Kimberley Newell blazes own trail as goalie for the B.C. Major Midget Kootenay Ice

first_imgBy Bruce FuhrThe Nelson Daily SportsUsually by the end of a B.C. Major Midget Hockey League game Kootenay Ice goalies have seen more rubber than Goodyear Tire.Which may be a bit of a nightmare to some aspiring netminders looking to parlay a successful midget campaign into a shot at tier two junior A.Not so for Kimberley Newell.Like a heat-seeking missile, Newell sought out the Ice goal crease as the best place to improve her skills.The idea is the boy’s game is  much more or a higher tempo and competitive which should easily for the rigours of college hockey next fall at Princeton.”I wanted to play in the B.C. Major Midget League and, after my mom moved to Nelson to work with B.C. Hydro, I thought the Ice would be the best place for me to play,” the beaming 5’8″ Newell said before taking the ice at the NDCC Arena against the Okanagan Rockets.Newell experienced ups and downs against the Rockets, winning the opener 5-4 before being shelled 7-0 in the game two.”Kootenay isn’t one of the stronger teams in the league so I thought I’d get lots of shots and have a better chance to develop my skills,” Newell added.Of course this is a male league and Newell, for those keeping score at home, is a female goalie.This may pose a bit of a problem for some coaches.However, Kootenay skipper Mario DiBella saw skill and not gender when making his final decision on goaltenders for the BCMMHL squad.”The competition was stiff but Kimberley came to camp and earned her position,” said DiBella, who had the luxury of seeing Newell in action when the Vancouver native played with is daughter Beth during the spring.”As much as this is a male midget league I certainly couldn’t be in a position where I held gender against her when she had the skill set to emerge as one of the two goaltenders on this team.”Newell was born in Vancouver and lived most of the past 16 years on the Lower Mainland. Putting on the pads is something Newell aspired to do at a young age.After spending the first few years of minor hockey as a regular skater, parents Jen and Nick were finally convinced to allow Newell to try goal.”Ever since I was young I’ve been fascinated with goalies,” Newell confessed. “I don’t remember this but my mom told me I’d go to rinks and watch the goalie sessions and goalie instructors and just loved that.”Newell has not looked out of place on the Ice, starting three of the four games this season, including the first win of the season for Kootenay against Okanagan.Normally goalies split the assignments but Kootenay’s other goalie Brett Soles of Cranbrook was sick with the flu forcing DiBella to give Newell consecutive starts against the Rockets.”I’m starting to fit in with the with guys,” Newell said. “These guys are good after a few practices when they saw what I could do they accepted me and I feel part of the team now.”But the other team? Now that’s a different story.Newell has taken her share of ribbing from the opposition players. Much like the criticism Mano Rheuame experienced — Rheuame is the first and only female to play in an National Hockey League exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues in 1992 — when the Quebec-born netminder played for the Tampa Bay Lightning.”Some of the players on the other teams do try to intimidate me like “hey, it’s a girl in net” and “we’re going to light you up”.But Newell knows “trash talking” is part of the game, which “will happen wherever I go so it really doesn’t bother me,” she said.It does, irk DiBella somewhat.”We actually experience that during the exhibition season,” said DiBella, a goalie when he played hockey. “She’s very strong mentally and able to block it out. I think it take more of a toll on her coach than it does on her.”Newell stock in goal has shot up faster than shares in gold mines.So much, the Newell returned from a tour of U.S. colleges eager for her signature on the recruiting document.And the winner is?Princeton.”I visited Cornell, Yale and Princeton because I’m looking at attending an Ivy League school and when I got back I decided to commit to Princeton,” explained Newell, currently attending LVR in Nelson and expecting to graduate from high school in June. “It’s very exciting because the campus is just beautiful and it looks like (Princeton) will have a strong team and it’s obviously a great school so I’m very happy with my decision.”Fans get a chance to see Newell in action as the Kootenay Ice play host to Cariboo Cougars Saturday and Sunday at the Castlegar and District Community Complex.Game time Saturday is 4 p.m. Sunday, puck drop is 9:30 a.m.No doubt fans may want to purchase a program. Because if you don’t know it’s Newell between the pipes, you’d probably think it’s a boy by the way she plays.Ice gain single point against BlazersThe Kootenay Ice gained a single point during a B.C. Major Midget Hockey League road series in Chase against Thompson Blazers.Four players shared in the scoring in a 4-4 tie to open the two-game set.Darren Medeiros of Castlegar, Colton Dashwitz of Nakusp, Quinn Klimchuk of Castlegar and Nelson’s Brandon Sookro scored for Kootenay.Thompson won game two 4-1. Jake Lucchini of Trail scored the lone goal for the Ice.The Ice falls to 1-4-1 on the season and sits last in the 11-team BCMMHL [email protected]last_img

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