Cullen and McDonough advance in Flyers Youth Hockey Shootout
By Steven Hoffman
Morgan Cullen and Annie McDonough, teammates on the Chester County Skating Club Cougars, advanced to the next round of the under-14 Flyers Youth Hockey Shootout with a win over the Lady Patriots at the Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 8. The competition took place between the second and third periods of the game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitols.
“I was really nervous before the game, but as soon as I stepped on the ice it went away and I was able to focus,” explained Cullen, a ninth-grader at Upland Country Day School. McDonough attends Unionville High School.
This is the first time that Cullen and McDonough have participated in the Flyers Youth Hockey Shootout. Each team is comprised of a goalie and an offensive player, and each team’s offensive player attempts to score on the other team’s goalie. As the starting goalie on the Chester County Cougars squad, Cullen found out in mid-November that she was going to represent the team in this year’s shootout. Several of her teammates competed to earn the spot as a shooter, with McDonough eventually earning the spot.
In the shootout against the Lady Patriots, neither team was able to put the puck in the net on the first three shots. With the game hanging in the balance on one final play, Cullen made the save to give her team the win.
“I was really excited. I was so happy,” Cullen said of the win.
Cullen said that on March 25 she and McDonough will next face the winner of a shootout between the Lady Crusaders and Lehigh Valley Phantoms. If Cullen and McDonough earn the win that evening, they will advance to the finals on April 11.
Cullen said that she was glad that she and McDonough were paired together because they started playing the sport together in second grade and know each other very well.
When she first started playing organized ice hockey, Cullen spent two years playing defense before transitioning to goalie in the fourth grade after the team’s goalie quit.
“I wanted to try it,” she said. “I really liked it right from the start.”
Cullen said that one reason that she is good in goal is her ability to control her emotions.
“I’m able to stay calm,” she explained. “I don’t psych myself out before a game. If I give up a bad goal, I can come back and make the next stop. I remember that I can save any goal that I want.”
As a goalie on both the school team and club team, Cullen said she really enjoys the challenge of playing in the net almost exclusively. Even so, she’ll occasionally do a skate around and play another position just for fun.
The strong showing by Cullen and McDonough in the Flyers Shootout continues a very good season. The Chester County Cougars squad has advanced to the district playoffs. The Upland girls’ team is undefeated thus far.
“On both teams, we just play well together. It’s a real team effort,” Cullen said.