What a week it has been for the Providence College women’s ice hockey team, and long-time forward Sara Hjalmarsson ’23GS. The graduate student from Bankeryd, Sweden has suited up for the Friars for five seasons now and has played a massive part in the program’s turnaround under head coach Matt Kelly. Hjalmarsson was a part of the Friars squad that made the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2005 and its first Hockey East championship appearance since 2012. Now she is a part of another successful Friars squad, which currently sits at No. 14 in the nation and is awaiting a Hockey East semi-finals matchup with the University of Vermont on March 1, after the Friars won 5–2 in their first matchup against the University of Maine on Feb. 25. Hjalmarsson played a key role in that victory, netting a goal early into the third period to extend the Friars’ lead to two goals.
The game was only one part of what made the week special for Hjalmarsson. The day prior to the game, it was announced that she was named the Hockey East’s Best Defensive Forward. She won that award having a significant impact on defense, evidenced by her plus/minus rating of +27 and 19 blocked shots, and while leading the team in total points. Hjalmarsson became the first Friar to win the honor since its inception. Following this, the veteran center was named to the All-Hockey East First Team, marking her as one of the best forwards in a premier conference in college hockey.
Hjalmarsson will have a chance to add to her Athlete of the Week resume following the Friars’ matchup with the University of Vermont on March 1. She has played a pivotal role in the Friars’ massive success this season and looks to continue pushing the Friars towards the third NCAA tournament bid in program history, and that is why she is this week’s Athlete of the Week.