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Bringing home the gold

Gentry reflects on gold medal win with Team USA

Courtesy Photo/USA Hockey Alpena native and Team USA forward Emma Gentry (14) tries to poke the puck past Team Canada goaltender Eve Gascon in a preliminary hockey game during the IIHF’s U-18 Women’s World Championship in Slovakia. Gentry and Team USA lost that match, but ultimately defeated Canada in the gold medal game in overtime to win their fifth gold medal in six years.

At just 17 years old, Emma Gentry already has a pretty impressive hockey resume.

From playing on elite downstate teams to participating in top tier hockey camps to catching the eye of college coaches, the Alpena native’s skill and hard work has allowed her to rack up a stellar list of accomplishments.

The St Cloud State University commit and 19U Honeybaked forward can now add gold medalist to that list.

Gentry was one of 22 members of Team USA’s U-18 women’s hockey team to bring home the gold during the 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation’s Women’s World Championship in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Team USA toppled Canada 2-1 in overtime in the gold medal game to earn the World Championship on Jan. 2.

The win gave Team USA a fifth U-18 gold medal in the last six years and a 13th straight medal in the same tournament.

“Going into overtime, we knew we had to work even harder than we were during regulation and encourage each other after every shift to win in overtime,” Gentry said. “It is truly a dream come true and is a motivation to keep working hard to continue to play at that level.”

Since attending the USA Hockey Women’s National Festival in August, the past few months have been a whirlwind for Gentry, who has continued to see her hard work pay off and has already had a thrilling start to 2020 less than a month into the new year.

She left the August camp feeling good and impressed USA Hockey director Katie Million and coach Maura Crowell to get a call on Nov. 1, telling her she was one of five Michiganders to be selected to the U-18 team.

Gentry appeared in all five of Team USA’s tournament games during the tournament–which ran from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2–and finished with one point, two penalty minutes and a +2 rating.

Gentry’s sole point came in the semifinals against Russia when she’s scored Team USA’s final goal in a 3-0 win. Gentry scored in the second period, crashing the crease to bury a rebound on a shot from teammate Kirsten Simms.

“One of my strengths is my size and I was able to use it to my advantage against Russia,” Gentry said. “My teammate shot the puck which caused the rebound shot and allowed me to put the puck in the net.”

Gentry spent more than two weeks overseas in Slovakia and had plenty of familial support despite being more than 4,000 miles away from her hometown.

Her parents Natalie and Wes, sister Tori and grandparents Jim and Penny Boldrey and Carlene and Harold Carriveau were all on hand to watch her play during the tournament.

“It was important to have my family there even though I was not able to see them every day.” Gentry said. “They inspire me and it was reassuring knowing I could look up in the stands to see them supporting me and Team USA.”

With history on its side, Team USA defeated Finland (4-1) and Russia (1-0) in preliminary play before falling to Canada (2-1) before the medal round.

The semifinals on Jan. 1 pitted USA against Russia again and USA controlled play, building a 3-0 lead after two periods with the last score coming from Gentry.

In the goal-medal game the next day, Team USA took a 1-0 lead in the first period and led until Canada answered with a third-period tally.

Ultimately, it was a goal from Kiara Zanon in overtime that propelled Team USA to another gold medal.

“The team knew we had to go into the game with a lot of confidence. We all went into the game confident, supportive of each other, and knew what we would have to do to bring home the gold,” Gentry said. “Throughout the tournament our coaches told us we were there for a reason and going into the gold we had to play our best and go with the instincts we had when making plays during the game.”

Gentry’s accomplishment has been a point of pride in Alpena since Team USA’s victory. Despite a busy schedule, Gentry has found time to share her experiences with her hometown. She spoke to elementary students at Ella White last week and last Sunday she participated in an open skate at Northern Lights Arena, spending time with young skaters and taking pictures.

“I’d like to thank everyone for all the support, it was amazing and I am proud to represent Alpena and Team USA,” Gentry said. “It was a life-changing experience that I will remember forever.”