Isla Okkinga started skating when she was 7-years old, got into ice hockey when she was 8. After two years as a defenseman, she convinced her parents to let her be a goaltender.
“I really wanted to,” Okkinga said. “They just saw danger. But when they saw all the equipment they said, “OK, go for it.”
Almost a decade later, Okkinga is approaching 50 wins as the starting goaltender for the Kent Place Dragons, including an 8-1 performance with a pair of shutouts this past January, turning aside 258 of the 270 shots she saw to the tune of a 1.33 goals-against average and .955 save percentage.
With the performance, Okkinga was a unanimous selection as The HockeyClan’s State Girls Player of the Month for January.
“Right the very start, Isla was a special player. Her physcial talent was conspicuous to everyone who saw her play and she immediately became a team leader,” Kent Place head coach Tim Maset said. “Since then, we have built our team system from her on out and she has become a key part in creating and shaping our team identity.”
Okkinga has stood tall for four seasons in between the pipes for the Dragons, amassing a 43-12-2 career-record with 12 shutouts, 1.85 goals-against average and .942 save percentage. The senior netminder was particularly stingy to begin the new year with back-to-back shutouts over Oak Knoll and Pingry as well as a 34-save performance in a victory over Trinity Hall on Jan. 26.
“She is a terrific teammate — relentlessly hardworking, mature, responsible, supportive and kind,” Maset said. “For these reasons she was named a team captain as a sophomore — the first time in my twenty years of coaching I have ever had an underclassman as a captain. But such was Isla’s impact on and off the ice. She has been the backbone of our program for four years. Isla will be attending Princeton University on a field hockey scholarship next year.”
Kent Place is 11-4-1 this season in the Morris-Union Girls Ice Hockey League. The Dragons defeated Westfield, 8-1, in the first round of the MUGIHL Tournament on Feb. 1 before edging Summit, 4-3, in the semifinals on Wednesday. Okkinga will be looking to guide Kent Place to the team title when they meet Chatham-Madison in the finale on Feb. 14 at 7pm at Union Sports Arena.
“I started playing for the St. Joseph Griffons Club in Missouri in 2008, moved to New Jersey in 2012 and started playing with the New Jersey Colonials for a few years before coming to K.P,” Okkinga said. “This team, being on this team is not like any other team I’ve been on. It’s just incredible to represent your school with the amazing people on this team. A great four years.
“It’s awesome to get this honor,” Okkinga said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates so I want to thank all of them for helping me get here.”
2017-18 HockeyClan Honors
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Kent Place goaltender Isla Okkinga was a unanimous choice as the Devils’ Girls Ice Hockey Player of the Month for January. (Tom Smith TSPSportsimages)
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