Volume 92, Issue 17

Thursday, October 1, 1998

decisions decisions


Stingy keeper key to team's success

Randy Quan/Gazette

GOALTENDER OR ROBO COP? Either way you're not going to score. Having allowed only two goals this year, Denise Pelletier is the backbone of the women's field hockey team.

By Sean Maraj
Gazette Writer

For Denise Pelletier, the road to becoming the starting goaltender for the women's field hockey team has been filled with many twists and turns.

The 20-year-old third-year New Brunswick native, who is working towards a degree in math, has had an athletic career of great diversity. Her experience throughout 13 years of ringette, which culminated with two appearances at the national championships, is only the tip of the ice berg.

Pelletier has also competed in track and field events like shot put and the discus, resulting in five appearances at the national level representing New Brunswick, winning one silver and two bronze medals. Last year Pelletier's talents in these events landed her an appearance at the Canada Games.

"It was a learning experience, I might not have done that well but I had such a good time meeting those people," Pelletier said of her 10th place finish at the games.

Somewhere between ringette and the world of track and field, Pelletier began playing field hockey. On her high school team she was randomly chosen by her coach to fill the goaltending spot, since no one was willing to volunteer. What started out as a temporary arrangement became her position on the team for the next three years. When Pelletier came to Western she had all but given up field hockey. But again, fate stepped in and due to an injury suffered while playing volleyball, she turned to field hockey as a way to get back in shape.

"I didn't think I would live up to these expectations," she said, looking back on when she first started. Now three years later, she is both the starting goaltender and a leader on the team.

On a squad with 11 rookies and a first-time coach in Gavin Francis, Pelletier is a humble leader and quick to divert attention from herself. The team is like a family, Pelletier said. "It's a team where everyone helps each other out."

"The goalie in any sport is under a lot of pressure," Francis said. "It's real important for us to have such a confident goalie. She instills confidence in the rest of the team."

Pelletier can't hide her impact on the team. This past weekend the team won 1-0 to McGill and lost 2-0 to York. That was their first loss of the season. Add this to a 0-0 tie to Toronto last week, a team which went undefeated last year and her impact is unmistakable.

"She has tremendous anticipation and reaction," Francis said. "Her anticipation lets her always be in good position."

Pelletier is always quick to highlight the play of the team as a whole, above her own.

"We have a hard core defence, a team effort from the forwards all the way back. We've only given up two goals this year."

With Pelletier's stingy play in net, the women can concentrate on the offensive side of things heading into this weekend's tournament in Ottawa.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998