Goaltender Madison Denny gave her Andover hockey teammates a taste of her abilities in a recent practice. The senior challenged 20 skaters and two coaches in a breakaway drill and stopped them all cold.
Opponents haven't enjoyed much luck, either. Denny entered this week with a save percentage of .946, ranking her among the best in the metro area. With the section playoffs fast approaching, Denny hopes to be a difference-maker in a sport where a hot goaltender makes such a huge impact.
"She's been lights out this year," Huskies coach Ben Monahan said. "A lot of time goalies are in their own world but she is the epitome of a leader on and off the ice."
Denny spoke to Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about becoming a goalie, her passion for hunting and the keys to playoff success for Andover.
Q What is your history with the goaltender position?
A I started playing hockey when I was 7 years old. I played one year at right wing and the next year I switched to goalie. I had tried playing goalie for one game because ours was sick and I got hooked.
Q What made you volunteer to fill in?
A I always liked the position because I know if I got a shutout, then I had my very best game. Whereas when you're a forward, you can't really define the best game that you could have.
Q You were a backup the past few years so what's it like being the full-time starter?
A Actually I missed the first game. I had to sit out because I have a tradition of going deer hunting with my dad so I missed a practice and then I can't play.
Q What is your history with hunting?
A I've been going for four years now. And I just got into bow hunting this year. We're kind of an outdoors family. We have a lake place just north of Grand Rapids. I've got two deer but none last fall. I didn't even see anything this year.
Q Andover came into this week having lost three of its past four games. How are you feeling about the stretch run?
A We were a little concerned that we may have peaked too early. But I think we just let ourselves get too confident, and that's why we've been struggling lately. We were ahead in all three of those games until the third period got us. But I think we'll be fine.
Q Coach Monahan likes your competitiveness. Has that always been part of your game?
A I've always had a competitive edge. It's just in my nature. I don't like to lose. Sometimes my competitive edge can be too much.
Q How does it hurt you?
A I think that my frustrations can get to me. I expect big things of myself and I don't let myself off the hook. I strive to do my best and if I let in a weak goal, it can throw me off a little.
Q The Northwest Suburban is a strong goaltending conference. Are you even more aware of playing well to give your team a chance to win those games?
A Yeah, we have a really strong conference. I like the competition I have with those other goalies. It keeps me working and keeps our team focused as well. We know we have to work hard to get pucks past those goalies.
David La Vaque • 612-673-7574