Isabella Palumbo has grown up on the ice.
The daughter of a goalie, it only made sense for her to play between the pipes as well.
Palumbo, 15, has been skating for the past 11 years, the past eight as a goalie.
One of the goalies on Revelstoke Minor Hockey’s winning bantam team last year, Palumbo helped the team to the championship. She’s signed on for her second season with the team, now a midget team coached by Steve Bull.
“She’s been really good for the team,” said Bull. “You know what you’re going to get from her every game. It’s really steady.”
Last month, Palumbo was signed as an affiliate player with her hometown Junior B Golden Rockets.
“I think it’s good to give her the opportunity to push herself at a higher level,” said Bull.
Palumbo said there’s not much difference between her minor team and the Rockets. They’re fast and have a skilled shot.
“They’re way less intimidating than they look,” she said.
Palumbo has been attending about one practice a week with the Rockets.
“She’s real solid. We want local kids on this team,” Rockets coach Jason Stephens told Black Press. “Izzy fits all the right check boxes for what you want in an affiliate. My opinion is if she’s good enough to play, she can play.”
According to the president of the KIJHL, Palumbo is currently the only female in the league.
She’s used to playing boys’ hockey though and has for her entire career, minus a spring hockey club made up of just girls.
“Whenever you get to the rink, everybody always kind of stares at you because they expect a boy and especially as a goalie, they expect boys,” she said. “But everyone is super nice.”
On a particularly stormy evening, Palumbo shows up early to practice.
The father of one of her teammates has driven them into town from Golden. Palumbo slept most of the way, but the roads were treacherous.
Coming out of a team meeting, she walks alongside her male teammates, looking comfortable in the arena.
She’s wearing sneakers and a Revelstoke Minor hockey hoodie – typical uniform for the team.
We speak in the stands as another minor hockey practice takes place on the ice. A teammate takes a photo of her doing the interview.
Later, when she steps onto the ice wearing a black jersey, she’s joined by a dozen of her teammates and the coaching staff.
The whistle blows and everyone takes a knee.
They begin with a shooting drill. Palumbo steps up to the net.
“It’s kind of cool because girls as forwards – boys are just naturally stronger,” she said. “As a goalie, you can be just as good.”
The whistle blows again and the team skates a lap of the Forum.
“Move your feet!” a coach yells.
Soon, the team splits up. The defense and forwards work on a drill while the goalies work together.
Palumbo’s pink nails disappear into her goalie gloves, her long ponytail trails out the back of her helmet.
While Palumbo has started her journey towards Olympic hockey – a longterm goal of hers – this season is still very much about the midget team.
Their record this year is 17-9-2.
“Our goaltending has been very strong,” said Bull.
They’ll continue their season with another championship on the mind.