‘Turning Point’ Puts Pelkey On The Fast Track

Coach Jim Plumer calls it the "turning point" in Amanda Pelkey's career. The senior forward says it was the jolt of self-confidence she needed. 

After being cut from the U.S. Women's National Team last June in Lake Placid, N.Y., Pelkey returned to the University of Vermont campus with a renewed focus and determination, setting the Catamounts' single season program records in goals (21) and points (40) in 2013-14. 


Amanda Pelkey #21

Position: Forward

Shoots: Right 

Height: 5-foot-3

Weight: 130 pounds 

Birth Date: May 29, 1993

Hometown: Montpelier, Vt. 

College: University of Vermont 

USA Hockey History: Represented the U.S. in three Under-18 Summer Series against Canada (2008-10), and in three IIHF Women’s Under-18 World Championships (2009-11). Participated in the 2014 U.S. Women’s National Team Selection Camp, and most recently was a member of the U.S Women’s Under-22 Select Team.

"Amanda went into the Olympic camp with nothing to lose and really bought into everything that they were doing," Plumer says. "She gained a lot of confidence from being there. She came back to Vermont feeling like she could play at that level."

Adds Pelkey, "Just having the experience of going there helped me mentally because I thought to myself, 'Wow, I can really pursue this. If I can get to this point, I can take a couple more steps and hopefully be on the team someday.' " 

It's all part of a dream that began when the Montpelier, Vt., native started stealing her brother's rollerblades from his closest. That's when her parents knew she had a genuine interest in the sport.

"My dad built a rink outside of our house, so I was constantly on that during my younger years," she recalls. "It just led to me falling in love with the game."

As she progressed into her early teenage years as a Bantam, Pelkey played mostly on boys' teams, with the now 21-year-old calling it "one of my favorite time periods in hockey." 

"I had an army of boys surrounding me to protect me and have my back," says Pelkey, who has earned two gold medals with the U.S. Women's Under-18 National Team. "Also, hockey wise, it taught me a lot about keeping my head up, being aware of the other players surrounding me."

Before joining the Catamounts in 2011, Pelkey played her final two seasons of high school hockey at the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vt., a program for just female hockey players in grades 9-12. 

In the summer of 2012 - heading into her sophomore season at Vermont and also Plumer's first year behind the bench - Pelkey sustained a broken collarbone at a U.S. National Team Evaluation Camp. The injury sidelined her for the season's first six weeks, with Plumer saying that at the end of 2012-13, she really started reaching peak form. 

Following the injury and the National Team snub, Pelkey found her stride and became a "more complete player," according to Plumer. Pelkey's extra on-ice sessions to work on her quick release, off-balance shooting and improving her overall accuracy have allowed her to transition from being not only a playmaker but also a finisher at the Div. I level. 

In her first three seasons at Vermont, she has tallied 35 goals and 39 assists.

"She's now one of the 
faces of girls' hockey in Vermont," says Plumer, who lauds Pelkey for assisting local youth programs during the summer months. 

 "She never takes a second off on the ice. Her experiences at an elite level give her an amount of respect in the room that other people just can't have."

 

 


 

YOUTH STAR

Julia Sinople
Age: 13

Glenview, Ill.

She may barely be a teenager, but Julia Sinople is already making an impact both on and off the ice. An honor roll student at Christian Heritage Academy in Northfield, Ill., Julia skates for the Chicago Fury U14 program and has future aspirations of playing college hockey. 

Away from the rink, Julia is heavily involved in her community as she volunteers with the Feed My Starving Children Program, Youth Outreach and a few soup kitchens in the Greater Chicagoland area. 

“Community service helps me be a better person,” said Julia, who also plays the violin in the Strings of the Valley Orchestra. “I’m always happy helping out others in the community. If I needed help, I’d want people to help me out, too. It’s a great blessing to be able to help others.”

Her father, Anthony, said that both her family and school place an emphasis on being a “well-rounded” individual, something you don’t always see with teenagers. 

“Christian Heritage Academy has a very holistic orientation: mind, body and spirit,” he said. “It’s very important to be a good student, to be physically fit and then be involved with your community.”

Issue: 
2014-11

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