Baillee Goodon loves the State University of New York at Oswego. It’s hard to argue with her. When you decide to leave home to play college hockey, you’d better like your surroundings and for Goodon, a young Metis woman from Boissevain, it would be hard to find a better spot than this beautiful campus near the banks of Lake Ontario, about 90 minutes northeast of Rochester, N.Y.
“It’s amazing, I just love it,” said Goodon last week, as she prepared to start the ECAC Women’s Division III hockey season. “We’re located about 2 ½ hours northeast of Buffalo. It’s a beautiful campus and a great place to play. I really love it here.”
From a young woman who played two seasons with Team Manitoba at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, getting a college education and playing hockey at the same time is pretty much a dream come true. For Bailee Goodon, it’s about as much fun as hockey can get.
“It’s such a big hockey community here,” Goodon said. “The fans come out for both the men’s and women’s teams. We get great crowds and it’s a great place to play. It’s fun playing ion front of big crowds. Hockey is huge in this community.”
Goodon grew up in Boissevain, south of Brandon. Her dad put her on skates at age 2 and she took to the ice like a natural.
“My older brothers both played hockey so when I was about 4 ½ I started playing organized hockey, too,” she said. “I played with the guys until I was 12. That’s when hitting was coming in and I just wasn’t big enough. In fact, I was really small and those big guys would have killed me.”
She started her girls’ hockey career with the Killarney Stars and then graduated to the Westman Wildcats of the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League. In her senior year of high school, she left home to play for Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna, B.C.
“Pursuit of Excellence was great,” she said. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it really helped me to get a scholarship.”
Goodon played two years with Team Manitoba and wanted to play again this past season but because of a rules change she was disallowed.
“I enjoyed playing at the Nationals,” she said. “I met a lot of great people. It was really fun and it was a great competition.
“I played in 2011 and 2012 and even though I was still age eligible at 17, I was declared ineligible because I was playing college hockey in the NCAA. It’s too bad. I would have loved to have done it for a third year. Playing with players like Pam McLeod (now at the University of Wisconsin-Superior) was a great experience.”
Goodon is a Psychology major at Oswego and says she enjoys all of her classes. She’s one of four sophomores on this year’s Lakers team.
“Last year, we had one of the best seasons in the last eight years at Oswego,” said Goodon, who had two goals and three assists in 23 games as a freshman in 2012-13. “I really think this is our year. We have eight freshmen on this year’s team and some of them are really good. We also have one transfer and nine seniors. We have a lot of experience ad I think we have a really good chance to do well.
“The best thing about Oswego is that I’m just as happy with the academics as I am with the hockey. I’ve never wanted to miss a class since I came here and that’s saying a lot. I’m really fortunate. This is just a great place to play and a great place to go to school.”