At a practice a week later, Ava Drabyk admitted she was feeling some nerves ahead of her first regular season start in the U15 SAAHL.
However, she fought through the nerves turning aside 31 shots in an 11-4 win, becoming just the first girl to ever record a win in the U15 Saskatchewan AA Hockey League.
“As it went on I felt more comfortable,” Drabyk said. It just felt amazing to know that I made it.”
“It was really gratifying, and I was proud of her,” head coach Scott Owens said. “(I was) very proud of her I know the other coaches were too.”
By today’s standard, Drabyk got a late start into hockey, joining the sport at nine, albeit as a skater. After one season playing on the point she opted to try her luck in the crease, the rest is history.
“It just came naturally to me,” she said. “Then over the years I just started (training) with a goalie coach, and playing higher levels of hockey.”
Since donning the trapper and blocker Drabyk has consistently pushed herself to play at the highest level possible even if it meant playing against boys. Starting with U11 tier one in the Flyers zone, to consecutive seasons of U13 AA, with the Express and Thunder, respectively, to this season, where she became just the eighth girl in league history play in the U15 AA league, and the first to do so with a Saskatoon team.
“The boys take the game a lot more seriously, and (are) more competitive,” Drabyk explained. “Most of these boys are a year older and they’re amazing at hockey, probably some of the best in Western Canada.”
Although making the jump to boys hockey wasn’t an easy feat to accomplish she had reassurances, after seeing it done locally; in the Flyers zone no less, by her idol Emily Clark.
“It was a big part of inspiration for me, I’ve always looked up to her, and probably always will,” Drabyk said.
It should come as no surprise then that Drabyk has aspirations of following the same path that Clark did, with the same goals in mind.
“I want to play AAA, then I want to go to college, and then hopefully Team Canada, it’s my ultimate goal,” Drabyk explained.
Just like Clark was for her, Drabyk hopes that her career successes can serve as inspiration for young female hockey players in Saskatoon, and Saskatchewan.
“It means a lot, I hope they look up to me, because, I know I looked up to older goalies when I was little,” she smiled. “I hope I’m a good role model for them.”
At just 13, Drabyk has a very sage, but simple message for those looking to follow the same path as her.
“Don’t let anything about you stop you from doing what you want to do,” she said.
“(It) doesn’t matter if you’re a girl playing boys hockey, do what you want to do,” she concluded.