Johnson juggling nursing studies, play-by-play passion as she solidifies backup goalie role

Lindsey Johnson worked hard over the summer to solidify her position as the backup goalie on the Griffins and is now pushing for more starts (Derek Harback photo).
Lindsey Johnson worked hard over the summer to solidify her position as the backup goalie on the Griffins and is now pushing for more starts (Derek Harback photo).

Jason Hills 
For MacEwan Athletics 
EDMONTON – The first time Lindsey Johnson went between the pipes to play goalie; she can't even remember how many goals she let in. 

Keep in mind, she was just seven years old, and was playing on one of those minor hockey teams where every kid had to take a turn playing in net. 

But despite her struggles, it didn't deter her – it just motivated her even more. 

"It felt like I let in 1,000 goals, and I think everybody watching that day felt like this girl will never play in goal again," said Johnson, who is in her second season with the MacEwan Griffins. 

"I remember hearing a conversation my dad had with one of the other hockey dads, and he told my dad 'At least you won't have to spend any money on hockey equipment'. But I remember telling my parents right after, this is what I want to do. 
"Just seeing how much I struggled that day, didn't bother me. I loved the position and wanted to push myself to get better at it." 

Johnson and the Griffins (2-12-0) will look to get back in the win column when they battle the Regina Cougars (4-9-1) on Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (4 p.m., both Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV). 


In three starts this season, Johnson is 0-3 with a 4.34 GAA and an .870 SV%. 

Johnson has held her own against some of the country's top teams, having faced the likes of the UBC Thunderbirds, Alberta Pandas, and the defending national champion Mount Royal Cougars, boasting a combined 33-5 record in Canada West play this season. 


"I feel pretty fortunate to get to play against those high-level teams, who are some of the best (programs) in all of U SPORTS," said Johnson, who is still aiming for her first-career win. 

"I think I'm doing all the right things. I'm doing everything I can to be set up for success. I know there will be a time where I have a great game, and the team in front of me will have a great game and I'll get my first win." 

While Johnson works diligently on the ice to improve her game, off the ice, she's in MacEwan's nursing program. 

The life of a student-athlete can be demanding, but taking on a program with a workload as heavy as the nursing program is quite a feat for Johnson, and she's handling her responsibilities on and off the ice, quite well. 

"It's still a work in progress, but it comes down to time management and support. WIth so many labs and lecture classes, it's about using your time effectively," said Johnson. 

Currently in her second year of the program, Johnson even got to work on the front lines in her second semester last year. She will once again work inside the hospital as part of her clinical this coming semester where she will spend 24 hours a week working at the hospital. 

"It was rough, with being on my feet all day. I would walk around 10 km a day and go to practice and work out afterwards," said Johnson. 

"But the experience really puts things into perspective. I'd work with a lot of people who were sick, and you realize how fortunate you are to be a student-athlete who gets to play a sport they love and has a functioning body to be able to be active and live a healthy life." 

When Johnson graduates, she may look into working as an ER nurse, or she may specialize in working in community health, helping underprivileged people receive proper health care. 

Lindsey Johnson jumps on a loose puck in a scramble in front of her net against Mount Royal last Saturday (Derek Harback photo).

While Johnson has solidified her role as Sank's tandem partner in goal this season, she got to experience a different type of work environment last season when she was in and out of the Griffins lineup. 

Let's just say if her nursing career doesn't pan out, or she wants to pursue a different career path in the future, Johnson could do very well as a play-by-play or colour analyst. 

Last year, she volunteered on the Griffins' hockey broadcasts and with absolutely no experience doing broadcasting, and seemed like a natural on the airwaves. 

In all, she did play-by-play or colour for one of the men's hockey games, and six of her own team's games. 

"Some of my fondest memories in my first year came from doing the broadcasts," said Johnson. "I was so scared I was going to make a big mistake or pronounce one of my teammates' names wrong. It was nerve-racking, but so much fun. I

"I think I liked doing play-by-play better. It's definitely a skill. I can totally see how people need to get a degree and take years to master the skill of broadcasting. 

"I think everyone who isn't playing should get a chance to be part of the broadcast. You learn a lot. You get to see the game from a different perspective. I caught myself seeing different systems that we work on in practice and how they work. You see so many things that are talked about and worked on in practice."