By MONICA D'IPPOLITO
---- — At five years old, Kelley Steadman attended a skate clinic held at the Plattsburgh State Field House, where she first learned how to skate. Seventeen years later, the Plattsburgh native is now skating among the best women’s hockey players in the world.
“When I was little, I dreamed of making the national team,” Steadman said. “I think when I got to college is when I thought it could become more of a reality. It’s a great honor.”
At 22 years-old, the former Mercyhurst College Laker is trying to help Team USA bring home the gold in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Women’s Championships, held this year in Ottawa.
“I just want to do anything I can to have my team get to the gold,” Steadman said. “Playing for your country is so much bigger than yourself.”
From a young age, Steadman played youth hockey for the Plattsburgh Road Runners and the North Country Cougars. She attended Northwood School in Lake Placid before being recruited by the Lakers.
During her four years at Mercyhurst, Steadman appeared in 140 games and accumulated 78 goals and 54 assists to total 132 points.
She helped the Lakers to two NCAA Frozen Four appearances, including the first in the school’s history her freshman year, along with four NCAA quarterfinal appearances, three College Hockey America Tournament championships and four regular-season titles. In 2012, Steadman was named to the All-College Hockey America First Team and also CHA Player of the Year her senior season.
After a decorated career for the Lakers, the forward was drafted by the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s Boston Blades.
Steadman is considered one of the best up-and-coming women’s hockey players. In 2008 she made the Under-18 USA World Championship Team and 2011 was her first year named to the women’s national team.
She recently helped the Blades win their first Clarkson Cup as she recorded a hat trick and the game-winner in the 5-2 victory over two-time defending champion Montreal Stars.
Seven of Steadman’s CWHL Champion Boston Blades teammates are joining her on the USA roster, which is made up of 23 players, including three goalies, seven defensemen, and 13 forwards.
“We’re so used to playing with each other and that’s great; I think that’s huge for us,” Steadman said about the continuity with her Blades teammates. “We also play against women on the Canadian National Team, so we know how each other play.”
The United States has won four gold medals and 10 silvers in the 14 previous IIHF Women’s World Championships. Team USA has won four of the last six world championships, its last coming in 2011.
Last April, Team USA lost to Canada in the gold medal game, which was held in Burlington, Vt. No doubt, Canada will be on Team USA’s radar, but Steadman is refusing to overlook any team.
“Canada is our biggest rival, but the other countries have great teams, too. We don’t overlook any team; they’re all talented,” Steadman said. “We just focus on the opponent that night, and that’s who we get ready for.”
For Steadman, making this year’s national team only adds to her decorated résumé, and there are just two more personal goals she still wants to accomplish.
“The biggest goal right now is to win the gold medal in the World Championship,” Steadman said. “My only other goal is to make the Olympic team. Hopefully if I continue to work hard, I’ll have the opportunity to get there.”