Taking Liberties With… Annie Pankowski
Forward, University of Wisconsin (Big Ten)
Hometown: Laguna Hills
Youth Programs: Anaheim Lady Ducks, North American Hockey Academy
The sophomore is at it again this season.
One year after leading all NCAA Division I freshmen in scoring (43 points) and being selected the National Rookie of the Year, Annie Pankowski went into the winter break leading the Badgers in scoring and sitting in the top-10 nationally with 32 points in 20 games.
Pankowski already is one of the most decorated women’s players ever to emerge from the Golden State, having represented USA Hockey at last year’s Four Nations Cup and Women’s World Championships, where she scored a goal in the gold-medal game.
She also was on the U.S. National Team in advance of the 2014 Olympics.
California Rubber: What’s your favorite hockey memory growing up?
Annie Pankowski: Winning nationals when I was 12 (years old) with my (Anaheim) Lady Ducks team. We had a small little team and were definitely the underdogs. It was a really fun year.
CR: What’s your favorite memory in the game since leaving California?
AP: A little more recent was scoring a goal in the gold-medal game against Canada in the (2015) World Championships – that was one of my all-time top moments.
CR: Who have been the biggest influences on you, on and off the ice?
AP: One was my (older) sister (Ali); I always thought she was one of the coolest people I knew. She was a year and half ahead of me, so we played together every other year. When we were on the same teams, I’ve never had anybody push me as hard as she did. Emotionally and physically she always beat me up, then we’d cry about it later. Looking back, it was one of the most beneficial parts for me growing up because I had to be better than my sister. From a role model standpoint, a lot of the players who are in the National Program now have been influential – names like Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight have been at the forefront of women’s hockey. Also, being at Wisconsin there are names everywhere; there are pictures (of players) on the wall every time you walk downstairs (at the rink), so it’s one of those “I-want-to-be-like-them” moments.
CR: What’s the best piece of advice you have for young hockey players?
AP: It’s been said hundreds of times, but it’s about having fun. If it does turn into something that you want, you have to pursue that dream with everything you have; it’s not just going to come to you. As long as you’re having fun, enjoying the process and pouring yourself into the game, you’ll get so much out of it.
CR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play?
AP: I really liked soccer, and I played soccer for a while, too – that was the big one. I also played volleyball and tried lacrosse, but I wasn’t a big fan. Soccer would be my second favorite.
CR: Do you have any superstitions?
AP: When I get dressed, I always go left to right, so the left skate goes on first, right skate goes on next. I think that’s my only hockey superstition.
CR: What does your game-day routine like?
AP: I love crossword puzzles. Every game day I do a crossword puzzle because I can’t let myself do them during the week or I won’t do my homework. I usually do a USA Today crossword puzzle. My family likes to help out and usually a few teammates will help out. We have a lot of fun little handshakes we do at Wisconsin, too. Then me and another teammate always play Hacky Sack before the game.
CR: When you’re back in California, do you have a favorite meal or restaurant?
AP: There’s a place near Dana Point I like to frequent – Fisherman’s Restaurant. They have the best fish tacos in town – I’m positive of that.
CR: What are some essential items you take on a road trip?
AP: Usually I’m always doing homework, so a computer and my phone for sure with all the music and headphones. If you go on a road trip without headphones, it might be one of the longest bus rides of the year. You can’t go without a pillow or blanket – something to sleep on if it’s really long.
CR: Did you have a favorite hockey player growing up?
AP: I remember watching videos of (Alexander) Ovechkin and (Sidney) Crosby during their rookie seasons, and those were pretty cool, but my favorite player growing up was Paul Kariya; I wore No. 9 every chance I could.
CR: What’s the most challenging aspect of playing college hockey?
AP: I think there are a lot of time demands on you being a student-athlete. You have to carry a full course and go to practice every day, and every other day you have to lift. Just being able to take care of yourself from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint – making sure you get your stuff done so you’re not too stressed out – that’s probably the most taxing part of it.
CR: How much pride do you take in the growth of the girls game in California?
AP: It’s amazing. I’ll go home and Kathy (McGarrigle, the Lady Ducks’ director) tells me we have three 14U teams. I was like, “You’re kidding; there’s no way.” When I played, we had to recruit girls from Arizona and Washington just to make one team. They’re starting an 8U team, too, which is just amazing.
– Compiled by Chris Bayee