Behind the mask: Miska’s beginnings

Penticton Vees sign up to for season-long column that give fans a glimpse into the lives of junior A goaltenders

Sports editors note: Throughout the season, Miska and Olivier Mantha will write a column for the Penticton Western News giving readers insight to their lives either on the ice or away from the rink.

I started to play hockey at the age of four with the Centennial Cougars in the hockey state of Minnesota up until I was eight, then played for the North Branch hockey association until high school.

Throughout that whole time, I played as a forward. Only one year I played every other game as a goalie. I really enjoyed the position but my mother was against me playing between the pipes. She told me that I was a better forward than a goalie.

I kept playing as a forward up until I was ready to prove her wrong and make the switch.

In the summer between Grade 8 and 9 at the high school hockey meeting to sign up for the summer training program, the head coach asked who the goalies were in the room. No one had their hands up and I knew it was my time to shine. I stuck to my guns and told my mom that I was going to play goalie and that I was finished with being a forward. So I started training hard and quickly for the position before tryouts came. I earned the starting varsity job as a freshman, which I had for that season and the following.

Being a raw and a natural-talented goalie, I was invited to try out for the U.S. national team development program. They knew they could form me into the goalie they wanted with my rawness to the position. I represented the United States for the last two seasons. I played in the United States Hockey League, against National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 and 3 teams, along with international play, where I traveled to Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and here in Canada.

Now I am playing for the Penticton Vees and already off to a good start. I have a few game-day routines. I always do the same stretches and all in the same order. I always put on the right side of my hockey gear before my left.

I am very excited to keep following my dreams and see where my career can take me.