From Division III to the big league


Goin blocking a shot from Russia’s national team. Source: NWHL

Cassandra Raynor, Staff Writer

Her journey began as a seven year old girl playing defense on a boys hockey team. Keira Goin is a Utica College alumni and a former goalie on the UC women’s hockey team. Her announcement that she will play professionally has made headlines since graduation.

Goin’s records throughout college set her apart from many athletes, but her background leading up to this announcement has prepared her for a career in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).

At 13 years old, Goin joined her first all girls team and focused on goaltending. After four years, she attended a New England prep school for over two years before she made her commitment to Utica College. During her years in prep school, she played travel hockey in Connecticut and won at Nationals two out of her three seasons.

Head of the UC women’s hockey team David Clausen, had scouted Goin at a recruiting camp in Massachusetts and reached out to her about visiting Utica.

“I was really impressed with her fundamentals and athleticism,” Clausen said. “I thought she had a lot of potential.”

Goin visited the campus soon after and had an overnight stay as a recruit.

“I never saw the Aud before which is a selling point for most people,” said Goin. “It had to have been my overnight visit that really sold me.”

When it comes to her training, Goin found it crucial to spend more time in the weight room. Goin believed that she has “always been underweight, especially for a goalie,” so it was important for her to build more muscle.

Her workout schedule became even more important when she had hip surgery.

“The recovery for that was rigorous and had a lot to do with strengthening the muscles and increasing my agility,” Goin said.

Goin’s busy schedule required her to focus on her time management.

She managed to excel at balancing hockey, school, internships and work. It wasn’t until her sophomore year that she found her passion of sports communication.

Goin wanted to learn more about her future career field, and that made it easy for her to balance schoolwork and athletics. She loved everything she was doing and she pushed herself to learn more.

Goin interned with the Utica Comets, Galaxy Communications, Townsquare Media and WIBX 950 First News with Keeler in the Morning. She has built a large resume for future employers, but throughout hockey, she has built up multiple awards, records and accomplishments that are helping her with the NWHL.

Throughout Goin’s collegiate career, she broke multiple records for the Utica women’s hockey program such as 40 wins and 13 shutouts. In 2016, she had a career best 55 saves in their game against #1 Plattsburgh State. Goin ended her final season with a .932 save percentage and 1.73 goals against average.

Goin was invited in May by the NWHL to a free agent camp in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Once an athlete’s NCAA eligibility ends, they are then available to be a free agent. This led to Goin being contacted by the Connecticut Whales.

The dream of professional hockey became a reality when the NWHL was established during Goin’s sophomore year.

“Clausen and I had conversations about the possibility of me trying to play pro when the league formed,” Goin said. “We both knew it was going to be a stretch, but he was supportive and helped me in whatever way I needed him to.”

After Goin attended the open league tryout, Clausen was contacted by the Connecticut Whales about her and other players at UC.

“I encouraged him (the Whales’s head coach) to give her a shot as I think she deserves it, and I believe they will be surprised to see what she’s capable of,” Clausen said.

As Goin takes on this new adventure in the NWHL, she is also experiencing professional coaching.

“My coaches have been so crucial in my success thus far,” Goin said. “The coach that had taught me so much about this position is still a close friend of mine, and now I have been given the opportunity to coach alongside his wife at Wesleyan University because of that relationship.”

Former teammate Amanda Lupo enjoyed her time she spent with Goin in their careers.

“Playing with her definitely adds a dynamic to the team on and off the ice,” Lupo said. “She was a smart goalie that did her job of stopping the puck. She did the little things, and it helped her a lot.”

Her team and coaches believe that Goin’s work ethic is what separates her from others.

“She worked hard, but she was always smarter with her effort,” Clausen said. “She always had a purpose when she was working on things. She had great angles and put herself in a position to get hit by the puck.”

With Goin’s success, Clausen would like future players to understand that “Division III athletes can play professional, too.”