By @MichaelCaples –
PLYMOUTH – Megan Keller said she grew up idolizing the Red Wings’ iconic No. 5.
A new generation of girls can now grow up idolizing her.
Keller is the lone Michigan native on the Women’s National Team roster. Starting tomorrow, she will get to compete in the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship not only on home soil, but 10 minutes away from her family’s home.
The Keller family will be in the stands when Team USA takes on Canada at 7:30 p.m., as will young female hockey players anxious to see the best women’s players in the world, a group of which Keller is firmly a part.
“It’s awesome to be able to carry that torch,” Keller told MiHockey, “and be a role model for younger girls in the area is something special. I always looked up to Nicklas Lidstrom, and to think now, that maybe younger girls can have a female role model is pretty inspiring to me and it’s exciting.”
It was a different experience for Keller than most of her teammates, as the Farmington native watched the boycott unfold while competing in the Frozen Four with her Boston College team. Keller, a junior defenseman for the Eagles, has a unique support system in Massachusetts, however; her longtime Honeybaked youth teammates Andie Anastos, Haley McLean and Tori Sullivan (albeit home injured) are all part of the Boston College women’s hockey program.
“It helped out a lot,” Keller said of having her longtime teammates close by for the duration of the boycott. “Those are some of my best friends, and to be able to go to college and continue my college hockey with them was special, and not many other players get to do that, if any. It’s pretty surreal.
“Honestly, the support that all of my teammates have shown was incredible, and I don’t think I heard one bad thing from anybody throughout the process. We all stuck strong, and we’re there for another.”
Up until Tuesday night, there was a growing possibility that Keller would miss out on playing at home. She was adamant, however, that she was with her teammates for whatever was necessary.
“Yeah, there was a little bit of mixed feelings in the beginning, but just to see how united everybody was and what we were doing – we were standing up for what’s right, and I would be behind my teammates no matter what.
“It was a little different when it was all happening at Frozen Four. Luckily I had a few of my teammates and old USA Hockey players who are our coaches who were there for us. Once things got going, and seeing what great leadership we had, and how united everybody was and the support we were getting, it made things so much easier. The cause we were going for, equality, it was what’s right, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
However, when asked how much relief she felt when the agreement was finally reached, a huge smile appeared.
“I’m really happy, especially any time you get to represent your country and wear the USA jersey, it’s an honor, and to be able to do it here in Michigan is even more special. Hopefully we’ll compete for a gold medal and bring it home and keep it here.”