If you Google first-year bachelor of arts student Caroline Pietroski’s name, an old goaltending training and highlight reel shows up.
Eight years later, she’s a part of the new goaltending duo for St. Thomas University’s women’s hockey team.
Pietroski, along with her goaltending partner and first-year science and technology studies major Marandee Hunter, make up the burgeoning combine for the Tommies.
Both players boast high save percentages, saving more than 95 per cent of the shots they face and allow less than two goals a game.
Different towns, same passion
Although both goaltenders moved to STU from eastern Ontario, the pair grew up in contrasting environments.
“My dad is a farmer and my mother is a teacher,” said Hunter, who is from Chatham, Ontario.
With her farming background, Hunter said she’s able to see home when she’s in New Brunswick.
Being only an hour away from the border, Hunter grew up a Detroit Red Wings fan instead of the assumed Toronto Maple Leafs. She made lots of trips to the Red Wings home Arena, Joe Louis Arena, as a kid.
“[The tradition] was passed down my family through generations,” Hunter said.
Pietroski, on the other hand, hails from Etobicoke on the west end of Toronto and describes herself as a city person. Her mother is an author and her father is a financial adviser.
Pietroski said New Brunswick is a change of pace compared to Toronto.
“It’s very different. New Brunswick is very small, there are definitely no skyscrapers here at all and less people.”
“I do like it though. It’s different, but not a bad thing.”
Both Pietroski and Hunter started playing hockey at age four, but had different introductions to the position.
“I was a player for one or two years before I became a goalie,” said Hunter.
“My team didn’t have one and I really wanted to try it. I was the only one who would volunteer to do it, so it just stuck with me after that.”
Pietroski said goaltending came naturally to her, although she was hesitant to play the position at first.
“My parents would build an outdoor rink for my brother, so I was always out there too.”
Pietroski didn’t get her shot at the position until it was her turn to play it in a game. At first, she wasn’t for the idea.
“It was one of those things where everybody has to rotate in there first year — everyone plays goalie at some point,” she said.
“I put it off the entire season, there was no way I was doing that. But I did and it stuck.”
A higher level of play
Pietroski joined the Tommies in an unorthodox way. She was already settled into Bishop’s University before she came to STU.
Though she wasn’t in as much contact with STU as she was in other schools, she was given the opportunity to be the next Tommies’ goalie.
“I really couldn’t say no.”
Hunter describes the duo as a strong partnership.
“We’ve alternated games so far and we’ve become really good friends. We’re competitive though, because we want to be as good as each other.”
Pietroski said they have different styles of playing. She said she plays a more traditional stance.
“[Hunter] is more reactionary — doing the splits to make saves [and] makes her amazing saves when her legs are spread out, but I’m definitely more simple.”
Training for the goaltenders covers a variety of drills, including flow, shooting and feet. They also cover systems like power plays, penalty kills, and breakouts.
“We have practice from Monday to Thursday at five and we workout every Tuesday and Wednesday morning,” said Pietroski.
“Sometimes we go out on the ice an hour early to just work goalie stuff with our trainer.”
Despite their demanding schedule, the Tommies have also found time to volunteer locally, like getting on the ice with kids or helping to decorating Christmas trees at nursing homes.
Pietroski is enjoying her classes at STU.
“I’m just in general arts right now, I’m taking a bit of everything, see what might spark my interest … I found psych very interesting, and environment science is something that I’m keen on.”
Hunter has been enjoying her time at St. Thomas as well, studying science and technology. She hopes to become a family physician and wants to live in New Brunswick.
Hunter hopes STU can help her achieve her personal goals to better herself.
“[I’d like] to become a better hockey player, have better time management and just learn a lot of life skills, become an adult I guess you could say.”