Zoe Hickel's season to savor got even tastier Saturday when the winger from Anchorage and Team USA seized the gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation's Women's World Championship in Sweden.
The Americans beat Canada 7-5 to complete their 5-0-0 run through the tournament and defend their title. Hickel skated in the championship game and logged an even rating.
In playing four of five games, Hickel finished with one goal – she scored in a 13-1 semifinal victory over Russia – and a plus-1 rating, with four shots on goal.
Hickel became the second Alaska woman to win gold at the World Championship. Defenseman Kerry Weiland of Palmer won gold with Team USA in 2008 and 2009, as well as silver in 2004 and 2007.
Hickel's gold medal marks the highlight of a season filled with accomplishment.
She led Minnesota Duluth in goals and points as a senior co-captain, racking 19-13—32 totals and a plus-9 rating in 36 games, which got her voted second-team All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Hickel also is one of five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, which will be announced Friday at the men's NCAA Division I Frozen Four in Boston. The 22-year-old has spearheaded the Great Alaska Girls Hockey Showcase, for those who cannot afford to travel the showcase circuit Outside; she has long been a volunteer coach; and she created the SHARKS kids healthy lifestyle program for elementary school children in Duluth.
Hickel's previous experience with Team USA came as a member of the Under-18 World Championship in 2010, where the Americans won silver.
Being selected to USA Hockey's national team furnished Hickel the chance to play at the highest level of the sport and put her in a pool of candidates for the 2018 Olympic team. She became the fifth Alaska woman to play in the World Championship, according to USA Hockey.