By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When Rochester Mayo coach Todd Huyber first heard about the girl that wanted to join his boys hockey team this season, he didn’t know much about her. But her reputation preceded her.

“I heard she was good,” Huyber said. “I didn’t know she was as good as she is.”

Makayla Pahl is a junior at Rochester Mayo. After two years of Bantams this is her first season of high school hockey. And she’s never been one to shy away from a challenge.

“I guess I wanted more competition,” she said. “And I thought boys hockey would be the way to go.”

After all, she points out, it’s no big change — she’s been playing boys hockey the last five years anyway.

She says the guys on the team accepted her quickly. Well, pretty quickly anyway.

“At first they were kind of hesitant, and like, oh a girl’s coming and playing for us,” Pahl said. “Once I tried out and I started playing in the scrimmages, and played my game against Faribault, they were like, yeah, she’s like the real deal.”

Once they figured out how good she is, that is.

“ Yeah,” she said with a laugh.

Pahl says she feels like this will best prepare her for the next level. She’s committed to play for the Gophers — their women’s team, this time. She’ll also play on Team USA in the U-18 Women’s World Championships next month in Russia.

“Put it this way, those are girls that are probably going to be hopeful Olympians in three, four years,” Huyber said. “It’s quite an honor, and she’ll see a lot of good talent.”

That’s her ultimate goal — to play in the Olympics.

The goalie for the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team in the Olympics this February will be Maddie Rooney, a 20-year-old from Andover who played boys hockey in high school, just three years ago. And Pahl is looking to follow in her footsteps.

So to anyone who might say she’s not being supportive of girls hockey by playing with the boys, she’d like you to hear this:

“I can kind of see where it’s coming from,” Pahl said. “Some people say I think I’m too good to play girls hockey and that’s why I’m playing boys, but that’s not the truth at all. I want to get better for myself. Not saying girls is super easy or slow or whatever. But boys hockey is going to get me to where I want to be.”

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