January 14, 2014 10:40PM
By Leanne Cozart
WALLINGFORD — Sheehan varsity goaltender Carly Femniak started hockey playing with the boys and now, as a junior in high school, she’s still playing with the boys.
Not just that, she’s playing well.
Femniak has started every game between the pipes so far this season for the Titans and has contributed to their solid 4-2 record.
“I always wanted to play for Sheehan and I knew when I got to the high school level I wanted to play with the guys,” Femniak said after backstopping Saturday’s 6-2 win over Byram Hills, N.Y. “So it was kind of a goal of mine and I reached it.”
This young athlete is shining on two hockey fronts for the Titans in a position that she absolutely loves. She’s also goalie for the field hockey team. This fall, she was named All-SCC First Team.
If you ask Femniak what draws her to a position that (it’s long been held) requires a certain degree of madness and daring-do to play, she’ll tell you there’s something about getting hit all the time.
“It’s exhilarating, in a way, because you never know what’s going to happen. You always have to act on your instincts and it’s the adrenaline of the whole thing that is just amazing,” Femniak said. “It feels so great.”
Femniak, though, hasn’t always been a goaltender. In fact, it wasn’t until her father Pete mentioned to her that he used to play goalie that she switched over from playing wing.
“I heard that and said, ‘Oh whatever, I’ll give it a try’ and then I never went back,” she reports.
Femniak has been playing hockey since she was about 6-years old, when she started with the Wallingford Hawks youth organization.
“I started off with the boys because the Wallingford Hawks didn’t have a girls’ team,” Femniak elaborated. “The second they did get a (girls) team I switched over and played with them. Then, once I got to high school, I started playing with the boys.”
In her time as a Titan, Femniak has enjoyed the camaraderie on the team. The cohesiveness between the Titans on the ice is evident. They gel flawlessly in all phases of the game.
Going into high school playing on a boys team in never easy to do, however. Femniak has been able to pull it off thanks to her own ability and the ready acceptance of her teammates.
“It’s actually way better than I expected,” she said. “The guys are always behind me, supporting me whenever they can, and it’s been a real fun team to be a part of.”
Titans coach Dave Festa really likes the way Femniak has been performing this season.
“The team really comes together and really supports her and has a lot of confidence playing in front of her,” Festa said. “She does a great job and a lot of the kids are willing to sacrifice to block shots and play defensively with her.”
Femniak success at goaltender doesn’t come without hard work. In preparation for game day, she hits the rink, practicing her skating and building up her endurance.
“People don’t think that the goalie needs to skate, but it actually is really important,” she noted. “Really, you’re supposed to be the best skater out there.”
Along with skating, Carly participates in shooting drills to sharpen her stopping and redirecting skills. Her dedication in practice has paid off at game time. The Titans have allowed just 18 goals so far this season.
An early test came just before Christmas at Rumsey Hall in Game 2. Rebounding from a 3-2 loss to the Eastern CT Eagles in their season opener, the Titans routed Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug 9-2.
“It was kind of the first bigger game and it was an away game. I was nervous going in because I knew they were a good team, but I had the guys right behind me,” Femniak said. “They were popping in goals and I kept them out.”
Femniak’s passion for the game is evident and she doesn’t think twice when it comes to playing with the boys. As she says, she’s way over it.
“It’s never awkward with the guys because they all treat you like family,” she said. “It’s not like, “Oh that’s the girl and you have to treat her different.’ We make jokes about everything and can just laugh. We’re all together as a team and really close knit.”
The way the group played together in Saturday’s 6-2 victory against Byram Hills showed the Titans have got some great chemistry established at this point in the season.
Femniak and the fellas return to the ice tonight to host Housatonic-Northwestern-Wamogo at Choate at 7 p.m. The Litchfield County tri-op is a tough 7-1 team ranked No. 2 in Division III.
That one loss? It came back on Jan. 4 to Sheehan, 5-3. Femniak was the goaltender in net.