By Tom Williams
Canfield High’s Megan Cole admits she was intimidated the first time she took the ice last season for the high school hockey team.
“Oh wow, when I [first went] in, it was scary, very intimidating,” Cole said. “The play was so much faster than what I was used to and practice just didn’t make up for it.”
A sophomore last season, Cole took over in goal when the Cardinals’ other goalie became ineligible.
“I got thrust into the position and I did the best I could,” Cole said. “I know I was overwhelmed.”
But the experience taught her lessons that have made her much better.
“Megan has come a long way as a goaltender,” Canfield coach Randy Emery said. “Last year, she got thrown into the lion’s den when our number-one goaltender missed half the season.
“So Megan, as a sophomore and her first year of varsity playing, had to grow up like that,” Emery said, snapping his fingers.
“She took her lumps,” Emery said. “This year, she’s gotten a lot better each game, she’s improving. We have confidence in her and she’s doing the best she can.”
Cole has been a goalie since she first played hockey at age 9. She began as a forward, then moved into goal.
“I tried it for one game and I got hurt,” Cole said. “I was crying to my Mom, [saying] I don’t want to play any more.
“And she said, ‘you’ve got to finish out the season.’ So I finished out the season as a goalie and I liked it.
“And I stuck with it.”
Canfield captains Josh Tancer and Patrick Bassett appreciate the challenges she faces.
“She has gotten a lot better,” Tancer said. “She makes jokes. She recently hurt her back and she said it’s from carrying the team, all that weight hurt her back.
“I would agree with that.”
Bassett said tending goal is a busy job on a 1-13 team.
“We do let a lot shots go by, so she’s really been a big part of the team this year, helping us out,” Bassett said.
Cole been’s playing on boys teams since she was 11. Her family moved to Canfield when she was in seventh grade.
“When I was a freshman, I played on [Canfield’s] developmental team and I was brought up for one game but I didn’t play in it,” Cole said. “But I got to watch how fast they played and how fast the game was.
“It was very intimidating, but the next year I decided let’s go for varsity. “
Last summer, Cole energized her offseason workouts, stressing running and weight-lifting in an effort to add strength and improve her reaction time.
“I love the challenge,” said Cole, who added that growing up with three brother means playing with boys is nothing new. “I love that I can play and hold my own against the guys because not many girls can do that.”
Emery is impressed.
“She’s doing the job, she is our number-one goaltender.”