Tiger Hockey Star Keady On Fast Track; Hopes to Skate On to U.S. Olympic Squad
It was the kind of devastating hit that would have immediately sidelined even the toughest of ice hockey players.
Early in the ECAC playoff opener this past March at Yale, Princeton University women's hockey star Liz Keady skated hard into an open door in the bench area, cracking a rib, rupturing her spleen, and collapsing a lung.
Fighting through pain and not knowing the extent of her injuries, Keady stayed on the ice to try to help the Tigers overcome a deficit to the Bulldogs. The Tigers fell to Yale in overtime in the opener and then with Keady in the stands for Game Two, Princeton succumbed to lose the series.
Recalling her injury, Keady said it wasn't a hard decision for her to go back on the ice. "It was definitely painful but at the time we were losing," said Keady, a native of Braintree, Mass. who is headed into her junior year at Princeton. "I hate to lose."
Keady's will to win and toughness have caught the eye of U.S. national team coaches as she made it onto the Under-22 team last summer and then ascended to the national team for the Four Nations Cup where she scored two goals and had an assist.
The 5'6 Keady was named to the U.S. squad for the World Championships this past spring but could not go due to the injuries she suffered at Yale.
This week, Keady heads to Lake Placid, N.Y. where she will be one of 40 players competing at the USA Hockey National Women's Festival that will serve as the selection camp for the U.S. team to compete at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
Keady will bring her passion for the game to Lake Placid as she looks to earn a spot on the U.S. squad.
"I'm definitely really excited," said Keady in a recent interview between sessions at the Princeton women's ice hockey camp. "I think I need to go out there and work as hard as I can; hopefully good things will come from that."
Princeton women's hockey coach Jeff Kampersal will tell you that good things have come from Keady's special diligence.
"Liz is by far the hardest worker that we've ever had," asserted Kampersal. "She's constantly at it. She eats, lives, and breathes hockey. She doesn't do it to just do it. She enjoys the weight training, she enjoys the skating workouts. She really wants it."
In assessing Keady's meteoric rise through the U.S. ranks, Kampersal sees speed as her chief asset. "Liz's strength is getting from point A to point B on the ice," explained Kampersal. "She can really pressure the puck and that's what she needs to do up there."
Keady's speed helped her emerge last winter as one of Princeton's top guns as she scored 28 points on 15 goals and 13 assists to be chosen by her teammates as the squad's co-MVP and Most Improved Player.
The modest Keady spreads the credit in assessing her rapid progress. "I definitely got faster between my freshman year and sophomore year," said Keady, who has the chiseled muscle tone of a triathlete.
"Jeff helped me with power skating. I felt a comfort level as a sophomore. When you walk into that locker room, you have your 23 best friends right there. I find that in the game of hockey a lot of it is uncontrollable. You can control how hard you work and always improve."
Keady reached a comfort level with the U.S. national team during the Four Nations Cup. "That was a really good experience," recalled Keady. "It was good to play with the older players that have competed at that level. It is a very talented group."
A talented group that could include Keady when the selections are announced at the end of the camp which runs from August 18-25.
"It would be incredible," asserted Keady, who would have to take a year off from Princeton in order to compete in the Winter Games. "So many players go out and work hard everyday. To get recognized like that would be great."
With her toughness and unyielding work ethic, Keady is a good bet to earn a lot more recognition in the hockey world.