On the front line with Mad­dy Kou­ghan

Vision (Canada) - - Sports - GREGG CHAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

Ma­de­leine Kou­ghan loves her home away from home in Ro­ck­land, though she wouldn’t mind if the winter this year was just a lit­tle bit war­mer, like the sea-borne sea­son in her na­tive Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

“I’m an icicle out­side,” she said, with a rue­ful smile. “Can’t seem to keep warm no mat­ter how ma­ny layers I wear.”

But du­ring her skills prac­tice ses­sions at the Ca­na­dian In­ter­na­tio­nal Ho­ckey Aca­de­my (CIHA), this Is­lan­der can burn up the ice as she speed-skates around the rink.

“When we do the on-ice fit­ness tests, my ave­rage score is in the high 17s and low 18s.”

That’s mea­su­ring in se­conds. That super speed is one rea­son why Kou­ghan, “Mad­dy” to her class­mates, is on the for­ward line, both for CIHA’s own Voya­geurs girls squad and Team PEI when she heads for Prince George next month for the Ca­na­da Winter Games.

It’s quite the leap for the girl from Mer­maid, PEI, just a short dis­tance from Strat­ford. Mad­dy got her start, lear­ning to skate at five on a lit­tle neigh­bou­rhood pond.

“Most­ly pond, and a lit­tle bit of rink,” she said.

Pond ska­ting and pond ho­ckey means a lit­tle ex­tra work for adults and chil­dren. No zam­bo­ni to keep the ice sur­face clear and clean.

“You have to scrape it (snow) off your­self,” she said, “and it’s pret­ty bum­py. You de­fi­ni­te­ly have to be ca­re­ful ska­ting.”

Her pond rink back­ground has hel­ped make Mad­dy the bane of the op­po­si­tion when she gets the puck, even when the ice inside a rink du­ring a game may be a bit “dir­ty” when hard-to-see cracks or dips that can trip up a fast-mo­ving for­ward.

“If there’s a huge di­vot in the ice, I don’t com­ple­te­ly fall,” she said, “so I keep my feet bet­ter.”

Which most li­ke­ly sur­pri­sed and an­noyed more than a few op­po­sing players when she played with the Pow­nal Red De­vils back on the Is­land be­fore co­ming to Ro­ck­land to stu­dy, train, and im­prove her ho­ckey skills even more at the CIHA.

“I’d heard real­ly good things about this school,” Mad­dy said, ad­ding that she knows two for­mer CIHA alumni from her home pro­vince who al­so trai­ned at the aca­de­my.

“I like it a lot here. Grade 12 is a big change now. You need to make sure you get things done so you have a place to go next year.”

“A place to go” for her is col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty, one with a di­vi­sion three-le­vel ho­ckey team.

“My main goal is to play ho­ckey in uni­ver­si­ty,” she said about the near fu­ture. “My other goal is to make it to the Olym­pics.”

This year’s Ca­na­da Winter Games is a step fur­ther along that path for her. She was at the Ha­li­fax Air­port when the Team PEI coach pho­ned to tell her she was on the squad.

“I was ecs­ta­tic. This has been a big goal since I star­ted playing ho­ckey. It’s a huge ho­nour.”

Af­ter uni­ver­si­ty, and if her Olym­pic dream comes true, Mad­dy has a couple ideas about where she sees her post-gra­dua­tion ca­reer plan ta­king her.

“I’m thin­king bu­si­ness (de­gree),” she said, “but I’m al­so lea­ning to­wards cri­mi­no­lo­gy.”

Wha­te­ver hap­pens, playing ho­ckey will al­ways re­main a part of her life.

“It’s a great sport,” she said. “I love the team at­mos­phere, and I love the game.”

Ma­de­leine “Mad­dy” Kou­ghan

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