The Skylar’s the limit
by Andrew Podnieks|11 JAN 2019
Fifteen-year-old Skylar Vetter has played every minute of this year's WW18 for the U.S.
photo: Steve Kingsman / HHOF-IIHF Images
Rare are the times Team USA will use only one goalie throughout a tournament, and rarer still is that goalie 15 years old. But Skylar Vetter has proved herself mature beyond her years and skilled beyond her birth certificate, and here we are headed to the semi-finals and the only puckstopper U.S. coach Maura Crowell has used is the 15-year-old Vetter.
Vetter has played all 180 minutes so far, won three games, recorded a shutout, and seems certain to carry the team the rest of the way.
To get the obvious out of the way first, no, Skylar is not related to Jessie Vetter in any way. Skylar did, however, become a goalie pretty soon after discovering the game.
“I hated the skater equipment,” she said. “I have two older sisters who play hockey, so I just played with them. In U8, I put on the helmet and I hated how tight it was, hated wearing the neck guard. I never liked it. The second game I ever played, I was a goalie.”
And she never looked back. She didn’t dream of playing for USA Hockey at first—her desires were more short term, more direct—but it wasn’t long before she looked above and beyond her current station.
“When I first started to play boys’ hockey in Minnesota, there was always a more competitive edge to them,” she recalled. “I never thought anything like going to play for USA Hockey or anything. I just wanted to beat the guy in front of me. That’s where my competitiveness started. As soon as I learned I learned I could try out for 14s and 15s, I was all about it, always wanted to put on a USA jersey.”
Of course, playing against boys had its advantages for a teenage girl goalie hoping to improve. 
“It’s really nice to play with the guys because they usually shoot harder. Sometimes it’s a different release or look, so it’s nice getting used to top speed and it definitey helps when I come here. Even with the girls, they’re so talented. I play with 14- to 18-year-olds. It’s a high school, so it’s all over the board.”
What’s the scouting report on Vetter? She offers an honest assessment of her own.
“I’m pretty powerful, pushing off, my angles most of the time are pretty good, but sometimes I’m kind of go-go-go so fast. I want everything to be quick quick so I maybe won’t rotate and I’ll be off a little bit. I’ll push backwards, that kind of thing. I need to slow the play down in my mind, read the plays better.”
Clearly she talks the talk, and clearly she knows what’s good about her game and what needs work. She is a fan of Maddie Rooney, the Olympic gold-medal-winning goalie from PyeongChang. “She grew up in Minnesota playing high school boys hockey, so I kind of want to follow her path.”
And other targets she admires?
“In the NHL, I like Jonathan Quick. He’s so fast. He plays old school goalie, but everything he does is fast and powerful. It’s really fun watching him.”
For now, it’s really fun watching Vetter, who will likely play two games this weekend and be in the hunt for a medal. Not many 15-year-olds have been in that position at an IIHF U18 event.