It didn’t produce the desired result, but Jincy Dunne called her time with the U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team a great learning experience.
The 16-year-old Dunne, a native of O’Fallon, Mo., was named to the 25-player U.S. team in June but ultimately didn’t make the final 21-player Olympic roster, ending her bid to compete in Sochi, Russia, as the youngest U.S. Olympic women’s hockey player ever.
“Everything that happens to me in life is an opportunity to learn something good or bad, and this was a positive learning opportunity for me,” Dunne said. “I was obviously disappointed when I found out, but looking back, it was a great opportunity to play with such an amazing group of women, to see how they live their lives and what they do on and off the ice.”
Dunne plans to take that experience with her to Budapest, Hungary, where the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s U18 World Championship starting March 23.
“Going from the national team to the Under-18 team, I’ve been told this is your chance to be a leader and true leaders lead by example,” Dunne said. “It’s your actions, how you act, your words and how you treat your teammates. It’s getting those working in a positive manner so you can encourage and champion your teammates.”
Jeff Kampersal, coach of the U.S. U18 team, sees a player who is mature beyond her years.
“Jincy is the next best U.S. hockey player,” Kampersal said. “She’s incredibly talented, she has a great skill set and she can control a whole game.”
Possibly the most important quality that stands out to Kampersal is Dunne’s modesty.
“She’s unbelievably humble,” Kampersal said. “I think at this point she knows she’s a great player, but just talking to her you would never know that. And even as her accomplishments get bigger and she gets a crack at the big club, she’s still as humble as ever.”
Dunne’s humble beginnings can be traced to O’Fallon, Mo., a 35-minute drive from St. Louis. Her younger brother Josh wanted to try hockey so Dunne joined him, starting with roller hockey at age 4 before switching to the ice by her ninth birthday.
“I tried it and I loved it,” Dunne said.
It shows, too. Dunne, the daughter of Tom and Tammy Dunne, was named after her maternal grandmother and is the second-oldest of six children. Dunne, whose older sister Jessica committed to Ohio State University, also recently played hockey with the Westminster Christian Academy boys’ team, the St. Louis Lady Blues and the St. Louis AAA boys’ hockey team, which reached the national championship game last year.
“I love the game and I’m always trying to do what I can to be a better player and grow my game,” Dunne said. “I never want to settle, and that’s not just hockey, that’s in a lot of things. I know what my goals are and I continue to try and reach that next level.”
She got a taste of that next level with the U.S. Olympic Women’s Team.
“I learned so much… how to represent yourself, how you treat your teammates, and what it means to be team-first and dedicate yourself every day,” Dunne said. “Just being around them, it’s awesome to see, especially because there are so many great leaders and to be in the same room and learn from them was awesome.”
Dunne also received the opportunity to face the best competition in the world, regularly squaring off and defending against the likes of Julie Chu, Meghan Duggan and Amanda Kessel.
“It’s definitely intimidating at first, playing against them in practice, but it definitely made me better as a player,” Dunne said. “It was very intimidating at times, but I realized the coaches know what they’re doing and they have me here for a reason, so I’m going to trust that and keep playing my game.”
And, through her time with the national team, Dunne experienced a culture that she hopes to be part of again in the near future.
“I learned it’s a culture, it’s a family and what it means to wear the jersey… to be a team first and be part of something bigger than ourselves,” Dunne said. “That’s something I’ll always take with me, and I hope God-willing I’ll have more opportunities to wear that jersey and I can wear it just as well as they do.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials.
USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?
Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.
USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season?
Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that.
The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.
USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?
Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.
USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official?
Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.
USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career?
Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.
USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?
Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.
USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?
Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.
USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career?
Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.