ever NCAA tournament appearance in her senior year.
With 42 goals and 54 assists for 96 points in 125 games as a Bobcat, Udén Johannson was someone who didn’t need a lot of words to be a leader on the ice.
“She was quiet, but she was still a very strong leader,” former teammate and current NWHL player Cydney Roesler said. “She just had this maturity about her and stuff like ‘oh my gosh, like she’s a big deal’ kind of thing.”
Sweden has finished in the top four in both of Udén Johannson’s appearances and she has scored two goals and one assist in 11 games over the two Olympics.
Udén Johannson plays professionally for Brynäs IF in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League and has racked up nine goals and six assists in 31 games.
When Turner saw Udén Johannson two years ago, she was coaching the under-22 team in Canada against team Sweden. After the game, Udén Johannson gave a Team Sweden shirt to Turner’s then two-month-old son.
“It finally fits him and I think she bought it on purpose ready for him to wear it in the Olympics,” Turner said. “He actually had it on yesterday, so it’s pretty neat that he knows somebody who is playing in the Olympics.”
As an athletic training major, Udén Johannson practiced taping her teammates ankles and brought her books to all her away games, according to Roesler.
Turner echoed these memories, noting this type of character rubbed off on other players.
“She just really could demonstrate what it’s like to balance your time and really be at your best through all elements of a student athlete’s life,” Turner said. “That maturity and approach and her experience has really helped our culture and helps it today.”
Sweden plays in the preliminary rounds from Feb. 10 to Feb. 13.