On the front line with Maddy Koughan
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