Phelan's Drive, Outlook Open D-I Door for Lady Duck at St. Lawrence, News (Anaheim Lady Ducks)

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Feb 19, 2024 | Admin | 242 views
Phelan's Drive, Outlook Open D-I Door for Lady Duck at St. Lawrence
By Chris Bayee, 02/19/24, 10:15AM PST


Sami Phelan doesn’t do things halfway.

Her enthusiasm for hockey has catapulted the goaltender from a grade school co-ed roller hockey team to travel hockey with the Anaheim Lady Ducks to an NCAA Division I commitment to St. Lawrence University.

“The want-to is there with Sami,” said LDs 19U AAA coach Lilli Marchant. “If you want to play D-I it’s important to be at every dryland training, practice and game. She’s been great this year. 

“She worked for this opportunity, she wanted it, and she got it.”


Phelan and St. Lawrence caught each other’s attention during the Lady Ducks’ annual college tour of the Northeast. 

“It was the third or fourth day and St. Lawrence was one of the last schools,” Phelan recalled. “I loved the school as soon as I stepped on the campus. I thought, ‘This is my dream school.’

“I emailed the coach (Chris Wells). He told me, ‘You’ve been on our radar.’ We set up a call and I took an unofficial visit with my family.”

From there, Wells saw Phelan play at a showcase. One call later and she was offered a spot beginning this fall. 


What’s interesting about Phelan’s hockey journey taking this turn is how unlikely it would have seemed eight years ago.  

“I went to a small school in Laguna Beach, St. Catherine’s, and they started a roller hockey team,” she said. “There weren’t enough players so three of us girls played, including Reagan Hannus who plays with me on the 19s now. The team needed a goalie so I did it. 

“I was horrible the first two years, but my coach saw something and told my mom, ‘You need to check out the Lady Ducks. She could be a good ice hockey goalie.’ I went to a clinic and that’s how it started on ice.”

Phelan jumped into the frozen pond at 12U AA. After two seasons it was on to 14U AA for a year and 16U AA for another. At age 15, she played on the 19U AAA team in 2021-22 before returning to her age group last season with the 16U AAA team. She’s back on the 19s this season. 

“There are so many people I have to thank,” Phelan said. “Stephanie Yates has been my goalie coach for eight years. She’s been very impactful on my life and is a role model. (Former LDs coach) Sara Beier was a big influence. Coach Vicky (Wang) took a chance on me at 12AA. Coach Caroline (Marchant) and Coach (Kristi) Kehoe and Lilli all are amazing. Every coach I’ve had with the LDs has helped me.”

She’s helped her team reach the Pacific District tournament at San Jose on Feb. 22-25. The 19Us are one of five LDs teams that advanced to one step from USA Hockey Nationals. 


Five Lady Ducks teams advanced to the Pacific District Championships on Feb. 22-25:

  • 19U AAA
  • 16U AAA
  • 14U AAA
  • 16U AA
  • 14U AA


Not only did Phelan start later on the ice than many high-end players, but she had to overcome a bit of a size disadvantage for her position. She stands just 5-foot-3 at a position with a template that adheres to taller is better. 

“She’s very naturally talented and definitely has the agility aspect down,” said Lilli Marchant, a former D-I player. “She plays aggressively and plays the puck well. She battles as if she’s 5-9. She’s not scared by any means.

“You have to showcase yourself in a different light when you’re shorter. You have to be willing to play bigger.”

Phelan’s skating, puck movement and stickhandling abilities give her added advantages. She’s quick to credit roller hockey, which still plays (she skates out), for helping develop those. 

Still, what really sets Phelan apart, Marchant says, is her approach.

“Sami’s a great kid and a good leader,” her coach says. “She’s super good at analyzing her game, which is fun with a goalie. She can pick out what went wrong in certain situations right away. I know I can be honest with her.

“She’s one of my go-to’s to pump up the girls. It’s fun to see with a goaltender. They see everything on the ice and maybe see it differently.

“Sami has been a pleasure to coach.”

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