Even as Providence Friars' women's hockey head coach Matt Kelly signalled starting goaltender Sandra Abstreiter to the bench, his team trailing the Northeastern Huskies 5-0 late in the third period last Sunday, there was no guarantee that Sudbury native Mireille Kingsley would be making her first NCAA game appearance.
The U.S. collegiate ranks remain one of the very few leagues where teams continue to dress three goaltenders for each game. And with a sophomore down at the other end of the bench, the odds for Kingsley were 50/50 at best.
"I wasn't really thinking about that, but more just trying to cheer my team up, just because it was such an unfortunate situation for my team," said the long-time member of the Sudbury Lady Wolves on Thursday.
"But I was definitely ready to go when the coach put me in."
Indeed she was.
Yes, it was only 6:35 of playing time. And yes, she would face but five shots, stopping all of them. But the memory of her debut is sure to be engrained in the memory of 18 year-old puckstopper for quite some time.
"My team was very supportive," said Kingsley. "After every save, someone would come and tap me on the pads. They were super helpful. I was pretty excited, considering what was happening with the team - but I was excited to get playing time."
A senior out of Freising (Germany), Abstreiter had suited up in each and every one of the 354 minutes of hockey that the 3-3 Friars had played in Hockey East regular season action to date in 2020-2021.
"It's not the best feeling sitting on the bench, but I know that it pushes me to work harder," Kingsley conceded. The standout from the 2019 Esso Cup silver medal winning Sudbury squad was well aware of the competition as she left for Rhode Island last fall.
Abstreiter played in 21 games last year for Providence, posted a 1.74 goals against average and a save percentage of 92.9%.
"I try and focus on just working hard and competing against my goalie partners," said Kingsley. "We're friends, but we know that me competing with them makes them better - and them competing with me makes me better."
Certainly, this brief appearance gives Kingsley something to build from. Despite the score, she was put to the test.
"Northeastern was still going hard, and my team kept fighting," she said. "I knew that I had to step up, considering how good of a team that Northeastern is. There were a few unexpected shots, an almost breakaway and a two on one as well."
"I definitely had to be ready for those."
Like so many other first year varsity athletes, Mireille Kingsley had to be ready. You simply don't know when that next chance to shine will come - so you had better make the most of it.
That she did.