Female duo handling goalie duties for Big Reds
Paul Constazo – Times Herald 11/24/14
Big Reds confident in their female goaltenders entering the season
Ben Pionk wanted Ally Fetterly to play goalie for his Port Huron boys’ hockey team.
The Big Reds coach knew with the graduation of Max Sopha from the 2013-14 team, he would need a goalie for this season. His first choice was Fetterly.
“I’ve known Ally for a long time, so I went after her,” he said. “I talked to her. I knew she was playing with the girls, and I had been informed that the girls might not have a team, so I let her know that I was very interested in her coming here, and that I felt confident she could play here and be good.
“She has. She was excellent this weekend. We lost both games, but she gave us everything we needed to win.”
Fetterly, a sophomore, is the starting goaltender for the Big Reds. Her backup is Victoria Loxton, another sophomore. Pionk said, without a doubt, he’s confident in his goaltending situation.
It helps that two years ago another girl, Taylor Cook, joined the Big Reds late in the season and played well.
“It’s always been a question of mine whether a girl, especially at the goalie position, which is one of the toughest there is, could handle the shots of the boys or not,” Pionk said. “Taylor proved that they absolutely can. Victoria and Ally both, they’ll come right out and challenge the puck. They’re not afraid.”
Both girls agreed they feel comfortable.
“I played boys’ hockey my whole life,” Fetterly said. “I went to the (Lady Icehawks) last year, but I didn’t think they were going to have a team this year (they wound up having one after all) so I came here. My brother came here his high school career, so I figured I’d play for them.”
Fetterly starred for the Lady Icehawks a year ago, finishing the season with a 14-3-4 record while carrying a goals-against average of 1.75 with five shutouts. She comes from a hockey family and has been playing the sport since she was 6.
Her brother, Austin, was a 2013 Port Huron graduate and a standout forward for the Big Reds. He is currently playing Junior B hockey in Ontario and helping coach the Big Reds.
“I was kind of nervous for her, but I knew she would do good, she’s a solid goalie,” Austin Fetterly said. “She’s done great so far. I watched her in the four-way scrimmage — I didn’t go to (the two regular-season games) Mount Pleasant — but she did pretty well against Northern and Bloomfield United.
“She played pretty well, stopped a lot of shots I didn’t think she would. She surprised me.”
He has been shooting on her for nearly a decade, so he knows how capable she is.
“Ever since she was like 12 or 13, we knew she could play at a high level,” Austin Fetterly said. “Me and my parents have talked about taking her somewhere, but just money-wise, she wasn’t. Otherwise, she’d probably be playing AAA her whole life.
“She has the skill set to move onto college.”
Playing with the boys could benefit her in that regard.
“It could help her a ton,” Pionk said. “Getting used to playing with boys, getting used to the speed here, the power of shots, it’s going to help her a ton. Hopefully, we can get somebody to notice.”
Loxton hasn’t been playing nearly as long, saying she began playing hockey as an eighth grader. Pionk said Loxton loves the game and watches the NHL as much or more than any of her teammates.
The main difference she has noticed playing with the boys, Loxton said, is the more physical nature of the game.
“Which I like,” she added.
The two goalies have very different styles, with the much shorter Fetterly using her quickness cover the net. Loxton plays with more of stand-up style.
“(Fetterly’s) very quick, and she’s getting quicker because she’s getting used to the boys now,” Pionk said. “We’re really working with her sides-to-sides, of course, and trying to make herself as big as possible in the net. She recovers well.
“(Loxton) is getting used to the boys. She’s a work in progress, and she’s coming along nicely. I’m fully confident in them. Fully.”
The goalies are gaining confidence, too, and the welcoming feeling they get from the rest of the team plays a big part in that.
“I’ve been around most of them my whole life,” Fetterly said. “They’re all like my brothers.”
Added Loxton: “It kind of feels like a family now.”
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.