GAC leading scorer Billings off to hot start to season

Updated: Nov. 25, 2022 at 4:00 PM CST
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ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) - The No. 2 Gustavus women’s hockey program (8-0) is led by senior forward Clara Billings. Billings most recently put up seven points in a three-game span and was later named MIAC Athlete of the Week. The veteran talent sat down with Mary Rominger as the Golden Gusties embark on another successful season.

Mary Rominger: Clara, when you look back to all that was the remarkable finish of last season, how are you guys fueled this year wanting to take that one next step, to bring it all home?

Clara Billings: I think this year we have a lot of veterans on the team. We’re a pretty old team and so a lot of us were there that day, the day that we came in second. I think that we all did a really good job of sitting in that locker room after we had just lost in overtime and we kind of let it sink in. That is definitely kind of a fire that we have, because we don’t want to be in that situation again. We don’t want to be so close to winning the championship and fall short again. I think that that fire is really there in a lot of our veterans and I think our leadership on the team helps that fire carry over to our younger girls and help them understand how serious and big a deal that this is and really propels us to be the team that we are now.

MR: This team is so skilled, so talented and dominant of other teams. Why is that? What allows you guys to come together on the ice and put forth a product that has you guys at second nationally right now?

CB: I think one of the biggest things on our team that is pretty special is that we really buy into our systems. So, we’re a pretty disciplined team. I think that we have great coaching to help us stay on track, but by abiding by those systems and really selling out, we come together as one unit and are able to overpower these other teams. I think the discipline, the commitment to each other and to our line mates and to ourselves really helped us get to that next level and you guys know what it takes to reach the national stage.

MR: What are you guys going to need to do this season to get back in that same position? Each season has its new set of circumstances, so what is it this year that you guys are focused on?

CB: One of the big things this year that was said before every game is focus on this game. Focus on this period, on this shift, on this shot. Don’t be looking ahead to the spring or to nationals or even the next game tomorrow. Focus on this game and on what you can do to help our team be successful in that moment. I think that by remembering that kind of mantra, we are able to not, I don’t know, get excited and overworked and maybe nervous even about the next game because we’re able to just focus on what’s in front of us. I think that’s really great.

MR: You’re from Rochester, Minnesota. What can you say about hockey in southern Minnesota that allow you to get to the point where you are now.

CB: Southern Minnesota is pretty unique in the sense that it is unique in the sense that we have four high schools that all have hockey programs. So, hockey is a big deal in Rochester. The abundance of players and coaches all my friends were hockey players. Everyone followed hockey in Rochester, and I think that community really allowed all of its players and me to propel in our confidence and in our abilities to play at the next level. And so, yeah, it did a lot for me.

MR: Do you believe that, given the nature of the way last season ended, that you guys are the most dangerous team in all of Division III hockey because of what you guys have in your heart to accomplish this year?

CB: I think we’re pretty dangerous, yes. I’ll say that. I think we’re pretty dangerous because, like I said, we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder, I think, from last year, because we were second, because we went into overtime like we were so close. All of us want to win so bad and are willing to do almost whatever it takes to win that we can be pretty of interest.