Megan Keller made an appearance last month at USA Hockey’s Women's National Team Evaluation Camp, held at the University of New England, and continues to make an impression. The 18-year old defenseman from Farmington Hills, Mich., hopes the camp was just the first of many steps on the journey to PyeongChang, South Korea for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
“I definitely have four years to improve, making my game better,” said Keller, a freshman at Boston College. “Looking up to all the older girls here, they are great players. I am taking everything they do and applying it to my own games.”
In addition to picking up tips from the U.S. Olympians and national team veterans, Keller said she learned a lot from working with Ken Klee, a former defenseman who played 15 years in the NHL and who coached the Under-22 team at the camp.
“I trust on what he knows and how he was a great player, and I take everything he tells me and apply it to my game,” Keller said.
Being a taller player — she is 5-foot-11 — Keller tries to use her size to her advantage but says she hopes to get stronger still. She also tries to mold her game after her favorite defenseman, future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom.
“He was a great leader on the ice, he moved the puck well,” Keller said. “I try to move the puck quickly, get it to my teammates, because I trust all of them on what they can do.”
Keller considers herself a very competitive player, and she thanks her older brother, Ryan, who's entering his senior season at Michigan State University, for instilling that competitiveness in her game.
“He's playing college hockey right now at Michigan State, and he has pushed me all the time when we were younger, when we were going at each other in street hockey,” Keller said. “He never let up on me. I was the one always getting hurt, but he never stopped.”
While she was one of the youngest players at the national team camp, she came with a strong pedigree of winning championships, both in Michigan and at the national level.
As a member of the famed Honeybaked program, which is also located in Farmington Hills, she won a USA Hockey Tier I 16U girls’ national title. With the U19 team in 2013, she returned to nationals, where she had five goals and an assist in five games. However, the team fell short in its run at another national title when it lost to eventual champion Assabet Valley in the semifinals.
Keller ended her midget hockey career with another U19 MAHA state championship this past year. At the national tournament, she had a goal and four assists in five contests.
Keller is no stranger to wearing the red, white and blue, either. Among her appearances with the under-18 national team was this past April, when she was on the silver-medal squad that lost to Canada at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women World U18 Championships in April. She had a goal and two assists in five games.
“At the U18’s, they beat us in the championship game and it didn't feel too well,” Keller said of losing to Canada. “But this past August, we played them [at the U22 level] and it felt good to take the series. So hopefully that will continue.”
For now, Keller is focusing on her freshman year with the BC Eagles, although college and the national team sometimes start to feel like the same thing. Seven other BC players were in Maine for September’s evaluation camp. It was the first time she played with many of them.
“It's nice to get to know them at these camps before we start practicing [for the college season],” Keller said. “I met a lot of the girls here already, so it has been an easier transition.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.