When Amber Repke steps on the ice for the Alpena Street Cats, she'll not only be one step closer to fulfulling her dream of playing college hockey, she'll also be making history.
Repke, who recently signed with the Street Cats, is believed to be the first female player in a non-all female junior hockey league.
She hopes to be an important asset to the Street Cats when they begin Midwest Junior Hockey League play in September.
Amber Repke, shown playing with the Alpena Hockey Association’s U-19 Warriors in this photo, recently signed to play with the Alpena Street Cats this season. Repke is believed to be the first female player in a non all-female hockey league. She is the second Alpena player to sign with the Street Cats in two weeks after the team signed Jared Kwiatkowski earlier this month.
"I'm overjoyed about playing junior hockey," Repke said. "It's a big opportunity for me and I can't wait to see how I help the team and improve my skill level."
Repke, who will be a senior at Alpena High this fall, has mostly played against all-boys teams in nearly dozen years of playing hockey, so the opportunity to play with the Street Cats is just another challenge, but it's one she's looking forward to.
She's held her own against the boys throughout her career though. She played with the Alpena JV team two years ago and has also played with the Thunder Bay Wrecks.
"I always took it on as a challenge. I wanted to stick out and show that girls can play in a boys sport," Repke said.
Last season, as a first-line center for the Alpena Hockey Association's girls team, the U-19 Warriors, Repke tallied 21 goals and 18 assists in 43 games. She spent most of the year playing a different position from her normal spot as a wing and got faster and more accurate at faceoffs.
Street Cats assistant coach Lori Seguin has known Repke for several years and during a recent chance meeting, Repke told Seguin about her love of hockey and her desire to play in college. Seguin asked her to try out for the Street Cats and Repke signed after talking to head coach Igor Myaskovskiy.
"I think it's fantastic. I think it's great for the town and great for girls hockey all-around, especially with the women's program," Seguin said. "She's a skilled player. She's got some developing to do, but the ball's in her court and she's a hard worker. She always has been."
Repke's work ethic has helped her become a good hockey player, but also extends to the track whaere she is a sprinter and pole vaulter for the Alpena girls track team. Participating in track and field has helped make Repke a better all-around athlete and has also helped her with the physical demands of playing hockey.
"I've always been a sprinter and in hockey you need to be fast, quick and have a lot of stamina," Repke said. "I became a pole vaulter just this last year too and pole vault is helping with my slapshot."
Repke is the second Alpena player to sign with the Street Cats this month after former Alpena varsity player Jared Kwiatkowski signed with the team two weeks ago.
While playing with the Street Cats will be another challenge for Repke to face, it may also give her an opportunity to improve her skills and help her reach her goal of playing college hockey.
Emily Duncan, who was a member of the Alpena varsity team the last two seasons, signed with Adrian last year and Repke is hoping to become the next female hockey player from Alpena to join the college ranks.
"I want to make a college hockey league. I definitely want to be recruited and go on to the next level," Repke said.
In the meantime however, she's looking forward to contributing to her new team and is already impressed by the talent level of her new teammates.
"They're coming not only from all around Michigan, but from all around the world. I get to see how they skate and it will help me grow as a player," Repke said. "Some of these guys are at the college level already, so it'll just be learning how to read them better."
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.