Our amazing #19 Janine Weber in action last season in the postseason vs Buffalo. Photo by Mike Hetzel


“I like to workout, I like to compete, I like to travel, and I like to meet people"                            Franz Klammer, Olympic Gold Medalist, Downhill

In 1975, the Winter Olympics were held in Innsbruck, Austria. On February 5th, it became the sight of the the most iconic downhill ski race ever. Skiing last, Austrian Franz Klammer flew down the Patscherkofel in daredevil fashion to win the gold for his country. On a mountain that had turned to ice. Fifteen years, four months, two weeks later, our amazing #19 Janine Weber was born, in Innsbruck in the shadow of Patscherkofel. Janine has also had a legendary career on ice too. Not on a mountain, but in a rink, not with skis and poles, but with skates and sticks. And she has also won a gold medal representing her country, and will seek to do so again at the Women’s World’s next year. And as you read our interview with Janine, you will find, as we did, that the words above spoken by Franz Klammer, relate very much to Janine as well.

Janine joined the Pod last season on 1/12/20, with fifty-two NWHL games, including playoffs, under her belt. An original NWHLer, Janine had accumulated thirty-seven points in her over three seasons in the league with the Riveters (2) and the Pride (1), and earned All-Star accolades twice. In her ten games with the Whale last season, Janine picked up five assists, including a streak of four games in a row through our play-off push and our post season win in Buffalo. Janine has also had a terrific career in Europe, which we’ll touch on shortly. But we began by asking her how it was she found herself playing for the Pod last season. Janine revealed

“I think looking back, you know the last year I played in Boston (2017-2018), I hurt my shoulder. I think it was in January. I couldn’t play for a few weeks, and then was able to play with a shoulder brace. I played in the World Championships in April that year, and it just didn’t feel good The shoulder was painful and I couldn’t play to the best of my ability. And also having played for so long, I didn’t know if I still wanted to play. So I did not play that year. So then last summer when Bray (former teammate Bray Ketchum Peel) became the Whale GM she reached out to me and we kind of talked about playing maybe. But with the job that I had at the school that I worked at, it was just kind of very hard to put those two schedules together. So last summer I sort of thought about it! but didn’t end up making a decision to do it. But I kept in touch, and I was talking to Bray all year. And we were together at Kiira Dosdall’s wedding in, November I think, And part of the wedding festivities was a pond hockey game! Bray and I were kind of joking and talking about me playing again. And after Christmas, we had been talking for a while, I decided to give it a chance. I went to practice and just one thing led to another, and then I was playing again.” 

She continued “ I think by the end of the season, we had really picked up the pace. Obviously I was added to the team, and a bunch of other players we’re added halfway through. And I think the group that resulted from all that, we really came together and played some really good games. We played well against Boston and Minnesota, and we knew we had to beat Buffalo to make it into the playoffs. I think we played a good game there, and we won of course. It was also a lot of fun going to Boston to play them. And that was a very close game, until like I maybe a minute and a half to goI I don’t know what the score ended up being, but I think it was a close game most all the way to the end. And I think it’s just really fun to think what it could’ve been if the season had kept going and we kept improving. So after the season, talking to Colton and Bray I felt like I wanted to play again. Honestly, I didn’t feel like myself in those games. Really, it’s hard to get back into shape that quickly. I feel like I never got to the point where I was feeling good about how I was playing again.”

“So that is part of my wanting to come back, too.The competitiveness and all that. I definitely agree! And people kept signing and getting announced it was definitely cool to see the team take on some shape. Obviously a lot of players that have been here have come back, but we also added some recently graduated players that are definitely going to help our team so I’m just very excited that with the coaches and Bray were able to do. After playing in the league for a few years you always want to win and it’s always fun when you think that you have a team that can give you a chance to win, so I’m definitely excited about that. So I’m also excited to be able to prepare for the season and obviously now will have the longer preparation period, because we’re not playing until January. I think whatever team can make the most out of that time, to get together and jell before things start, it’s going to be a big advantage come January. Because once you start the season in January, there’s not that much time to fix things and find your way. I think you’ve got to be ready. Ready come January.“

We think all of Cetacean Nation will be excited too, by Janine’s enthusiasm for next season. And leading up to that, Janine mentioned preparation, and since this has been the offseason of the pandemic, we asked how and where she was dealing with that, and how she was making out with her training. She replied

“I’ve been living in Rhode Island, I’ve been living there the last few years, so that’s where I’ve been spending my time. I actually went to Idaho, and I just got back last week, working hockey camps. It was nice to go somewhere after so long. The rinks here in Rhode Island opened in late May. The company I work with, we started spring skate programs back in May twice a week, once the rinks started opening up. And thank God, they are still open! I don’t think there have been any cases traced back to hockey, so we are still able to skate and do our thing. It’s not the same, but with the precautions, it’s been working. “

She added “I started CrossFit a year and a half ago also, so I do that once a week. And thankfully I have some workout equipment at home, so that’s nice that I don’t have to always rely on a gym. The last couple of summers I’ve been coaching a lot, it’s fun to be on the ice. You get to learn while you coach, which is also really fun. This year, I put my equipment on once or twice a week and skated with the group for the game part. That way you get on ice conditioning which is something you can’t do any other way. No matter what you do in terms of conditioning, it’s not like actually playing hockey..We have a lot of fun, and Toby O’Brien, the guy I work for at Overspeed, loves me playing! I think he’s one of my biggest supporters. So he is always encouraging me to go and improve, even when I’m coaching. Putting my equipment on, working on some things, which is fun. There are things that I’ve learned now through coaching or from other coaches that just as a player, I don’t think I would have ever learned, or been exposed to.”

Janine(left) and Bray Ketchum back in Season One, making this Little Future Draft Pick's Day! Photo courtesy Greg Lassik

“I  work with Overspeed Hockey (www.overspeedhockey.com). I used to skate with them when I first moved to the US six or seven summers ago. I started skating with that program, and the last three years I’ve been coaching with them. It was mostly just weekends or weeknights after work, but now I’ve taken on a more full time role with them, so that’s been a lot of fun. This was the third year we went to Idaho. So the founder of the company, Toby O’Brien, his son moved to Idaho three years ago, and invited us to go out there. And we’ve been going the last three years. I actually actually went with Celeste Brown (our former #42) for the last few years. We played together on the Riveters and kind of knew each other before. It’s been a lot of fun the last three summers. We stay in the same place for about two weeks, and just get to hang out and coach, so that was a lot of fun.“

 Knowing that Celeste was a fly fisher, we asked about that because, there is some excellent trout fishing in Idaho. Janine laughed and said

 “That’s something that came up in Idaho. We’ve been meaning to go, I think she went last year. She was going to bring her flyfishing rod this year, but with going back to be Head Coach at RIT, and with a lot of stuff going on, she didn’t have time to grab her fishing gear. But definitely a lot of that out there! It’s really nice! I’ve never fly fished but fish in the salt water off the coast here. There’s a little island off the coast of Rhode Island called Block Island, and we go a lot of weekends. We do some fishing there, mostly fluke and scup. Nothing huge with our light tackle, but I really enjoy that, it’s a lot of fun and I think it’s a nice thing to do in a nice day. We’re going again next weekend so maybe I can take a picture:) I have been taking some over the last couple of years but the fish are not that impressive in size. Maybe I’ll have to pose with somebody else’s fish that’s bigger than the ones that I caught:) “

We asked if there were any other camps on the schedule with Overspeed and Janine informed us

“We actually just finished up our camps in Rhode Island. We did six weeks there, and almost 2 ½ weeks in Idaho. We have some more stuff coming up in the fall. And depending on what schools are doing, and what hockey looks like, will determine whether it’s virtual or not. We’ve been looking into some fall things, fall programs for mostly skills and individual work, and how that fits into the larger game. So usually there’s a lot of work with individual players. So we’re definitely looking into doing something in the fall. But right now, the next couple of months we are working with organizations where they bring us in to run practices or camps for them. So that’s what we’re doing the next few weeks in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but it’s through the youth organizations that bring us in to run practices for them” .

Janine also told us that she received a fortuitous Christmas present this past year that came in pretty handy during the pandemic/quarantine .She explained

“I wouldn’t consider myself a gamer, but For Christmas I got an Xbox from my husband, I guess that’s what the average person wants, and actually I was very excited. Especially when the quarantine first started. I played a lot of tennis, that was a big game. And I like Call of Duty, and we have a Star Wars game. So when quarantine first started I actually got a lot of quality time with my Xbox" she laughed. "I did not have much time with it right after Christmas, because that’s when I came back to play and all that. But I guess it turned out to be a good purchase!  E-Sports is big now, that’s going to be a big market!”

As we mentioned in the beginning of this interview, Janine is from Innsbruck Austria, in the Tirol Region. That’s in the Austrian Alps, and obviously a major ski area. So we wanted to know how little Janine got started in hockey, and how that developed. She revealed “My parents signed me up for the Learn To Skate program. We had family friends who were doing that. I was like seven, maybe six and it was more like playing games: Sharks & Minnows, and then the progression where you go from U8, U10, & U12. And I guess I had fun, and just kept doing it. Something about it I must have enjoyed, otherwise I wouldn’t have kept going until now.” she laughed. I didn’t play any other organized sports besides hockey, but I loved just going out and playing with friends and neighbors. Soccer, ping pong was big, volleyball. None of the baseball, football or basketball really, so none of the truly American sports."

We had posted a picture recently of Janine with some teammates with floorball equipment, and asked her about that as well "Oh yeah! I want to say we were in a France, and there was a scavenger hunt that our team put together for us before World’s. started. And a I think part of it was to play floorball. We had to find things in the city we were in in a France and take pictures. I was a fun scavenger hunt throughout the city, before a game started." We asked if Janine had also played floorball as a youth sport, and she told us "Not really. Usually in school, every once and awhile, maybe every couple of years they bring those sticks out for us to play. But it was mostly roller hockey I would say that we played in the summer.” 

Janine in action in for Austria in the Olympic qualifier vs Germany in 2017. Photo by Photo by Matt Roberts.

Cetacean Nation mentioned that Janine has played quite a bit in the EWHL, and had great success, winning multiple championships and accounting for more than 200 point in 100 games played. We asked her if she could tell. to us about the EWHL and her experiences. She told us

“So I think the countries in the EWHL change every year depending on who’s taking part. Austria has had two or three teams from the beginning, because the manager of the Austrian national team was part of the group that founded the EWHL. So Austria, Germany usually has a team or two, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and pretty much all the neighboring countries of Austria have participated throughout the years. But also the national teams from Kazakhstan, the Netherlands and Denmark. So depending on the year, there might be different teams. It’s just a lot of fun playing other countries. Because there are not that many teams in each country, so by taking the best teams from those countries you can actually make a league that is a lot of fun to play in and is competitive. And obviously we get to travel, Belarus was a really fun place that we went to a couple of years in a row, and also the Netherlands. They were a lot of fun! So I played for two or three years when I was still in high school in Innsbruck and then I moved to Vienna for college and I played there for four years. We had some really good teams in Vienna. Kiira Dosdall who plays for the Riveters still, was my roommate for four years, and we were teammates also. Kelly Nash played there for a year. We tried to convince her to come from the team in Belarus and join us in Vienna and she actually did! So it is just like, you meet a lot of people a lot of great hockey players. Those teams were really a lot of fun to be on.”

Cetacean Nation observed that in the NWHL Janine was once again teammates with Kiira Dodsall on the Riveters. And  in Season One she also played with future Whale Celeste Brown, Elena Orlando and Shenae Lundburg there as well. And also future GM Bray Ketchum, and former Whale Chelsea Laden. And also against current Whale teammates Shannon Doyle, Jordan Brickner and Alyssa Wohlfeiler! Janine commented  “It’s a lot of fun as we goes through game in different years with your teammates and opponents, A lot of different people that are friends, and friends with your friends And it’s just a lot of overlaps and connections.“ Janine was the first player signed by Dani Rylan for her new league back in 2015. So we asked what sticks out in the mind of the first player signed to the first professional women’s league from that very first NWHL game?And Janine gave us a unique answer! 

"Obviously the whole excitement is something that I remember.It’s hard to put into words. We worked our whole lives to get to that point. Then all of a sudden, it’s there with that first game. I think one thing I remember, and it’s very random, is I was wearing a bubble (full visor, aka fishbowl) . I think most of us were wearing a bubble in the beginning because it was encouraged by the league. And I can remember not being able to breathe! So that’s one thing I really remember about game one!” she laughed ”I took that off after one period, it just didn’t work! So that is one thing I remember. I had never worn a bubble before except for a week or so of practices and then that first game. So I just went back to my old cage, I think it was in my bag. I just said: This needs to happen NOW ! :) We scored our first goal and all that was a lot of fun obviously but I also remember it was in Connecticut and it was against the Whale. And I remember we lost.”We talked a little more about how strange it is to remember that at one time in the past, no players, not even goalies, wore helmets or masks. Janine said "I can’t even imagine something like that now. Even in warm-ups in the NHL I see guys skate around without a helmet and and it seems crazy. Accidents happen! "  

In addition to her playing experience in the EWHL, Janine has represented her native Austria in 100 international games, and scored over 100 points. We asked her to tell us about playing for Austria, and her favorite moment representing her country

."After not playing there for almost a year and a half, that’s one of the things that you don’t want to start taking for granted. All the opportunities we have playing for our country. After being away from it for a while, it’s certainly something I look forward to doing again in the future. It’s a similar group of girls every year, since I have been with the team for over 10 years. So it’s almost like family at that point. You get to go to camps, weeklong camps. You get to travel and you get to go to the World Championships. And you get to play a lot of meaningful games, so it’s definitely something that is special. And obviously you make some friends for life while you’re doing that, which is always great. And it’s fun when you have all the players who have been there. You can kind of see what they’re doing, so it’s helpful. Having a lot of players there that have been there before, just having been in the program for a couple of years before actually getting to play in the World Championships definitely helped. You’re reallyfeel pretty comfortable and confident in it. And I was always a forward. I think the last time I played defense I was maybe 10" she laughed. "I don’t think I’d do well playing defense now:)

She pondered for a bit on her favorite moment, then said,  “Umm, I think the first year we played in Division Two, that’s what it was called back then. So we won the gold medal, which enabled us to move up to Division One which was just below where the US and Canada play.That was a really cool experience as the youngest player on the team. I was sixteen. And then coming back a year later when we hosted in Austria. Everyone thought we were the big underdog but we were able to do pretty well. We finished fourth but everyone thought we were going to lose. So it was really cool to prove people wrong and just have a lot of fun home in Austria playing in front of fans at home. That was one of the best memories I think.”

So all of that play in the EWHL and for the Austrian National Team, eventually led Janine overseas to the US and Providence College. We asked her how that came about, and she disclosed an interesting series of events.

“We don’t really have college sports in Austria or in Europe in general so in college I just played for the club team in Vienna, unrelated to the university or college. And I think while Kiira Disdall was in Vienna playing, she saw a lot of young European players all over Europe. And, she saw they don’t really get seen by college coaches. You just don’t get recruited as much from Europe. Obviously some do, but in general it’s harder to get noticed when you’re so far away. So she put together a camp with a friend, bringing European players to the US to practice and do a camp for 4 days and then play in the Beantown Tournament in Boston. I was going to go as a coach and just help out but, she told me I should skate and she said: You never know what could happen! So one of the coaches from Providence was at the tournament and we started talking, and I ended up going there for my last year of eligibility:)

And, in her first game for the Friars Janine assisted on the first goal of the season at the expenses of soon to be Rivs teammate and Once and Future Whale, Shenae Lundberg! Janine had another stop before joining the NWHL in that historic first season, as she won the Clarkson Cup in the CWHL with the Boston Blades. And, it was Janine who buried the puck in the back of the net for the game winning goal. She recalled in her typical humble manner

“I was thinking that with all the awesome players we had, somebody would score before me, but that’s not how it happened.:) Yeah, once you graduate as an international student you can work in your field of study for a year and kind of extend your visa that way and work for a year. So I ended up doing that, and during that year I played for the Blades and right after that came the opportunity with the NWHL. And obviously that was helpful, because as a Austrian citizen, I need a Visa to be able to stay, you know. And obviously it was a no brainer playing in the first professional women’s league anyways, but it also allowed me to stay here and keep playing hockey here “

Before we finished up our chat with Janine, we had some additional questions for her on some scattered topics. First off, we had to ask what her usual Dunkin’ Donuts order was, and she replied “Usually it depends on what I’m in the mood for, but it’s either a cold brew black, or a green iced tea. For the most part, whatever I’m getting is iced, no matter the season, just depends on whether it’s green tea or coffee. It’s been a long while that Dunkin’ has been supporting the league, and it’s great to see a big corporation like that continuing to believe in what they see!” We were also curious about any hobbies outside of hockey that Janine might have, and she laughed and said “Anyone who knows me would probably say food! Food, cooking, thinking about what I’m going to eat next, watching the Food Network, looking at food magazines” she chuckled, “even going to the grocery store, I think a lot of it is food related.”  When asked if she’d made anything for her teammates, she replied “Yeah, I’ve baked some things and brought them in before. In New York, when we all kind of lived in the same area, we would do a team dinner or have some people cook together, so that’s definitely something I enjoy too. But I also like music. Celeste and I were really bonding over Hamilton which I think it’s just a great play and it’s out on Disney Plus. And being outside, I like going to the beach that sort of thing. And as I said. I do like to fish.”

As she is a player with some much experience both here and in Europe, Cetacean Nation was also curious about the favorite rinks she has played in.  She offered

“For some reason I always liked the Harbor Center (Buffalo) I don’t know, but personally I always played pretty well there. It’s a road trip, you get to bond with the team on the bus ride. It kind of stinks because it’s so long, but at the same time it’s fun being with the team, playing cards, having snacks. I think in college, I liked Clarkson and Vermont, older rinks with a lot of their own kind of feel to them. There’s been some really cool rinks in Europe too, just seeing how they are different in some countries. I think playing in the Prudential Center (Newark) a few years ago was a cool experience. Obviously it’s kind of weird when there’s no one in the stands. I guess 1,000 people seems like a lot until you put them in a rink that holds maybe 20,000. It kind of seems like they’re getting lost in there. But it was a pretty cool experience playing in an NHL rink.”

We had also talked about some of Janine’s favorite memories as a player, and we wondered what her favorite memory was as a fan. She responded

“The first thing that comes to my mind, I think it was 2012, the Youth Olympic Games were in Innsbruck. And it was fun to see some of my teammates from Vienna and the National Team play for Austria in my home town and go to those games. I remember the gold medal game on the boys side was Finland and Russia, I believe. I remember being so impressed with the skill level. I think the players were U16 at the time. It didn’t really matter how old they were, they were not adults, they were just a really good skilled team. It was a pretty small rink, and it was awesome to see that in my home town, and be part of that atmosphere of the Youth Olympic Games. Just seeing them play. They don’t get paid, they’re just 14/15 year old kids. But to see how much they cared about that gold medal, and I think just being so close in that small rink, that’s one of my favorite memories. And obviously the hockey was amazing. I remember one of the other games Jack Eichel was on the team for the US. And now for each team, when you look at the rosters, they have some very,, very good players that play in the NHL now. But it was fun to see young kids play for the love,of the game. It’s so pure.“

As we concluded our chat with our amazing #19 Janine Weber, we remarked how much we enjoyed the interview, and said that we thought that all of the players on the Whale we had talked to over the years were not just great athletes, but really nice people. Janine added “ I think that’s most of the players in general. Not on the ice sometimes, but off the ice:)” We reckon that's so. Cetacean Nation thanks Janine for her interesting and unique content, and knows that #19 and her teammates will be ready for Season Six. Ready come January.

Janine (L) with Kiira Dosdall-Arena who was a key player as her teammate, and in her journey to play hockey in the US