John’s Journal: Kassandra Fontaine Is One Of The Guys
Bagley-Fosston Goaltender Is The Only Female On Boys Team
Posted: Sunday, February 20, 2022 - 2:34 PM
The biggest event of the Minnesota high school girls hockey season, the 2022 state tournament, will be held Wednesday through Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. One female hockey player, however, is just beginning the tournament season.
Kassandra Fontaine, a junior at Bagley High School, is the starting (and only) goaltender on the Bagley-Fosston boys hockey team. She has played every minute of every game and will be in net when the Flyers play at Park Rapids on Tuesday in the opening round of the boys Section 8A playoffs. Bagley-Fosston doesn’t have a girls hockey team.
“I enjoy my teammates,” Kassandra said after the Flyers defeated Becker/Big Lake 6-1 on Thursday night at Princeton Ice Arena, Becker/Big Lake’s home rink. “They're all my big brothers out there and they all protect me. I enjoy being able to make saves coming at me 80 miles an hour and I love getting the bruises. It just feels great.”
She has played hockey since was three and a half years old. She also plays on the high school volleyball and golf teams while taking college-level classes with dreams of becoming a surgeon. On the hockey team, she’s just like everybody else.
“She kind of is one of the guys,” said Bagley-Fosston coach Alex Jesness. “She sits with the guys on the bus and there are never any issues. We don’t think about it twice.”
Kassandra uses a separate dressing room before and after practices and games, but otherwise she’s in the thick of things.
“It's really great how she plays and how she has helped us throughout the season,” said teammate Logan Merschman. “It's been a great season having her out there and I'm really happy she's been here.”
Kassandra was one of three goalies on the team last season, finishing with a 2-1 record as the Flyers went 8-11-1. She made 30 saves in Thursday’s victory and ended the regular season with a save percentage of .883 and goals-against average of 3.46.
“I thought we played really well as a team and we worked the puck a lot,” she said after the game. “I thought our team did well, defensively and offensively. We got a lot of pucks to the net. And they helped me out, clearing the pucks in front when I couldn't control the rebound.”
Referees have complimented her after games on how well she played, and similar sentiments have come from opposing players and coaches, with a few exceptions.
“I get teased about it sometimes from other teams,” Kassandra said. “They're surprised that they can't score on me and they're always super mad like, ‘I can't score on this girl.’ ”
If fans are not paying attention, they may never know the Flyers’ goaltender is a female. She removed her mask, of course, during Thursday’s national anthem, and when she put it back on a small shock of hair poked out the back. After the game, she was the last member of her team to exit the ice. A young boy leaning over a railing from the bleachers above shouted, “Hey! That’s a girl!”
“She’s a competitor, that’s for sure,” Jesness said. “She’s a good kid but she’s really hard on herself. At times you’ve got to pick her up. She can let a goal in and she can get frustrated. She’s a really good goalie but there are times when there’s nothing you can do. She’s been getting better about that. And she doesn’t let it bother her in the long term. She’s a really nice kid, a pleasure to have on the team.”
One of Kassandra’s role models is Maddie Rooney, who was the goaltender on the boys team at Andover High School, played at Minnesota Duluth and in the Olympics. She watched Rooney play in high school and would love to follow her career path.
“I want to be like her someday, I want to make it as far as she did,” Fontaine said. “And honestly, seeing her makes me work so hard.”
Like Rooney, Kassandra would love to play on the women’s hockey team at Minnesota Duluth.
“I would really love to go DI, and the one school that I really hope to go to is UMD,” she said. “We’ve emailed a few schools but they've all not gotten back to me because I play on the guys team, so it's hard for me to get noticed.”
She has certainly proven her toughness while fighting bumps, bruises and illness to be on the ice for every game this season. It's a good thing she stayed healthy.
“I don’t really know how that would work," Jesness said. "I think we have one other kid who has played goalie before.”
Kassandra is already thinking about next season, when she will be a senior. She works on her hockey skills throughout the year.
“I think my biggest strength out there is my angles,” she said. “I work on it so much year-round. I'm working on having that best angle and coming out as far as I need to, to have that perfect angle to have as much as I can cover for that shot. And I'm pretty good at rebound control and communicating.”
Her teammates need no convincing.
“She's good for the team,” said Markus Olson. “She really helps us stay in games and helps us win a lot of games.”
--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org