Christen Rodriguez, Assistant Sports Editor
The Utica College women’s hockey team has been searching for a replacement at the goalie position since they lost three year starter Keira Goin, who is currently playing professionally in the National Women’s Hockey League.
In search for that next player to take the starting spot, head coach Dave Clausen has been splitting time between senior Amanda Lupo and freshman Gabrielle Igo.
“It’s not too unusual,” Clausen said. “It’s nice to know that we have options with Kiera gone. I’m just letting the kids play right now.”
Clausen says that there is no question that practice is more competitive because of the time split between the two talented goalies.
“They are looking for more reps in practice,” Clausen said. “They are both working very hard and doing well. It’s a nice situation we have this year.”
Clausen is not looking too far ahead of the situation as far as picking a starter for the rest of the season. He says they will continue to split time.
“If one steps up and shows more improvement than the other, then that one will play,” Clausen said. “But their percentages are pretty much the same, so it makes sense to split.”
Lupo says competitiveness is not something that the goalies lack at all.
“We are a group of individuals that really enjoy what we do,” Lupo said. “It is great to have someone constantly pushing us to play better so no one is slacking or falling behind.”
Lupo says she was not surprised with the goalie situation this year.
“I knew this would be the case,” Lupo said. “I’m a senior and the rest are underclassmen, so they have to also focus on building them for next year.”
The senior goalie says she and her teammates continue to work hard no matter what else is going on.
“My teammates are a group of unique individuals that truly take the term ‘work horses’ to the next level,” Lupo said. “We love to play hockey and we love to battle. No matter what, we will work hard and grind till the very end.”
Freshman Gabrielle Igo says it has truly been fun competing for playing time and does not mind it one bit.
“I thrive in a competitive environment,” Igo said. “Competing against four other goalies for playing time has helped me maintain my accountability and work ethic.”
Igo says she does not compare herself to other goalies because she feels that her biggest and only opponent is herself.
“I can get a lot better if I focus on being better than I was yesterday instead of focusing on somebody else,” she said.
Igo chose UC because she knew she could get a chance to play as a freshman, but understood the fact that nothing was going to be handed to her.
The freshman goalie is grateful for the playing time she has been awarded thus far.
“Any opportunity to play freshman year is great,” Igo said. “I feel incredibly lucky to be playing as many games as I have so far this season.”
Igo is all in for whatever the team needs in order to be successful.
“Part of being a goalie is filling in where your team needs you,” Igo said. “Whether that is on the ice in the home opener or on the bench opening the door, I take every opportunity I get and run with it because I love being a part of this team.”
Starting some games as a freshman has been a great learning experience for Igo.
“College hockey is very different from junior hockey,” she said. “And it has been a constant learning curve finding what works and what doesn’t work.”