Blanka Škodová is comfortable having pucks launched at her on a daily basis.
What would make most cringe, excites the Czech Republic native, and it has ever since she took a liking to hockey goalies at age six.
“I was watching a hockey game and I was just staring at the TV and I was like, ‘Mom, I love the goalie’s gear, can I just try it?'” remembered Blanka.
“And she was like, ‘Dear god, please no, don’t even start.’ And I said, ‘Mom, please!’ So I made her drive me to a rink and that’s where it started.”
Škodová now has some cool gear of her own as the starting goalie for the UVM women’s hockey team.
Her helmet is half green and half white, split down the middle by a yellow line. She added her own flare to the back, which features a heart with the Czech Republic flag inside it. Below that are a sheep and a unicorn-looking creature.
Blanka has made Vermont her second home. She moved to the Green Mountain State when Vermont Academy recruited her three years ago.
At the academy, she won the 2018 Great Lakes Championship and posted a .948 save percentage with 620 saves.
That prompted some attention from the UVM women’s hockey program, but not until May of her senior year, a time when most recruits and incoming classes are already set in stone.
Head coach Jim Plumer said that the team’s primary goalie left the program that spring, so the coaching staff was on the market for a third goalie.
Blanka visited UVM and took an immediate liking to the university and the program. The feeling was mutual, so Vermont offered Škodová a spot on the team.
Since then, the 5-foot-9 sophomore net-minder has battled for her right to be the starter, and she’s earned it.
“She’s a very calm person and she brings a calming presence to the net,” Plumer explained. “She’s not frantic. She really projects a feeling of being in control.”
Those same characteristics prompted an offer to play for the Czech Republic in the InLine Hockey World Championships; that’s a roller hockey tournament.
Blanka was initially intimidated because she had little to no experience playing on roller skates, but she gave it a try, and wound up being the starting goalie and leading her team to win a silver medal.
“It was so different, you know, the movements, it’s so much different from ice hockey because you can’t slide, the only thing you can do is butterfly,” Škodová said.
“But I got used to it and then I decided to come to Worlds. I didn’t expect that much for me, but it turned out to be a great championship.”
Blanka and the Catamounts are back in action Friday, November 8 when they head to Durham, N.H. for a pair of games against UNH.