Makenzy Arsenault rewrites the script

Women’s hockey goalie making most of opportunity in the crease

Makenzy Arsenault is second in the league for goals-against average (1.31).
Makenzy Arsenault is second in the league for goals-against average (1.31).
Photo: 

Before the 2018-19 season, women’s hockey goaltender Makenzy Arsenault knew her time was coming—she just thought it wasn’t for another year.

She and the women’s hockey coaching staff had it laid out: fifth-year starting goaltender Stephanie Pascal would finish her graduating year, and Arsenault would step in to fill the spot in her third year.

Now two months into the season, none of that went according to plan.

In a preseason exhibition game against McGill, Pascal suffered a concussion and was immediately ruled out for the beginning of the season. While no one knew how long Pascal would be out for, the stage was being set for Arsenault to take the helm, even if temporarily.

“It was like, ‘Well, Mak, you’re in,’” Arsenault remembered telling herself. 

While Pascal, last year’s OUA Goalie of the Year, recovered in the stands for much of the fall semester, Arsenault has played in 10 games this season, going 6-4 in that stretch. Three of her wins have been shutouts—two of which came in consecutive wins against York and Brock.

“It was good for me to play in those games,” Arsenault said. “It gave me some confidence.”

In turn, her confidence has been absorbed by the coaching staff—she’s currently splitting the goaltending duties with Pascal as the team moves into the final eight games of their regular season. Statistically, she’s second in the league for goals-against average (1.31) and fourth for total goals against (13). Despite playing in 10 of Queen’s 16 games thus far, she ranks fifth in the OUA for wins with six.

The 2018-19 season marks a significant jump in playing time from 2017-18, where Arsenault played just four games and won three. The Whitby, ON local said her experience in goal this year is a taste of what’s to come when she imminently takes over the starting position next season.

“It was definitely a lot more pressure and stressful than being backup,” she said of adapting to a starting role. “You have to prepare ahead of time that you’re focused, [have good] nutrition, hydration […] it was definitely a big step.”

While understanding the daily processes of a starting goaltender was a leap, for Arsenault, nerves have rarely been an issue. When they’ve popped up, it hasn’t been about the stakes of the moment. Rather, they derive from a desire to translate her self-belief into confidence.

“I wanted to show myself I could do it, [and] that I could win a bunch of games and play well,” Arsenault said of her first game this season, adding it didn’t take long for her to feel at home in the crease. “Once I got a couple shots, the nerves kind of went away,” she said.

Arsenault knows she’s next in line for the top job on the Gaels. It’s an opportunity she’s excited for but also bittersweet about—her most prominent mentor in Pascal is about to make her final saves in a Queen’s uniform. 

Arsenault said it’s Pascal’s habits and practices, both physically and mentally, that have given her the foundation to pull off the run she has this year. Now, with less than half the regular season to play, she’s taking all she can get from Pascal with the time she has.

“[I’m] definitely gonna miss Steph,” Arsenault said. “It’s kind of a safety net or a mentor being lost.”

Ultimately, Arsenault’s grateful for the opportunity this season’s given her to prepare for being a starting goalie in the OUA. 

“I kind of need to take everything I’ve learned and put it into practice,” she said. “I’m definitely looking forward to it, but for this year, I hope we have a good ending too.”

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.