Anchoring the defense: Molly Potter and her role with ASU women's hockey

Molly Potter has been a key contributor to the ASU women's hockey team in her sophomore season

Bakersfield, California only has one public ice rink. While many people might not own ice skates in the area, the ASU women’s hockey team was able to find a hidden gem from the city.

Molly Potter is a sophomore defenseman on the ASU women’s hockey team. Potter is originally from Woodbury, Minnesota, where she grew up playing hockey.

However, during Potter’s senior year of high school, her father received a promotion at his job, and her entire family moved from Minnesota to the heart of the San Joaquin Valley in California.

“I think the biggest thing I was upset about was not being able to play hockey my senior year (of high school),” Potter said. “I was elected captain of my high school team, and then I had to leave … it was kind of tough starting senior year at a new school.”

Upon arrival in Bakersfield, Potter went from playing hockey nearly everyday on her varsity team to being limited to playing one day a week in a Sunday beer league. Potter even sat out for a year from the sport that she grew up playing.

“In Minnesota, I was on the high school team, so it was everyday of the week except for Sunday,” Potter said. “For a year, I didn’t play because I didn’t know they had a beer league, so going from five days a week to nothing was really tough.”

While applying to colleges in California, Potter faced a dilemma that many hockey players come to face on the west coast – a lack of opportunities to play college hockey in the state.

However, with the help of her father, Potter was able to find the right school in Tempe that just so happened to be developing in its inaugural season.

“I applied to a couple of California schools and I was kind of bummed that they didn’t have any hockey teams out there, but my dad did a ton of research and found that ASU was starting a women’s hockey program,” Potter said. “I was really excited and I applied there right away, and when I found out I got accepted, I went out to the recruiting camp.”

On Aug. 7, 2016, Potter was added to the list of up-and-coming commitments to the program, and the rest was history.

Now in her sophomore season, Potter has solidified herself as an anchor on the Sun Devil blue line, and someone who constantly seems to be in the right position on the ice.

“Molly is great back there, and we can always rely on her to do the right thing,” ASU assistant coach Katie McGovern said. “She is always working hard, and we know we can count on her.”

While Potter has a quiet demeanor, her presence on the ice speaks volumes with a small roster that only features three natural defenseman.

With the limited number of players, ASU has resorted to using forwards in the defensive end, and Potter and her counterparts on defense have worked alongside a variety of defense pairs.

Regardless of who Potter has worked with, she has continued her consistent play, and it has not gone unnoticed by her coaches and teammates.

“She is a great D (defense) partner, especially when you don’t play defense often because she will cover your butt if you need it,” ASU sophomore forward Alyssa Ayers said earlier this season. 

Although Potter has yet to tally a point this year, her presence on the ice as a strong, defensive force in front of sophomore goaltender Jordan Nash-Boulden has not gone overlooked.

“I think Molly is one of the most underrated players on our team just because she doesn’t have, per se, all of the things on the stat sheet,” ASU head coach Lindsey Ellis said. “She is still a huge presence on the ice. She’s always making huge plays and making good passes and picking up her head for those plays, but she is always doing the right thing.”

ASU will be losing three senior captains at the end of this season. With two years under her belt at the end of this year, Potter will be a player who could be looked upon to possibly step up into a leadership position with five new players already committed to ASU for next season.

From Minnesota, to playing once a week in a beer league, to being one of the top defenseman on a college hockey team, Potter certainly has had quite a journey.

“When you look at championship programs, it’s about hard work and dedication,” Ellis said. “... Molly pretty much embodies all of that, so especially moving forward with having two more years, it’s just going to be awesome.”

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