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Hockey abroad: Road trips and Oktoberfest

Searching for skate blades and road tripping across Europe

Hannah McGowan with some of the Italy imports after a game: Melissa Piacentini, Martina Kneßi, McGowan, and Nicole Renault
Hannah McGowan

Hannah McGowan, formerly of the Buffalo Beauts, packed her bags and moved to Austria to play women’s hockey abroad. She’ll be writing a player blog for The Ice Garden about her adventures in a new country and giving a first-person account on what it’s like to play in Europe. Stay tuned for more of Hannah’s stories!

Below is her second blog about her team’s first road trip and traveling around Europe.

***

My alarm goes off at 6 a.m. Game starts in 11 hours, but only after our eight-hour trip on the bus. Game day!

I bet everyone reading this is as shocked as we were when we found out we weren't traveling the night before. Not only did we leave the morning of, but our roster was two forward lines with only three defense. Our legs were heavy to say the least.

Game day.
Hannah McGowan

I guess it wasn't all bad, though. Without the day-of trip, I may have been skate-less for the game. The whole day before we left, a few of my teammates were running all around Austria trying to find me new skate blades. It was hard enough to find a store that actually had blades in stock, but then trying to get my skates sharpened on a Saturday was a disaster. Huge shoutout to Julia, who found an equipment manager who was nearby and willing to help out. I think I speak on behalf of all of us imports that we are beyond thankful for the teammates we have who help us out daily with little tasks like this. The language barrier makes it tough for us to make calls to businesses, so having teammates willing to help is a huge plus.

No trainer? No problem. My coach taped me up before practice.
Hannah McGowan

We finally made it to the rink with only about an hour and a half before we had to step on the ice for warmups. Another hiccup: I hadn't tried the new skate blades yet. Luckily, there was an open skate happening before our game, so I threw the skates on for a quick lap!

The actual game didn't end in our favor, but the first road experience was one for the books.

In between games and practices I have found some time to travel. I get comments all the time asking if I actually play hockey or just travel, I promise I play hockey too!

An iconic shot in Venice.
Hannah McGowan

Since my last blog I've traveled to Barcelona with my two roommates, Delia and Emily, where we spent most of our time at the beach and paddleboarding on the Mediterranean Sea. We also made a trip to Munich during Oktoberfest; we drove to and from in one day. It was a lot of time in the car, but it was well worth it walking around Munich in our dirndls, which is a traditional dress worn in Austria and is the go-to Oktoberfest look.

We then made a trip to Prague, where we met up with imports from some of our rival teams who we know from back home. It was pretty cool to get together and compare our different experiences of Europe. The last trip I made was to Venice. This time, I went with two of my teammates, Eve and Martina. Eve had to go for "work" so Martina and I just tagged along to make some more mems in Europe!

Oktoberfest outfits with Delia McNally, me, Emily Ford and Jennie Gallo.
Hannah McGowan

Our next trip isn't planned yet, but we do have a game this following weekend. We are looking for our first W! Now I'm off to practice in our electric car that only makes it 100 km. We can't make it to and from the rink without charging it while we're on the ice.

#EuropeanHockey

Update: Still don't know the difference between shampoo, body wash, and bath bubbles.

Me with the other Michigan import that plays for Italy in Prague, Nicole Renault.