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Eden Prairie goalie's advice: Don't sweat the small stuff

By Star Tribune, 11/13/12, 3:56PM CST


McKenzie Johnson

Eden Prairie coach Jaime Grossman can't figure it out.

In his second year as the girls' hockey coach at the school -- and 18th year overall -- Grossman said he has never coached a player who has deserved so much recognition yet has received so little as his goaltender, McKenzie Johnson.

"It's unfair, really," Grossman said. "She works so hard at improving herself, day-in and day-out. She has that competitive edge, yet with everyone she meets, she always becomes their favorite. She's a great goalie and a great leader."

Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Johnson about her goals for her senior season.

Q Hockey season is finally here. Are you ready?

A I'm really excited. I've been getting ready for a long time. I couldn't be more excited.

Q What have you been doing?

A I played in the Fall Elite League and as a team, we've gotten together and played a lot. We're going into the season hot.

Q What do you expect?

A We have a lot of young players, but they've shown they can put the puck in the net. My biggest goal is to get to the state tournament.

Q The team won its first two games. That's a nice way to start.

A Yeah, it was. In the first game, we were a little rough early but we shook it off and scored some goals. The second game, we were down 1-0 going into the third period, but we came back to win. That took a total effort.

Q As a goalie, are you taking on added responsibility for leading a young team? A good goalie can solve a lot of problems.

A Well, we have strong leadership. Tess Roehl is a good leader on defense and I try to lead when I'm in goal. I want the team to know that they can have confidence in me and I can be a solid backbone.

Q Any future hockey plans?

A I plan on playing Division I hockey out east. I haven't decided where, but I'm looking at a few places. I hope to decide by December.

Q Why go East?

A I think it's time to go somewhere else and meet new people. And I really love seafood. Crab legs with melted butter are my favorite.

Q What does a goalie think about when the puck is at the other end of the ice?

A I think about the next play, run through scenarios in my head. I try not to overthink.

Q  Does your mind ever wander?

A  Sometimes. Ask any goalie, they'll tell you the same thing. I might sing a song that's been going through my head or think about how cold my toes are.

Q Any goalie superstitions?

A I have a lot. I always put on my left side before my right side. I juggle pucks before every game. And this is kind of embarrassing, but I always listen to Justin Bieber before the game.

Q Best part of being a goalie?

A That feeling you get when you make a big save that gives the team a huge boost or is the game- winner.

Q  Any advice for young goalies?

A Don't sweat the small stuff. Everyone mishandles a puck or makes a silly play. What separates the great goalies from the good ones is how they respond. You have to move on.