It can be a lonesome experience between the pipes, but for University of Delaware senior Emily Becker, who leads all women’s Division 2 goalies in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) with an astonishing 0.45 goals against average, it’s all she’s known for as long as she can remember.
“I’ve been skating since I was three and playing goalie since I was six,” Becker recounts. “My dad was actually my roller hockey coach, and our goalie decided one game he didn’t want to play that game. So my dad had nobody else to put in the net, so at six he threw me in, and I was hooked. We won, like 18-10, and I thought I was great. I was six, and I thought it was fun because we won. I was hooked.”
In twelve appearances this season for the Blue Hens, who are the top-ranked team in the East Region with a 16-1-0 overall record, Becker has only allowed five goals while amassing a 10-1-0 individual record, pitching eight shutouts, and compiling a jaw-dropping .980 save percentage. Only one other netminder in ACHA women’s Division 2 competition boasts a goals against average under one: Megan Joseph Seeley of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. sports a 0.64 average in six games played this year.
Becker, while far and away the premier goalie in the division, is quick to defer credit to a host of supporters—both on and off the Fred Rust Arena ice.
“Well, you don’t have a good goals-against average without defence, so that’s the first thing,” Becker explains. “I know that I have people near the crease that I can count on, and just practice over the years. I also work with a really good goalie coach at home.”
The Bayside, N.Y. native, who will graduate Delaware with an education degree, plans on teaching mathematics, hopefully at the junior high level, but will be certified to instruct students from kindergarten to grade 12. But, as bittersweet as the upcoming stretch run is for the senior netminder, Becker won’t be giving up the game she loves.
“Hockey’s going to be the thing I miss most,” Becker admits. “My team, coaches, just the whole thing. I’ve played competitive hockey my whole life, so the fact that this is my last semester of it is something I try not to think about because it makes me sad. I’ll definitely stay on the ice. I’ll coach, still play. If there are any higher opportunities, I’ll try.
“I know there’s plenty of girls in other leagues—NCAA hockey and ACHA Division 1—who are after the same thing,” Becker says of a chance at furthering her career in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) or the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). “Just because I play Division 2 hockey doesn’t make a difference. It’s how hard you practice and how hard you play, I don’t think a title makes a difference.”
While Becker is hopeful she can elevate her hockey career to the next level, her eye is more immediately on the ACHA national championship, held in Columbus, Ohio next month.
“We want to win nationals; I think I can speak for everybody on the team in saying that,” Becker says. “I think we have the best shot we’ve had in a couple of years. We have a great group of players; we definitely have a shot. I’m really optimistic and really excited.
Their next stop on the way to the Buckeye State is a two-game set this weekend at home against the Liberty Flames, who are ranked second in the East Region with an 11-2-0 record. The teams split a weekend series in Lynchburg, Va. in October. Both games will air on Delaware Hockey Night Radio, with Saturday’s (Feb. 10) coverage to begin at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Sunday’s (Feb. 11) coverage slated for 3:15 p.m. Eastern. Listen live via this link.