Not just one of the guys

Leary named to Alaska Selects girls hockey team in December

Posted: Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Juneau-Douglas freshman hockey player Riley Leary got her first varsity action of the season Saturday night in front of her home crowd, but her accomplishments on the ice do not stop there.

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Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

Riley made the cut for the Alaska Selects girls hockey team in her age group and will be representing Alaska at the Pacific District Select tryouts.

"Since I made the first cut, I go to Washington in May to tryout for the second cut," she said. "It's tough because all the girls in the Pacific District will be trying out, but I'm going to try (to make the team)."

Leary grew up around hockey. Her father, Ian Leary, is a coach in the Juneau-Douglas Ice Association as well as a player in the Juneau Adult Hockey Association. Leary said the skating started early, before Treadwell Arena was built. She grew up, as many others did, skating on the lakes around Juneau whenever they were frozen.

"My dad put me in skates when I was three or four, then when the rink opened up here in Juneau he started coaching me," she said. "After that I just really enjoyed it and kept improving and working hard because I liked it so much."

When Treadwell Arena opened, Leary's hockey career officially began. She said that she appreciates it now more than when it opened because she was so young at the time.

Women's hockey has grown in popularity over the years and continues to do so, but Leary said she has embraced the challenge of playing alongside and against the boys.

"They have different advantages like being bigger and stronger than I'll probably ever be," she said. "You just have to work harder and you have to prove yourself more than the boys do to be able to play.

"It's a lot harder to be a girl and play hockey with boys than it would be to just play on a girls team, or to just be a boy and play."

While hockey is Leary's passion, she said she loves sports in general.

"I like doing a lot of outdoor things, but mostly just sports and things that keep you going and help me with hockey," she said.

When she's not playing hockey, she's watching it on TV.

"All the time," said Leary when asked if she watched professional hockey. "My favorite team is the Pittsburgh Penguins because my favorite player, Sidney Crosby is on the team."

As for what it felt like to watch the Penguins win the Stanley Cup, Leary said it was enjoyable.

"It was a fun time to watch and rub it in another people's faces that do not like that team. "

It took all season, but Leary finally experienced her favorite moment as a JDHS hockey player Saturday night against the Huskies, and it wasn't just getting to play.

Her favorite moment: Saturday night was the first and last high school hockey game that she will ever play with her senior cousin, Christopher Budbill.

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