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Talented Young Female Goalie From Southern California on Hockey Fast Track

Talented Young Female Goalie From Southern California on Hockey Fast Track

Morgan Stickney. (Courtesy of Tracy Stickney)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

8/3/2023

Updated: 8/3/2023

Turning heads is nothing new for Morgan Stickney, a 15-year-old hockey goaltender from Manhattan Beach, California, with a precocious past and an exciting future.
At the age of perhaps 5, Morgan chose to flash her first set of hand-me-down goalie pads in a rather unusual location.
“She used to put them on and wear them to the grocery store,” Morgan’s father, Ken Stickney, told The Epoch Times. “She would sit in the back of the car with the pads on. It was pretty hysterical. She never displayed any amazing talent or anything like that. She was just the little girl walking around Vons in hockey pads.”
Fast-forward to last fall, shortly after Morgan had arrived for her freshman year at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a prestigious prep school in Faribault, Minnesota known for producing outstanding male and female hockey players. Competing for Shattuck’s under-16 AAA team, with and against girls as much as two years older, the 5-foot-8 Morgan still didn’t necessarily appear to belong.
“She looks like a young kid because she is,” Shattuck Coach Ellie Doherty told The Epoch Times. “She has a real goofy smile, and she wears her hair down when she plays, so you kind of look at her and you’re like, ‘All right, is this kid ready to play?’”
Mrs. Doherty, teammates, and opponents alike soon got their answer.
Morgan Stickney. (Courtesy of Tracy Stickney)

Morgan Stickney. (Courtesy of Tracy Stickney)

In her first season playing exclusively girls’ hockey, after having competed primarily on Los Angeles Junior Kings boys’ teams in previous years, Morgan compiled eye-opening numbers. She went 23–4–3 with a 1.52 goals-against average, .928 save percentage, and six shutouts in 33 games for Shattuck.
After having split ice time almost equally with an older teammate throughout the season, Morgan seized the net at the USA Hockey National Championships in Dallas and never let go. She recorded victories over the East Coast Wizards of Bedford, Massachusetts, and MSP Magazine of Minnesota in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, before a lone power-play goal enabled Connecticut’s Mid-Fairfield Stars to edge Shattuck, 1–0, in the championship game.
“She crushed it,” Mrs. Doherty said. “She takes her craft very seriously. She takes losses to heart. What’s awesome, though, is you know you’re going to get her very best every time. That’s hard as an athlete any time, but specifically for a young athlete living away from home to be so consistent.”
While it’s pretty much all Morgan has ever known, largely because of four older siblings and all their myriad sports activities, life has been something of a whirlwind for her and her family since the national tournament concluded in early April.
There was USA Hockey’s Pacific District under-15 camp in Las Vegas, which led to a national camp at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. There were college hockey camps at Penn State, Ohio State, and Harvard, and an elite-level tournament in Toronto, where Morgan played for a Connecticut-based select team.
Along the way, Morgan drew national and international attention in May when the Portland Winterhawks of the junior Western Hockey League made her the first American female ever selected in the league’s annual prospects draft. Likely as a result, The Hockey News recently included Morgan among “others to watch” in a ranking of the world’s top 10 under-18 women’s players.
Morgan Stickney (R). (Courtesy of Tracy Stickney)

Morgan Stickney (R). (Courtesy of Tracy Stickney)

While Morgan has an invitation to attend Winterhawks training camp later this month, that has taken a backseat to another unexpected development. Despite her youth, USA Hockey surprised everyone, including the Stickneys, by selecting Morgan as one of five goalies to attend its Women’s National Festival, set for Aug. 7–13 in Lake Placid, New York.
“I’m not too nervous about that, not overthinking it, because I’m just super-fortunate to even be going at this age,” Morgan told The Epoch Times. “I have this year and hopefully next year and the next, as well. I’m just going to absorb as much as I can and have a good time.”
Three goalies are expected to be chosen for the U.S. under-18 select team, which will face Canada in a three-game series Aug. 16–19 in Lake Placid and participate in the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women’s World Championship in January in Switzerland.
Morgan’s hockey career has already come a long way from its innocent beginnings, after she watched her brother, Tyler, playing at a young age.
“He started using his little sister as a goalie,” their mother, Tracy Stickney, told The Epoch Times. “I thought, ‘I have a girl—she can do figure skating.’ So she was a figure skater for a little bit, like at 4 or 5 or 6 years old. She saw her brother playing hockey and wanted to try it. She just loved it, and never looked back.”
Morgan Stickney (C). (Courtesy of Tracy Stickney)

Morgan Stickney (C). (Courtesy of Tracy Stickney)

Outfitted in the goalie pads given to her by a friend of Tyler’s, Morgan made a rather inauspicious on-ice debut.
“I sent her out at in-house practice. The goalie pads were backward. She had a player’s stick. … That’s how little we knew about hockey,” Mrs. Stickney said. “I always say I didn’t know, and if I knew, I wouldn’t have wanted her to play goalie. But thank goodness I didn’t know because she loves it.”
A top-notch student who is studying engineering and likes “anything with math and science,” Morgan is already eyeing a career outside hockey someday. First, though, there is the matter of something she identified at a very young age.
“Probably my ultimate goal with hockey is going to college and then having a chance to make the Olympic team,” she said. “That would definitely be a dream of mine.”
While it all might seem like so much at such an early age, Morgan has managed to keep everything in proper perspective.
“One of the biggest things that sticks out to me about her is her humility,” Mrs. Doherty said. “We talk about it a lot at our school. She’s so humble and so young that I think she’s setting herself up to really have a great career and possibly have hockey be a big part of her life.”
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Dan Wood

Dan Wood

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Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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