In my second installment of the Green Mountain Gals, I sat down with forward Amanda Pelkey. Pelkey has a very impressive resume when it comes to her hockey career. She’s was part of the US team that won gold back in 2018 and an Isobel Cup Champion and a two-time NWHL All-Star. Oh ya, she’s also from Montpellier, Vermont.
The Green Mountain Way
Amanda found her love for the game at the age of three when she saw her brother on roller skates. Family has played a big role for Pelkey, not only on the ice, but off it as well. “They’ve been there for me every step of the way and it’s not just my immediate family. It’s my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles who have each made an impact on me. It may not be directory related to hockey, but they made an impact on who I am and helping me build my character,” said Pelkey. “It’s just as much their journey as it is mine,” she stated. Pelkey also mentions how the athlete comes second in her life.
It was her time with the Barre Blades that helped her become the player she is today. “Like Maggie, it was during her childhood and mine and it was an organization to grow up in,” said Pelkey. The Blades also helped Amanda gain that team-first mentality.
The 26-year-old forward spent most of her career playing in the Green Mountain State as she opted to play at UVM for college. “I think it was a great decision on my part to stay around the area for college because the support I got was endless and still is,” said Pelkey. In her four years at UVM, she scored 49 goals and 56 assists for 105 points in 127 games which included a program-record 21 goals and 40 assists during the 2013-14 season. She was also the first player in program history to put up 100 points.
“I think Vermont will always be a state and a community that with its support makes it easier to attempt to go where you want to go,” said Pelkey.
Getting A Taste Of Both Leagues
Pelkey joined the Boston Pride in its inaugural season and was the first American player to sign with an NWHL team. She spent three years with the Pride, putting up 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in 49 games. During those three years, she was named to the NWHL All-Star Game twice along with winning an Isobel Cup Championship in 2016. “To start something from the ground up is really difficult. What they’ve grown is absolutely huge and its made a lot of an impact on a lot of players and their careers,” stated Pelkey when talking about how far the NWHL has come in its first five seasons.
It was after the 2018 Olympic Games when Pelkey decided to join the PWHPA which was created by 200 players. Entering their second year, the PWHPA is expected to be a lot more structured than it was last year. “There was a lot that was up in the air and finding coaches and GM’s in just a few months of conversation,” said Pelkey when asked about the PWHPA’s inaugural season. However, she expects to see the competition get stronger this year with the new format.
With the PWHPA forming in 2018 this has now opened up two women’s professional hockey leagues for girls who are looking to continue playing the game after they graduate from college. When asked about how players are going to choose between the two leagues, Pelkey said, “It’s gonna come down to that specific player’s needs.” She mentions that it may take a few years, but the goal is to have a league that’s highly resourceful and professional. One of the key points she mentioned was more practice time seeing that both leagues only practice twice a week. “I think that it’s really important to only have one option and narrow down the pool of players to really make it a professional league,” said Pelkey.
Living The Dream
I don’t think it’s hard to figure out what Pelkey’s favorite moment of her career has been so far. “That’s easy, winning gold in the 2018 Olympic games, it would pretty hard to top that,” said Pelkey. When she originally made the team, Amanda said, “It’s was pretty surreal, it was a moment where you literally lose your breath. I had to take a few minutes alone to process it.” Since the 2018 Olympics, Pelkey has watched it over again once. “I think us players are more nervous watching it than we were playing it,” said Pelkey.
“That’s always a tough question. If it was up to me, I’d love to be a part of it again, but there comes a time when you have to look at new players and I was once one of those new players,” said Pelkey when asked about the 2022 Olympic Games.
Paving A Path To The Pros
In 2019, Pelkey started up AMP Hockey. “I’ve always wanted to do that, but obviously, I didn’t have time training for the Olympics and putting in the work up to tryouts, and time was limited then,” said Pelkey. She’s still waiting to hear if those camps will still be able to happen this summer. Last year, those two weeks of camp were some of her favourite times. “I think I had more fun than some of the girls,” said Pelkey.
Pelkey has also teamed up with former NHLer Rob Schremp on a company called 44 Vision Hockey. “He reached out to me with this idea of game video analysis breakdown and people are always looking into improving their game. Pelkey says it allows them to have someone breakdown their shifts and gives them someone like herself or anybody on that list as a personal coach to break down game film.
Looking to Come Full Circle
With COVID-19 closing hockey rinks, Pelkey has recently found it hard to get into a rhythm with off ice workouts. “I don’t remember the last time I was on the ice, but I’m just trying to find a rhythm right now,” said Pelkey. The Vermont native is planning on moving back home as she’s recently spent the last few years in Boston.