By: Isabella Urbani, Sports Editor
Kayla Munro, SFU hockey goaltender, was born into an athletic family. Her parents were both hockey players, and her mother was even a goaltender. Growing up, her time was spent between rinks, where she learned to skate at an early age, and turf fields to see her older sister compete in softball matches.
As Munro told The Peak, her family was “always doing something.
“Girls don’t really grow up saying ‘oh, I am going to go to the NHL,’” Munro added, until Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL match. She stopped seven of nine shots in the first period of an exhibition matchup for the Tampa Bay Lightning in their inaugural season (1992–93).
In regards to Rheaume, who became a benchmark for women in hockey, Munro said she was inspired by her to “[be] the best athlete [she] can be.”
Munro first got a taste for the game when she started playing for the North Shore Avalanche in grade three. Like most goalies, she began as a defenseman, as minor league players are obligated to take turns playing goalie.
After playing for the Fraser Valley Rush and the Junior Women’s Pacific Steelers, Munro set her sights on transitioning to playing with men for the first time at SFU. But a dislocated shoulder — which required surgery — and the COVID-19 pandemic, put her aspirations on hold. Munro used this time to rehab her shoulder and attend goalie camps and clinics.
On September 25, 2021, Munro saw her first start in net in two years as she entered the game for the third period. By the end of the evening, she had made history, becoming the first female goaltender to play in the league. When asked about her return to play, Munro mentioned her appreciation to be on the ice, as practice doesn’t simulate the same game-type experience.
Standing at 5ft6, Munro mentioned playing big to cover more room in the net and adjusting to the speed and strength of the shots have taken some time to get used to.
She credits understanding that “the crease is only so big” as a turning point in her play. Goalie partners Cale Dolan and Michael Lenko have also been supportive, checking in on Munro’s studies and play.
Munro is not the only woman making history for SFU athletics. Her friend and former high school graduate, Kristie Elliot, made history by becoming the first Canadian woman to score in a college football game. Munro shared the two met up recently with friends and spoke about their successes.
“We are both really proud of each other,” Munro said, blown away by Elliot’s great feat.
When asked about how it feels to be in the spotlight, Munro expressed she is “very honoured and hasn’t thought about it too much.”
However, she shared a piece of advice for female hockey players: never be satisfied, have faith in yourself, and never stop working.
So what’s next for this history-making superstar? Munro confessed she’s playing it day-by-day. Her studies and her team are the priorities. But “having somebody look up to [her]” and goalie coaching is in the cards.