The life of a goalie is never easy, right? Always having to prove yourself, time and time again. You win a game? Win the next one. You made a save? Make the next one. This off-season Brooke Wolejko had to prove herself again to earn a spot with the Metropolitan Riveters after two seasons with the Connecticut Whale.
“I enjoyed being on the Whale - my hometown team - no hard feelings there,” said the 25-year-old netminder from South Windsor, Connecticut. “But this is a new, exciting opportunity for me. The girls here have been super welcoming and I’m having a lot of fun here.”
After beating the Riveters twice as a rookie in Season 5 - which stopped a year-long losing streak for the Whale, and finishing top-four in save percentage (.919%) in the NWHL, Wolejko only suited up for one game in whatever we want to call Lake Placid as Connecticut shifted toward playing Abbie Ives more often in goal. A little bit surprising after the hometown kid won the franchise’s first playoff game in four years (a 28-save, 5-3 triumph over the Buffalo Beauts on March 6, 2020) less than a year before they shifted away from no. 1.
So now Wolejko finds herself on a new team with a familiar face - Sonjia Shelly, her goaltending partner from two seasons ago with the Whale. No issue there, as the two goalies are good friends. “I think we both understand that there is only one net and it doesn’t matter who’s in at the time, we’re a team. We know we’ll do anything for each other and our teammates.”
The night before she started her first game with the Rivs (a 29-save, 5-3 win over the Beauts) - we were able to catch up with the Brooke Wall for five questions in five minutes, and here’s how it went.
The Ice Garden: What was opening weekend like for you with your new team playing against your former team?
Brooke Wolejko: They do have a pretty new team, the roster is a little different this year but it was great seeing my former teammates and briefly playing against them. Definitely, a little weird being on the other end, and I only got a couple of shots vs them at the end of our second game. But it’s nice because you know where they like to shoot, and that sort of thing. I can give some insights to my new teammates on my former ones. The hockey world is small and even smaller in WoHo, so we’re all used to playing against one another.
TIG: Who are some of your favorite goalies?
BW: Jessie Vetter comes to mind, I looked up to her growing up. I’d also say Marc-Andre Fleury; those two are my favorite goalies. I like how Fleury just has so much fun, brings a lot of heart, and keeps everything light. I’d say that I channel my inner-Fleury in that sense.
TIG: So when you’re home do you watch a lot of NHL games and focus on the goalies?
BW: Yeah, when I’m watching games I’m watching mostly the goalies. I feel like the other players just watch the skaters, too. Carey Price is a close second to Fleury for me, as far as who I enjoy watching. I like Price’s style - he’s very technical, which I think is similar to my style. But I enjoy how Fleury can be super aggressive, which is fun to watch and it pays off sometimes. When I think of Fleury I think of him coming out and doing that sweeping dive to stop a shooter — which is something I would never do! A little too risky in a game for my style, maybe I’ll try in practice or something. I love when he pulls that off though.
TIG: Any significance to you wearing the no. 1?
BW: It’s been my number since day one. No significance or anything like that, just something I’ve worn at every level.
TIG: You just debuted a gorgeous, brand new mask, what can you tell us about it and the process of designing it?
BW: Doug aka Weasel Head, the artist, was able to turn around our masks and get them back to us in less than two weeks. A very quick process, which we needed with the season already underway. He did an absolutely fantastic job on both of our masks and Sonjia and I are both over the moon about how well he did. We had a few emails back and forth so he could get a sense of our visions and - he drew it all by hand. He did so good, so impressive; I could barely draw a stick figure.
I knew I wanted to have Rosie’s bandana over the top of the mask, I wanted to incorporate the rivets on the sides, and I definitely wanted the quote on the back.
‘When you have fun, it changes all the pressure into pleasure.’
The quote is from Mind Gem, which I like to read before games. The chapters are really short, so I pick a chapter and read a few pages which helps me mentally prep before a game. I always need to remind myself to have fun, live in the moment. I know it's just a game, BUT IT’S NOT JUST A GAME! It all just came together so well, I couldn’t be happier about it, (laughs) I just want to bring to with me everywhere!