According to Park City (Utah) High hockey coach Mike Masquelier, his program's decision on whom to nominate for the High School Hockey All-Star Game led to a near unanimous vote, with all the team's coaches voting for Kubicki. Yet, as the Salt Lake City Tribune reports, there's something strikingly different about Kubicki and the rest of the Park City team: the All-Star nominee is a girl.
The ponytail that sticks out of Laura Kubicki's helmet isn't a fashion statement so much as a way of fitting in with her non-hockey friends, most of whom just happen to be female, too. Yet these days, Kubicki gets even more attention for her leadership on the ice than she does for her gender. The captain started following hockey as a 5-year-old at her brother's games in Ohio, then grew on the ice herself in Michigan, where girls hockey is much more prevalent than it is out West.
Her hockey savvy and skating ability instantly helped eliminate any lingering teen sexism when she arrived in Park City, and her knowledge of the game made naming her the team's captain a natural choice when she became a senior this fall.
Both Kubicki and her teammates intimated that the honor is testament to how well she fits in with the team.
"I don't care if I'm playing against guys, I like to go out there," Kubicki told the Tribune. "I've always loved the game. Scoring a goal is just the best feeling. It's rougher, but I have three older brothers, so I'm used to it."
"At first we all thought, ‘Oh, God, a girl,'" Zack Hable, one of Kubicki's teammates, told the Tribune. "I'd say as soon as she stepped on the ice, we all knew she knew the game better than half the team. For the other teams we play, it probably took about a year, but she got some respect."
She's earned that respect both with her knowledge and toughness, an aspect that can be more important than any other factors in hockey. Kubicki has only been pulled out of one game due to physical play -- in one matchup during her junior year she was checked into the boards so often and so roughly that the Park City coaching staff held her out -- but she made up for that this year, returning against the team that dished out that past physicality and playing a complete, competitive game.
"She is a leader, and she leads by example," [Park City coach Mike] Masquelier said. "If she had exhibited fear and come off the ice, the team would've followed suit. More guys look up to her than she knows, even if they're not quite at the age where they feel comfortable asking for advice from a girl."
Now Kubicki is more than just a leader. She's also an All-Star.