Goaltender Taya Currie made history as the first female drafted by an OHL team. Photo courtesy Michele Currie

First female OHL draft pick rooted in faith

  • June 20, 2021

It’s been quite an extraordinary couple weeks for 16-year-old goaltender Taya Currie.

Glass-ceiling-shattering history was made on June 5 when the Sarnia Sting announced the netminder of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs U16 AAA squad as its 14th round pick (267th overall) of the 2021 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection draft.

Never before had a female been drafted in the 41-year history of the major junior hockey league.

“As soon as my name came up on the television, my family started yelling and hugging me,” said Currie, a product of Parkhill, Ont., who attends Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in Strathroy, Ont.

“Then the GM of the Sarnia Sting (Dylan Seca) called me. It all happened so fast. I didn’t really have any time to process it because my phone started going off nonstop. I’m honoured to be chosen by the Sarnia Sting.”

Along with fielding numerous interview requests, this breakout moment was made special by famous female and male hockey players, social media of professional hockey teams and a host of other prominent individuals offering kudos to Currie for her achievement.

Two of the most meaningful tributes came courtesy of fellow history-making goalies Manon Rhéaume and Shannon Szabados, both who tended net for world champion Canadian women’s teams (Szabados won Olympic gold as well, Rheaume silver) as well as competing in men’s professional leagues. Rheaume — who tweeted “congrats Taya!” — was the first goaltender to play in the NHL when she suited up for pre-season action for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992, as well as several minor pro leagues. Szabados watched the announcement live and tweeted “can’t wait to watch you on the world stage one day.”

It was Currie’s athleticism that caught the eye of OHL scouts. Currie herself says the two best facets to her game are “my flexibility and side-to-side speed.” Those technical strengths and other intangibles have enabled her to become a top goaltender in the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario.

Jeff Roy, Currie’s coach with Elgin-Middlesex, marvels at her drive to win.

“It’s her compete level for me. She never gives up on a puck in practice and in a game. She also is a very coachable player,” said Roy. “She takes what we tell her and applies it in a game. (I love) watching her compete every single time she is on the ice and she does it with a smile on her face. She doesn’t give in and will push back if needed.”

Some of her strong personality traits perhaps were nurtured by her Catholic background. When asked about how her faith guides her, Currie offered, “I try to be honest, loyal and kind, all teachings of the Catholic faith.”

Currie (5-foot-7, 143 pounds), who has been thwarting snipers since she was four years old, said it “was never my plan to think (I’d) maybe be the first female drafted to the OHL.” She considered her past season as “just a continuation of playing with the same team.”

She’s made no decisions about 2021-22, but she does hope Sarnia factors into her future. NCAA college hockey could also be an enticing route.

Roy says an NCAA team with Currie between the pipes “can contend for a national championship,” and he could also envision her competing for an Olympic gold medal.

While she will have to grapple with those decisions in the weeks to come, Currie can take pride that her prowess at denying goal celebrations for opposing skaters is opening up plenty of doors for her.

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