Matzka Competes with Austrian National Team
WORCESTER, Mass. - College hockey players are used to having little time off throughout the year, especially during the holidays. At Holy Cross, most students go home for the month-long break in December and January, but for freshman hockey player Antonia Matzka, Christmas break means traveling home to Austria to play even more hockey.
The Mödling, Austria native has played with the Austrian National Hockey team since she was 14. She started playing with the U18 team when she was 13, but within a year, she was skating with the senior national team.
Matzka came to the U.S. to attend the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass. before beginning her collegiate career at Holy Cross. The freshman quickly became a major factor on defense for the Crusaders playing alongside the defensive veterans Victoria Young, Jackie Gellner and captain, Tori Messina.
In December, about two months into the season, Matzka went home for Christmas and picked up where she left off with the Austrian National team.
“I went home after exams and had a few days off and then got together with the team on Dec. 26,” said Matzka. “We had three days of practice, two days on the ice and one lift, and then on Dec. 29, we played two games against Hungary and the Canadian U22 National Team.”
Despite playing hockey since October, Matzka explained there were a few adjustments she had to make while playing with the national team.
“On the international team, we play on a bigger sheet of ice, and the skaters are faster because there is more room to keep the puck as compared to collegiate hockey,” Matzka said. “Here, there is less time to make decisions, you have to move the puck quicker and it is more physical.”
Matzka returned to Worcester on Jan. 3, but she will go back to Austria during Easter break to prepare for the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in France.
“Having the chance to represent my country and getting to experience things like playing in the final round of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Japan have been my favorite parts of international play,” said Matzka.