Dominique Kremer - From Sweden to Buffalo, With Love
Dominique Kremer is often asked if the language barrier was an issue for her in Sweden. Kremer laughs and tells them no. The more significant challenge for Kremer during her year of hockey overseas was adjusting to the European style of play. Sweden itself, in Kremer’s words, was amazing.
“I have a hard time saying anything negative about it,” Kremer said. “Everything was just a 10 out of 10 -- the environment, the people, the country itself, the culture was just amazing. It was just so cool to go to a place completely different and I’d never been before. I didn’t really know what to expect, and it just totally surpassed any expectations.”
She described European hockey as more of an east-west game -- using the width of the ice and stickhandling more -- than North America’s north-south style, which utilizes more speed, power, and strength. Kremer didn’t feel stickhandling was a strength of hers before playing in Sweden for Djurgårdens of the SDHL, but she adjusted quickly.
“For me as a defenseman, it was fun playing against players with different styles. I had to be a lot stronger with my stick because they were so good at stickhandling,” Kremer said. “I think that was another positive of Sweden -- it kind of forced me to adapt to that style of game. I think my stickhandling has definitely gotten a lot stronger because of that.’”
Kremer adapted to both the country and the different style of play soon enough, and getting out of her comfort zone made her a more well-rounded player -- and person. She came back to the United States with a new level of confidence.
“The east-west adjustment was a major improvement for me because it just rounded out my game,” Kremer said. “Being able to go someplace completely new where I don’t know anyone, I felt like I was able to make a difference and make an impact there and really help the team. I think it’s helped my confidence, and I think it’s helped me be comfortable with the uncomfortable.”
Kremer scored five goals and added 11 assists in 36 games for Djurgårdens and boasted a plus-minus of 15. The team finished the season 21-10 and lost in the semifinal round of playoffs. That was good and bad for Kremer and her teammates. Unlike the teams who made it to the finals, Djurgårdens was able to complete its season. Covid-19 shutdowns cut the finals short.
After falling in love with Sweden, Kremer considered going back for another year. But as travel restrictions carried on, she decided to stay in the U.S. and she started to explore options in the NWHL. The Buffalo Beauts seemed to be the best fit, and general manager Nate Oliver gave Kremer peace of mind right away.
“I just got a really good feeling when I was talking to the Beauts’ staff,” Kremer said. “Nate our GM is incredible, and he just made me feel like if I went to Buffalo, I would be taken care of, and that definitely is true. I’ve been very well taken care of here. I knew of some of the girls on the team, and I knew that they were not just really good players, but really good people, from mutual friends. It made me feel like Buffalo was the place for me and would really be the best fit.”
Kremer moved to Buffalo in early September and has enjoyed getting to know her new team.
“The practices are definitely nice to really get to know people better,” Kremer said. “It’s all just been a bit of a whirlwind with the Covid stuff going on and trying to get everything figured out and still get to know people. I always think it’s hard with the masks, but everyone I’ve met is awesome, and I’m sure the more I get to know them, the more awesome they’ll become.”
When the Beauts enter the bubble in Lake Placid in a few weeks, Kremer will have plenty of time to get to know her teammates. She’s played in Lake Placid before, but it’s been a while, and she’s looking forward to returning. The chance to get to know her teammates, along with the opportunity to showcase women’s hockey, has Kremer excited. NBC will air the NWHL semifinal and final games.
“People will watch it, and it’ll make women’s hockey a little more popular and bring some awareness to the game -- I’m really hoping that’ll be kind of the silver lining of this whole thing, with all the craziness of Covid going on,” Kremer said. “We’ll be doing everything together as a team. I think it’ll be a really cool opportunity for us to just get to know each other and really make some great memories and showcase women’s hockey.”
Photo credit goes to Mike Hetzel.