The number of goaltenders from North Bay moving on to play college hockey has been growing in leaps and bounds recently.
Colton Point is in his sophomore season with Colgate, and local product Nate McDonald recently committed to Cornell for the 2018-19 season.
On the ladies side, Danika Ranger is starting her first season with the OUA’s Nipissing Lakers and Loryn Porter is tending goal for the University of Maine Black Bears.
The 17-year-old, who doesn’t turn 18 until November, played last season with the Mississauga Chiefs of the PWHL before her commitment to the high profile Hockey East school.
“In a small hockey community you get to play with/against everyone at some point,” said Porter, who attended a Team Canada camp with Ranger in 2016.
Growing up in North Bay, Porter shuffled between playing with the boys and the girls during her minor hockey days in North Bay.
“I was goalie partner with Nate McDonald in Major Bantam AAA, and practiced up with the Midget team with Colton Point on occasion,” recalled Porter who started her love for goaltending as a nine-year-old watching Carey Price.
“I think opportunities like this pushed me to become a better goalie. I have always been competitive and being able to practice with great goalies like them has really helped me develop into the goalie I am today.
“I really believe everything of my journey has happened for a reason and I am very appreciative of everyone that has been a part of it.”
Porter credits local goalie coaches Todd Robillard and Dan Spence among others with helping with her development over the years.
She says taking on the challenge of playing NCAA Division 1 hockey has its ups and downs.
“Moving away from home was a challenge that hit me pretty hard my first year away from home,” explained Porter who first moved away from home as a 14-year-old when she played Midget in Markham.
“A new high school every year made it hard socially. Leaving what is familiar and going to a new team, new town and new school is difficult for anyone, but I strongly believe that all of the difficult parts of my journey are the reason why I am playing for the University of Maine.
“Moving through hockey was also a challenge, adjusting to the styles of play within different teams and league, new coaches and new players. Hockey has been my life and the training has been nonstop. There is a lot that you have to sacrifice and many disappointments on the way. At times, it was also hard to understand and carry out what needed to be done in order to move towards my goals. I have had some great people around me though that have helped me to get to this point which made the journey a lot easier.”
On the ice, Porter says she tries to use her size to her advantage.
“As a bigger goalie in the women’s hockey game I try to emphasize that by playing at the top of my crease and really taking away as much net as possible,” she said.
And surprising to some may be the fact Porter believes skating is another huge key to a goaltenders success.
“I also really love to skate, as a kid I even did the free Tim White power skating offered by the North Bay Girls Hockey Association at 7 am once a week, in my goalie gear, and I have found having that strong base in edge work has helped me become a better skater as a goalie,” she said.
“This helps me get in the right position in time for the puck.”
Overall Porter is happy with her progress and is even more thrilled about becoming an NCAA Division 1 athlete.
“It was a real high to win with our provincial team at nationals and the low point of my life to be sent home from Team Canada training camp. I have appreciated every part of my journey. I have had the opportunity to meet amazing people from the NCAA, within hockey, and now that I am at Maine, from all kinds of sports.”