Ava Christensen sets up between the pipes for the Benet Academy hockey team

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Benet Academy hockey has a long tradition of success as members of the prestigious Chicago Catholic League, winning multiple Kennedy Cups and advancing to the championship game of the Blackhawk Cup in the past ten years. This winter, the Redwings have a new varsity team member lacing up the skates in Ava Christensen. The junior is playing the goalie position for the first time on varsity after spending the last two years with the JV team. However, this is far from her first time putting on a hockey uniform.

“My dad asked me if I wanted to go skating when I was five, and I enjoyed it. So I started playing for the Sabres, and during my time, we would rotate who played goalie, and ever since the first time I played goalie there, I just fell in love with it and stuck with it,” said Benet Academy goalie Ava Christensen. 

Ava Christensen is no stranger to the hockey world

From skating lessons to joining club hockey, Christensen began her hockey career with the Sabres Hockey Association. She also played for the St. Louis Triple-A Blues and is currently playing for the Florida Alliance while attending school at Benet Academy and making plays on the ice as the Redwings backup goaltender. Being on the ice since the age of five, regardless of who she is playing with, has helped Christensen improve her game. 

“It really helps my development, and I feel like I’ve gotten so much better over the years. I played with boys, so, I mean, it’s great,” said Christensen. 

Her skills in net impressed the Redwing coaching staff, making Ava’s addition to the roster an easy decision.

“She’s one of the more technically proficient goaltenders we’ve had. She plays the position really well, and she makes the best use of her size. She does it by playing the position tactically better than pretty much every boy,” said Benet Academy Hockey Coach Andrew Schlie. 

This is not the first time she has played with boys as the Sabers Hockey Association is a co-ed group. That experience is what gave her the confidence to join the Benet boys team, as opposed to playing with a girl’s high school club team like the Naper Valley Warriors. Despite that level of success, Ava still had some learning curves to face when she first put on the pads at the high school level. 

“I was a little nervous at first for every game, but then you just kind of relax and ease into it and it’s a normal game after that,” said Christensen.

Challenging schedule between school and hockey

Her time on the ice varies depending on her schedule with the Florida Alliance but when she’s rocking the Redwing uniform has impressed her teammates and coaches. Players like Danny Quinlan knew the team was in good hands even before Ava took the ice for the first time with the Wings. 

“It was nice to have some diversity and her on the team. We were friends with her coming into it before she was even on the hockey team, and it was nice just to have her a part of the team,” said Benet Academy Hockey Player Danny Quinlan. 

Christensen has one more season with the Redwings, but for now, their main focus is to capture the CCL Kennedy Cup while making a deep run in the Blackhawk Cup, entering the postseason as the 15 seed. No matter how far the team goes, it will be exciting to see what Ava brings to the table come her senior year. 

“I’m looking forward to next year and teaching and helping her wherever we can to get an opportunity to play in college. So we’ll do anything we can do to support that and showcase her and give her that opportunity, I think she’s earned it. I think she’s one of the better female goaltenders. I’ve coached a lot of women in hockey, and I’m excited for her opportunities,” said Schlie. 

As for Christensen, she has a message for those who are on the fence about trying new things, whether they’re at the age of five or above. 

“I would just say work hard because there’s really not a limit like what you can do as long as you work for it,” said Christensen.

For more prep sports stories, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!