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Nichols grad Pfalzer harbors big dreams

When Emily Pfalzer was in middle school, she went to see the U.S. women’s national hockey team play an exhibition game in Rochester.

That’s when the dream took hold.

“I went with my friend and her dad. That put on my radar that there was a national team and an Olympic team I could play for,” the Getzville native and Nichols graduate said. “My dream since I was a little girl, once I realized I couldn’t play in the NHL, was to play for the national team.”

The dream became a reality this year for Pfalzer, who was a member of the U.S. senior national team that competed in November’s Four Nations Cup in Kamloops, B.C. The defenseman scored two goals with one assist as the U.S. took silver, losing to Canada in a shootout in the championship game.

The dream became more concrete earlier this month as she was named to the final roster for Team USA for the Women’s World Championships scheduled for March 29-April 4 in Malmo, Sweden.

There is a little domestic business Pfalzer would like to take care of before joining the national team on a gold medal quest – an NCAA championship.

The senior captain for Boston College, Pfalzer would like to add a Frozen Four title to her resume. While she’s been to two Frozen Fours, including a 3-2 overtime loss to Minnesota her sophomore season, Pfalzer has paced the Eagles into a prime position this year.

Ranked No. 1 in the country, Boston College is 30-1-2 overall entering this weekend’s Hockey East tournament. The Eagles open by hosting Providence in a best-of-three quarterfinal series.

Boston College would like to wrap up the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament field and Pfalzer would like to see her team in the title game on March 22 in Minneapolis.

“I think we’re itching to get to the championship game,” Pfalzer said. “Winning the championship game is the ultimate goal, and I think we have the team to do it this year. We’re just taking it game by game, trying to bring our best to every game. If we do that, we’ll have a good shot at winning a national championship.”

Pfalzer is the leading scoring defenseman in the country with 38 points (seven goals, 31 assists). With two more points she will become the only defenseman to reach 100 career points in Boston College women’s hockey history. She’s that special a player.

“Emily is probably the most talented defenseman to come through Boston College,” said Courtney Kennedy, in her seventh season as the Eagles’ associate head coach and a veteran of two U.S. Olympic teams.

“She’s a rushing defenseman. It’s the way she plays the game. If there’s an open puck, she’s getting it. If there’s open ice, she’s finding it. If there’s an opportunity to score, she’s taking it. She’s an all-around incredible athlete. I wouldn’t want to coach against her. She takes advantage of mistakes, and if you’re not covering her in the offensive zone, see ya later.”

Her value to the team goes beyond her point production from the blue line. She’s also that special type of captain who creates a setting where all team members feel valued, which opens up space for everyone to contribute.

“She takes time to listen to every player and realizes that everybody has a different opinion and everyone comes from a different spot,” Kennedy said. “When she is captain of this team, she works to take into account people’s feelings. Not too much, but enough so that everyone feels important. Being at Boston College for four years, she’s been in tight games and won, and she’s been in tight games and lost. She’s been in a lot of different situations and the guidance she brings to the freshmen is just incredible.”

Pfalzer will be going from senior captain to rookie defenseman in a matter of days. But that’s not much of an adjustment for her.

“I just try to be myself,” Pfalzer said. “People look up to me now that I’m in a leadership role. When I’m with the national team, I’ll be the rookie but the veterans are already making me feel comfortable. The other day Meghan Duggan sent me a text to congratulate me and tell me how excited she was for me. That makes you feel comfortable right away.”