Cinderella story. Baptism by fire. You could call Avery Stilwell's collegiate hockey debut in goal for the Minnesota State women's team either.
The freshman tennis player, and former Litchfield High goalie, got pressed into starting duty on ice this weekend in Columbus, Ohio, against No. 2 Ohio State in WCHA action. The Buckeyes beat the Mavericks 6-3 on Friday night, and the teams play again Saturday afternoon.
Stilwell faced 51 Ohio State shots, turning back 45, and her teammates staked her to a 1-0 lead early. Two of the Buckeyes' goals came on power plays.
"It's pretty crazy, I'm not going to lie," Stilwell told the Litchfield Independent Review before Friday's game and after four days of practice. "All of the sudden I'm practicing with a Division I team, and now I'm starting."
So how did Stilwell get between the pipes? Injuries took their toll on their three goalies, with two needing surgery and one receiving a concussion, according to the Litchfield account.
At first, she joined the team as an emergency backup, and Tuesday her parents Ryan and Holly Stilwell drove down her gear, the Independent Review reported. By Wednesday, she was the starter.
Her parents made the drive to Columbus, according to the Independent Review story. And Stilwell set some realistic goals: Have fun and try her hardest.