Mak­ing great saves, just like Mom

Only girl on her Atom team, goalie fol­lows hockey-play­ing par­ent in net

Edmonton Journal - - FAMILY & FITNESS - Chris Zdeb

Like mother like daugh­ter? Meghan Corn­well can’t say she was in­spired to be a hockey goalie be­cause her mom, Kee­ley Prockiw, is one, but the 10-year-old knows of no other mother-daugh­ter net­min­ders.

Prockiw can’t say she was her daugh­ter’s in­spi­ra­tion, ei­ther.

“(Meghan) has al­ways done what she wanted. But I can tell you she has a play­ing style al­most mir­ror­ing mine. She has grown up watch­ing me play and has def­i­nitely picked up on my style.”

This is Meghan’s fifth year play­ing mi­nor hockey and fourth year play­ing be­tween the pipes. She’s cur­rently back­stop­ping the Mill­woods Atom Raiders, the only girl on the team.

“I played on a girls’ hockey team for one year,” Meghan says, sit­ting with her mom in an empty dress­ing room at the Don­nan Arena, be­fore a game.

“It was Ini­ti­a­tion (begin­ner hockey for four- to six-year-olds),” says Prockiw, pick­ing up the story.

“Then we moved and the girls’ team (in the area they moved to) was play­ing two di­vi­sions lower than her old team, so to ex­cel and be bet­ter, and to get to where she wants to be later on in life, she joined a boys’ teams.

“She needs to play boys’ hockey, needs to stay with guys for now,” Prockiw says, though Meghan might join a girls’ team down the road.

Just un­der 800 girls play mi­nor hockey in Edmonton — half un­der the Edmonton Girls Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion, (egha.ab.ca), and al­most as many in the pre­dom­i­nantly male pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to Dean Hen­gel, gen­eral man­ager of the Edmonton Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion (hock­eyed­mon­ton.ca).

Girls make up nine to 10 per cent of all mi­nor hockey play­ers here, less than the national av­er­age of 15 per­cent, but Hen­gel ex­plains a ro­bust num­ber of fe­males play­ing in On­tario, a very large prov­ince, skews the national fig­ure.

The num­ber of fe­male hockey play­ers in Edmonton is fairly static and has been for the last two or three years, Hen­gel says.

“There is ca­pac­ity to grow the fe­male pro­gram. There’s a tremen­dous num­ber of ini­tia­tives and op­por­tu­ni­ties for fe­male hockey play­ers that are com­ing out as a re­sult of pro­gres­sive pro­gram­ming and cor­po­rate part­ner­ships. We’d love to see more girls play­ing in the sport.”

Suc­cess­ful elite fe­male ath­letes come up through both pro­grams. They play all po­si­tions — for­ward, de­fence and goal.

“I don’t think there’s a pre­dis­po­si­tion that if you’re a fe­male play­ing in the male pro­gram that they’re be­ing forced into play­ing de­fence, or forced into play­ing goal,” Hen­gel says. “(The po­si­tion they play) de­pends on their in­ter­est and their skill level.”

Meghan Corn­well says she plays goal be­cause “I can’t re­ally shoot. I just re­ally like be­ing a goalie.”

Her mom says Meghan de­cided when she was five years old that she wouldn’t play hockey any­more un­less she could play in goal, “so we just kind of went with it. Meghan barely knows how to move a player’s stick now.”

Prockiw, 30, has played some form of hockey most of her life — stop­ping only to have Meghan and a son, Grif­fen, 7. She was five years old too when she started in hockey.

“My dad and my brother, both, were play­ers, de­fence­men, and I wanted to play with them. My brother made me go in net so he had some­thing to shoot on,” she ex­plains.

“Grow­ing up, my best friend and I used to fight over who would play in net when we played street hockey.”

Prockiw played Atom with a girls’ team “but we played boys’ teams and they made us play in a lower divi­sion be­cause we were girls.

“I’ve played guys’ hockey mostly. Most of the girls I played with, and play with now, played guys’ hockey too, be­cause of our age and stuff.”

At first Prockiw switched be­tween play­ing in and out of net, “but then I kind of just wanted to play in net.”

The welder cur­rently plays for two women’s teams: the Divi­sion II Storm and the Divi­sion I Fort Saskatchewan Fury. Oc­ca­sion­ally, Prockiw puts on her goalie gear and works with Meghan when her daugh­ter’s team has a prac­tice.

Be­ing the last line of de­fence can be stress­ful, mother and daugh­ter agree.

“If I let in more than four or five goals, I just shut down. I get mad and I shut down,” Meghan says.

She is in her sec­ond year at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy where she is learn­ing to han­dle the stress and men­tal part of the game, her mom says. “For me, if I know I should have had that goal, it’s more frus­trat­ing than some­body get­ting a good goal on me,” Prockiw says.

“Those are also a lit­tle eas­ier to shake off than the goal I should have had.”

Meghan says most of her team­mates are sup­port­ive whether she stops or misses a shot — “they’re like ‘that’s OK, you’ll get the next one.’ ”

Win or lose, the other play­ers come out on the ice at the end of each game to give her a pat on the hel­met or her blocker be­fore lin­ing up be­hind her to shake hands with the other team.

Prockiw says she al­ways takes the blame when a shot gets past her.

“If I yell at my de­fence and I blame it on them, they’re go­ing to turn around and even­tu­ally treat me the same way and say ‘you should have had it.’

“Even if my team makes a mis­take, I al­ways tell them that it was my fault, that I should have had it.

“They know, and I know, what they did wrong and what I did wrong, so you just en­cour­age each other and other­wise keep quiet.”

Meghan says at first that she dreams about play­ing in the NHL some day, “and my mom is kind of help­ing me work for that.”

But Prockiw says she just wants her daugh­ter to go to univer­sity, hope­fully on a hockey schol­ar­ship.

“Yeah,” says Meghan. “I want to go to univer­sity be­cause be­sides hockey, I want to be an oceanog­ra­pher.”

Prockiw smiles. She’s glad not ev­ery­one in the fam­ily is a goalie: son Grif­fen plays de­fence. Her car isn’t big enough to carry a third set of goalie’s gear, she says.

Greg Southam, the Jour­nal

Mill­woods Raiders goalie Meghan Corn­well, 10, at prac­tice with her mom, Kee­ley Prockiw. They share a pas­sion for be­ing the last line of de­fence on the ice.

Greg Southam, the Jour­nal

Mill­woods Raiders goalie Meghan Corn­well at prac­tice with mom Kee­ley Prockiw, who is a goalie on a women’s hockey team.

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