Lantz’s Kiara Keddy suits up as a Pen, realizing a life-long dream
DARTMOUTH: Kiara Keddy knew from the age of four that she wanted to be a East Hants Pro Cresting Penguin when she became age eligible to play with the Nova Scotia Female Midget Hockey League (NSFMHL) team.
While the team, the Bussey Auto Brokers Penguins, has changed home rinks to the RBC Centre in Dartmouth and major sponsors in the last couple of years, the team name remains the same making the achievement of the Hants East Rural High student donning a Pens jersey all that more special.
“I’ve been a Penguins fan right from the get go,” said Keddy, prior to a team practice on Sept. 17 at RBC Centre in Dartmouth. “I got my Pens jersey, my 1/2 one when I was seven. Ever since then it was that I was going to play for them and that 2019 was my year.”
However, the journey did take a hit when in 2017 the Pro Cresting Penguins folded, vacating the East Hants Sportsplex. They became the Bussey Auto Broker Penguins with a new home, the RBC Centre in Dartmouth.
“It was the only team I ever wanted to play for,” said Keddy, 15. “I didn’t care about any national team or anything. All I wanted to do was be number 22 on the Penguins.”
The Lantz product wears #22 in honour of one of her “girls” when she was watching the team play on the ice, MacKenzie Wright. Kiara was at one time a forward, but has switched to a left defenceman, just like Wright was.
“She’s my favourite player,” she said explaining why she chose the 22. “I wanted to be her. I wanted to be a defenceman like her, and I am.”
In an ironic twist, one of the alumni from the Pro Cresting Penguins early years when Keddy was the team’s “superfan” in the stands at the Sportsplex, Lauren Henman, is now an assistant coach with the Pens.
Keddy, who attended Ontario Hockey Academy for two years, did say there was doubt that her journey would come full circle.
“In 2015, they were going to shut down the Pens and become the Gladiators,” she said. “I didn’t think I would ever end up playing for the Penguins. 2019 felt like it was 75 years away at that time.
“If they had changed names, the feeling of playing for them wouldn’t be the same as it is that we’re the Penguins.
“Eleven years ago I said I was going to play for this team and eleven years later I am. I’m now one of the girls.”