MINNEAPOLIS – Gophers sophomore forward Kippin Keller caught up with the voice of Gopher Women's Hockey Dan Hamann last weekend. Listen as Keller chats with Hamann about the team's start to the season, what it will take to continue improving, and finding the back of the net.
Listen to Kippin Keller's pregame interview with Dan Hamann.
Dan Hamann: Kippen, first of all, off to a 5-4-1 start, I’m sure it's not really where this team wants to be, but we knew there would be a lot of growing pains and this team has a big growing curve. Where do you think this team is at right now as far as that learning curve?
Kippen Keller: I think it’s definitely a hard transition going from all these Olympic players, all of a sudden they’re gone and our team is a lot more balanced, we have a solid three lines and I think all the lines are pretty equal, but with that, we've had kind of a rough start. I think we’re all getting together and doing well, and hopefully it keeps growing. I think we are growing as a team and bonding a lot.
DH: All four losses have been only by one goal, so it’s not like the team’s getting blown out or whatever the case may be. Is it frustrating when you look back on those games, those one-goal games, especially against a team like Wisconsin, where both those games were winnable games, in my opinion and maybe yours as well.
KK: Yeah, It’s frustrating because no one on our team likes to lose. We’re all very competitive. I think it shows we can compete with them, we did have a short team that game, we had three players out and a short team as it is, so we had four defense and we were all pretty tired but showed that we all can battle. We all played with heart and we really wanted to win. I think in the big games, it shows that we can really play with heart and want to win.
DH: Your personal play this year, in my opinion I think you’re one of the grittier players on the team. How do you see yourself on the ice when you’re out there? Are you a gritty player? A finesse player? How do you see yourself?
KK: I would definitely say gritty, I like to get after it; that’s just something I can control. I go out thinking, 'I might makes mistakes, but I can always control my effort,' so when I look at it I just say I just work my hardest because that’s something you can control. You can't always control your mistakes.
DH: Frosty, last week, was talking about winning the battles and really, a lot of times, the battles weren’t won, unfortunately for you, and as a result, a loss, but I think the good thing is, if people watch you play, you’re winning those battles and you’re providing one of those sparks. Where did that grittiness come from? Where did that originate?
KK: Growing up, my dad’s a big athlete, he was a really good football player. He grew up in Pittsburgh so he’s kind of gritty and tough, but he always taught me, maybe I’m not always the best player on the ice, but he always told me to work hard and that will get me a long way. He’s worked hard all his life; he came from nothing and made a big part of himself. He’s really taught me that I can always work hard and control my effort. He didn’t get mad if I wasn’t playing bad, but he would get mad if I had a bad attitude or wasn’t putting any effort into it, so he likes when I play with heart.
DH: What was that like as a kid then? Did you take it to heart right away? I know some kids would be resentful in that way if your parents get down on you for not working hard enough, and I think that’s something that’s really lost in a lot of youth these days.
KK: I definitely played for fun. I loved hockey. I played boys hockey, so one of the things for me is I was always looked at as a good backchecker and forechecker in boys hockey because they’re all so fast and good. I would always make the A or B team just because of my effort and also I guess some skill and speed. Growing up, I do think it was awesome that my dad was tough on me, not just to be super good but to have a good attitude and a good effort, because I think that’s brought me a long way.
DH: The effort showed on the goal that you set up in the first game [against Wisconsin] when Lindsay Agnew tied the game at 1-1, it was really you that set up that play. Talk about what it was that you saw going after that puck, because first of all, you had to beat the defenseman to the dot to negate the icing, then you had to win the puck, then you had to win a battle to get to the front of the net. So, what did you see going in there and what were you thinking?
KK: I never really know what I’m thinking, I usually just play, but first I was thinking to catch that pass and get a breakaway. Since it was a little off, it already showed that I had the defense beat, so I just beat them to the puck and then controlled it and tried to do a wrap-around. Good thing the rebound came out, and she was in the right position at the right time. I’m glad she buried it, and I’m glad she got that goal.
DH: Almost as satisfying, if not more satisfying, that Lindsay got that goal, you got the assist and that’s got to be satisfying because you were the one that really made it happen.
KK: I’m glad she got it because she hadn’t scored yet, so I’m glad her first goal was against Wisconsin. I think that pumped her up a lot and it pumped me up. It was really fun.
DH: You scored the first goal of the season for this team too, that had to be a confidence booster I think, wasn’t it?
KK: Yeah, it definitely was and I know I’ll get more. I’ve got my chances, so I’m not worried. It definitely was fun and a confidence booster to get my first goal right off the bat.
DH: Where do you see this team going this year and what will it take for this team to get to a higher level? This team has been playing some tough opponents, Ohio State and Wisconsin, two of the top four teams in the country. What is it going to take and where do you see this team landing?
KK: It's definitely going to take a lot of effort in practice and off the ice and everyone taking care of themselves because our team is so small. We need healthy bodies and healthy people. It’s definitely hard, but I think if we take care of ourselves, we’ll be OK. I definitely see us going far if we keep working hard, keep playing with heart, and keep playing for the game we love and not because we have to. I think we're starting to learn that, and I think our team is bonding a lot. I think by the end of the season, we know we’re not too far and we know we can get there.
DH: Finally, a question that’s kind of off-the-cuff and kind of out of left field, but the name Kippin. It’s kind of unique. I’ve never heard it before, so what’s the origin of your name?
KK: My dad’s whole family is all 'K' names and so his family is Kristy, Kurt, Kreg, Kip and Kasey, and then all his siblings named all their kids 'K' names. My name didn’t come from anything too cool, it was my mom’s good friend named Kippin. So my family is Kassidy, Kenzie, Koda, and Kippen and all my cousins are 'K' names, too, and so it’s just a tradition we have. I get that a lot. It’s actually a name in Scotland, I think it’s a street name or something, and we are Scottish, but it’s a pretty cool tradition.
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