Hard work and dedication have helped Olivia King reach her hockey goals.
This winter as a senior, she attained the milestone of playing goaltender for the Brainerd Warriors in the Class 2-A state championship game in St. Paul.
And this week, she will experience a long-time dream of signing a commitment to play Division I college hockey with the University of Minnesota Gophers women’s team.
“It has definitely been my dream since I was a kid,” King said of the opportunity to join the Gophers. “I’ve grown up watching (the Gophers), and they’re the biggest school in the state.”
King said a trip last week to the U of M campus in Minneapolis cemented her decision.
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- High School: Brainerd Warriors
- Next: Will sign a National Letter of Intent this week to play at University of Minnesota
- Sport: Women’s Hockey
- Position: Goalie
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“I visited with the (Gopher) coaches and I talked with some of the girls on the team,” King said. “I knew right away that is where I wanted to go. I obviously like the school and I know they have good people (in the program).”
The 18-year-old King grabbed the attention of many college scouts when she played admirably during the season, especially at the state hockey tournament where she made 51 saves in a 4-3 double-overtime loss to Edina in the championship game.
“It really helped when our team made it to state,” King said of the exposure of playing in the state spotlight. “I’m also thankful for my coaches (head coach Jim Ernster and goaltending coach Toby Kvalevog). They helped me through my career and I called them both after I made my (college) decision. Coach Kvalevog and I would get on the ice an hour-and-a-half before practice. I think having good people around me and pushing me really helped. I was also focused when I was on the ice.”
Ernster, who resigned as girls’ hockey coach after the season, credited King’s success to hard work.
“I’m so happy for Olivia,” he said. “She has worked hard on her craft, spending countless extra sessions with (Kvalevog). And to see it pay off is fantastic. Olivia will leave her mark on (the U of M) program. Her work ethic and character will make an already great women’s hockey program even better.”
Last season, the Gophers were 32-6-1 overall and made their 14th Frozen Four appearance. They captured their 10th regular season WCHA title and advanced to the NCAA title game where they lost 2-0 against Wisconsin.
The Gophers have two experienced goalies next season in senior Sydney Scobee (Breck High School), who won 10 games last year, and junior Alex Gulstene (Vancouver, B.C.), who won 20 games during the 2018-19 season. Besides King, one other freshman netminder for the Gophers is Makayla Pahl, who compiled a 4-8-3 record and a 2.56 goals-against average last season with Rochester Mayo.
“Hockey practices will start about the same time college classes begin,” King said. “I will also be doing a lot of (hockey camps) this summer.”
As a senior, King had a breakout year and helped the Warriors compile a 25-5-1 record and became the first northern Minnesota team to reach the Class 2-A state final since 2008. King had a 24-5-1 record with a 1.61 GAA and saved 92 percent of the shots she faced. King turned in an inspirational performance at state with 101 total saves in three games to make the all-tournament team.