Taylor Thompson excited for freshman season after opportunity
Attending the 2022 MN Hockey High Performance Development Camp back in June would be the highlight of the summer for many hockey players, but it wasn’t for Forest Lake incoming freshman goalie Taylor Thompson.
Thompson not only attended that, but she advanced to the 2022 USA Hockey National Development Camp that took place Saturday, July 9 through Thursday, July 14 at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Thompson was one of five goalies in Minnesota and among only 24 goalies in the nation in her age group to attend the national camp. In three games at the Minnesota development camp, she held a 1.33 goals-against-average and .941 save percentage, which was good enough for an invitation to the prestigious USA camp that brings the best talent from across the country.
And there’s no better way to improve than to face some of the best players in her age group, which Thompson said was a great experience.
“It was a dream come true to be able to wear a jersey that said USA on it,” Thompson said. “It was pretty awesome.”
It also of course helped with her development. Thompson spent three days at the goalie-only camp that focused on goalie training prior to the Girls 15 camp.
“It was really good for development. ...Everybody there is so talented, and there’s no players that are, like, easy to save from a goaltender’s point of view,” Thompson said. “Like, every save you have to work for, and there’s only good coaches to train with.”
Since there were 24 goalies, including her at the camp, Thompson said the group became really close by the end of it. Thompson finished the national camp with one shutout, a .80 GAA (fourth best), and she saved 13 of 15 shots that she faced during the four games.
As for the upcoming hockey season, Thompson is “super excited,” and said it’s pretty surreal because she doubted this day would ever come.
“When I was little I always remember going to the games and going and giving high-fives to the older girls and thinking, ‘Oh, I’m never going to be out on that ice,’” Thompson said. “Now this year I get to be the one getting the high-fives from the little kids and smile watching us play.”
Thompson’s success is a highlight for the Forest Lake hockey program, too.
“It’s obviously very exciting, especially in a position like goaltender. [It’s] definitely one of the key positions, so to be able to have someone that’s that highly touted and that talented, just that good of a kid coming in, is definitely exciting,” Forest Lake hockey coach Andy Richardson said.
It’s one thing to have such a highly regarded player in the program, but Thompson’s success at such a young age means she has four full years ahead of her — something Richardson said is less common now than it was 10 years ago.
Richardson added Thompson’s athleticism, attitude of always trying to improve, and her strength in the crease are just a few things that stick out about her game when he has watched her over the past several years and during training this summer.
“If she gets scored on or if something like that happens, she knows what she did wrong, and she works to fix it right away,” Richardson said. “So she’s a really good student of the game, too.”
Even though there is a lot of hype surrounding Thompson, she won’t necessarily be the starting goalie right away, even though Richardson said she is ready for varsity hockey. Forest Lake has depth at the position with seniors Adria Haley and Megan Graetz as well as sophomore Jayden Laskow.
Thompson is excited for the competition and knows she will have to earn the starting job.
“Obviously being one of the younger goalies on the team, I don’t always expect to be the number one goalie on the team,” Thompson said. “But I want to earn the spot if I can.”