Dartmouth coach returns to helm of Germany’s national women’s team

Jeff MacLeod's U18 women’s hockey team competed at world tourney

4 min read
caption Jeff MacLeod of Dartmouth coached the German national women's hockey team at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championships in Switzerland.

Twenty years after retiring from professional hockey in Europe and returning home to Nova Scotia to raise his family, Jeff MacLeod sees his life going full circle.

“When I left playing hockey and moved back to Dartmouth, it was kind of always in the back of the head to go back overseas,” said MacLeod. “Now my kids are 23 and 25 and it was a decision that my wife and I made that it was time to go back over.”

With both children out of the house, Jeff and his wife Anita headed back to Germany.

The 10-year plan

The IIHF 2024 Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championships was held in Switzerland this past month. The United States took gold while the Canadians came home with bronze.

“We have a small number of women who play hockey in Germany,” said MacLeod, adding the team isn’t the “powerhouse” the Americans and Canadians are.

He said the team’s focus was playing shifts one at a time and enjoying the opportunity “because you are playing against the best players in the world.”

Despite finishing last in the standings, MacLeod is optimistic for the future.

“For the national program here in Germany, it’s a five-to-10-year plan that we have got in place that we know we will have to be patient on. We know we have a lot of work to do but we’re on the right track and we’re excited, that’s for sure,” he said.

For the first time, every game of the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championships was broadcast on a major television network. TSN had full coverage of the tournament and a crew comprised of women handled the broadcast.

“It was really good to see young U18 hockey highlighted in Switzerland,” said MacLeod. “Watching the best young female players in the world and seeing the talent developing out of Canada was special.”

Experience as a player and coach

caption Jeff MacLeod was a member of the Acadia Axemen hockey team that won the 1993 CIAU hockey championship. MacLeod is in the second row, fifth from the right.

MacLeod has experience playing in Germany for the EC Kassel Huskies and has played for Team Canada in the 1996 Spengler Cup. Before moving to Germany, MacLeod was head coach of the King’s-Edgehill school at home in Nova Scotia. He felt well equipped to take on this role with the German national team.

“No doubt that experience helps you as a coach: … (how) to play in these short tournaments, how to not go in with too much information,” MacLeod said.

MacLeod was an “incredible hockey player” right from the start at Acadia University, according to Darren Burns, current head coach of the Acadia men’s hockey team and a teammate from his university days.

“He was an exceptional teammate . As good as he was as a player you would never know because of the way he carried himself,” says Burns. “He had no ego as a player or a person and you would always get 100 per cent honesty from him.”

A family affair

caption Jeff, son Gregor, daughter Lea and Anita MacLeod in a family photo from May 2018.

MacLeod and his wife did not move back to Germany alone. Their children have followed in Jeff’s footsteps. Lea, 23, was born in Germany and has returned to play for ERC Ingolstadt after graduating from St. Francis Xavier University. She is one season away from being eligible for the German national team. Gregor, 25, also plays hockey in Germany for Kolner Haie.

MacLeod has seen his daughter grow up through the many changes in women’s hockey. Jan 1, marked the first game of the new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) between New York and Toronto at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.

“For the last 18 years there has been a lot of growth in women’s hockey and now you are seeing the highlight of it with this tournament and the PWHL, which is incredible,” said MacLeod. 

MacLeod is proud that as a Nova Scotian he is helping to grow the game at home and abroad. He sees this as an exciting time for women’s hockey and is proud to be a part of the growth of the sport.

You can find him coaching the German women’s national team at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Utica, United States this spring.

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About the author

Cam Kinley

Cam is an aspiring video journalist from Toronto, ON with a special interest in sports media and broadcasting. He currently works for the Canadian...

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