It’s minutes before game time and the Snow Owls – a D-League men’s hockey team of SportsEngine employees – fire their practice shots at an empty net. Amy Anderson, the team’s goalie and best player, still hasn’t taken the ice and won’t until moments before the puck drops.
Her tardiness used to worry her teammates, but Anderson (formerly Jones) has never missed a game and is far too competitive to do so. The 33-year-old has played goalie at every level from Mites to NCAA Division I, and she still plays four nights a week in various men’s and women’s leagues across the Twin Cities. Skipping warmups is simply a way to prolong a hockey career nearing its 30th year.
Anderson is still just as competitive as the 8-year-old girl who literally had to be dragged off the ice.
Her hockey career began out of necessity for the sanity of her father, Greg Jones, and other hockey parents. Anderson was four years old and full of energy when she started watching her older brother Matt play youth hockey in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb.
“The first season Matt played she was too young to play so she ran around and harassed everybody in the stands,” Jones, a former Minneapolis Vocational School varsity player, said. “She was driving everyone insane in the stands, so the next year we let her play. It was much easier that way.”
Anderson excelled in hockey from the onset. Not only did she love to play, she was driven by hatred of losing and her desire to keep up with Matt. The siblings and their friends played pickup hockey at Grandview Park in Brooklyn Center nearly every day during the winters, for a minimum of three hours per night. On weekends, it wasn’t unusual for the gang to occupy the rink from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“It was always ‘fun’ trying to get her off the ice,” Jones said. “A lot of the time you had to pick her up and carry her off the ice because she was so tired.”
With few girls’ hockey programs available, Anderson played with the boys and, after switching to goalie, moved up age groups until she was playing alongside her brother who was two years older. Anderson held her own with the older boys but learned some lessons the hard way.
“I was playing goalie for my brother’s Mites team and we were down a goal, so they wanted to pull the goalie,” Anderson said. “Everyone was yelling at me to get off (the ice), but I wouldn’t go because I thought I was doing really well. So once the whistle blew my dad ran out on the ice and pretty much dragged me off.”
Amy Anderson grew up in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, playing hockey mostly on boys' teams.
Name: Amy Anderson
Resides in: Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Family: Husband, Ross
Job: SportsEngine Accounts Receivable Accountant
Interests: Hockey, softball, golfing, fishing, friends, family, the Great Outdoors, working out
Amy Anderson (formerly Jones) grew up in Brooklyn Center and started playing youth hockey when she was five. She played with the boys, including her brother Matt, in both organized and pick up hockey and often played above her own age group. In seventh grade, she began a six-year career on the Park Center High School girls’ hockey team, which won a state championship in 2000 and was runner-up in 1999. She played two years of NCAA Division I women’s hockey at Findlay University in Ohio. After college, she moved back home and began playing men’s and women’s league hockey in Brooklyn Center and other Minneapolis suburbs. After working at the University of Minnesota between 2012 and 2015, she joined SportsEngine in July 2015. She married Ross Anderson in May 2016, who she says can beat in almost everything except golf and NHL on Xbox.
Amy Anderson is the goaltender for the Snow Owls, a men's league team made up mostly of SportsEngine employees.
The episode was one of many that ended in tears. Anderson admitted that growing up her temper was triggered by losing and often manifested in aggression toward her brother. Jones, as her coach and father, once made her stand in a snowbank for punching her brother after a hockey game.
“She had to learn to, not like losing, but to accept it,” Jones said. “She played on the same team with her brother a few times – luckily one was in the goal and one was skating out, otherwise I’m not sure how well they would have (gotten) along. After the games they would always argue, even if they won.”
Anderson played with the boys until she joined future-Olympian Krissy Wendell on the Park Center High School girls’ varsity team as a seventh grader.
Teammate Erin Stoney noticed early on that playing with the boys had given Anderson an advantage as an athlete and a leader on the team.
“It was very apparent that Amy and Krissy had played with the boys just by their level of play,” Stoney said. “They were faster, stronger and were used to fighting to earn their keep with the boys. The only way they knew how to play was with a chip on their shoulders.”
Stoney won several national championships for University of Wisconsin in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, or “college JV” as she put it, but claims Anderson was the best goalie she had ever played in front of.
“It’s hard to pick out great moments for her because she was always such a brick wall,” Stoney said. “We were always so comfortable with her behind us which made us want to return the favor by playing well and protecting her. When she had a rare crappy game she knew how to go into her own mind and pull herself together – that’s a good reason she became a captain.”
In Anderson's six-year career, the Pirates appeared in four section finals and two state tournaments. In 2000 state championship game, Anderson and the Pirates shut out Anoka, 6-0. Her varsity performance drew the eye of local college scouts from the University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas and University of Minnesota-Duluth, but after reviewing her offers, Anderson accepted a Division I scholarship at University of Findlay in Ohio where she could get more playing time.
“We were very proud of her for making it to Division I,” Jones said. “It’s only one in 15,000 kids or so that are able to do that, and it was never the intent that she would get to college hockey. She made it because she liked it and she worked at it.”
In two seasons at Findlay – a hockey program that was 71-82-13 in five years of existence – Anderson had a 4-3 record with a .910 save percentage. Her most memorable games were playing the Gophers in Mariucci Arena and a 34-save effort against University of Wisconsin. The Oilers lost to the Badgers 4-0, but Anderson claims it was a moral victory and one of her best performances.
Amy Anderson is an accounts receivable accountant for SportsEngine.
The Oilers went 21-34-3 during Anderson’s tenure, which often tested her composure, but also taught her how to handle losing.
“When you play on a losing team you realize that it’s just part of the game and it doesn’t faze you as bad,” Anderson said. “Still, my reaction was to just not talk to anyone – that way I didn’t have the opportunity to do anything dumb.”
In 2003, after graduating with a degree in Physical Education and Health, Anderson returned to Minnesota and continued her hockey career the way it began – playing pickup games at the rinks in Brooklyn Center. Before long, she was fielding offers to play on men’s league teams, including her brother’s and Ross Anderson’s – who she married in May 2016.
In 2012 – in the aftermath of the Minnesota Wild dressing 51-year-old Paul Deutsch as its emergency netminder – Anderson competed in Bud Light’s Search for the Next Paul Deutsch. She was the only female contender in a pool of 11 amateur goalies from the Twin Cities and outlasted more than half of the field.
“It was all men’s league goalies who definitely don’t practice very much, and they put us through forty minutes of drills,” Anderson said, who hadn’t done drills since college. “We were all just dying out there and they didn’t bring out any water, just beer, which just made things way worse.”
Anderson worked at an accountant at the University of Minnesota from 2012 to 2015 and continued a healthy dosage of men’s and women’s league hockey. In June 2015, after applying for nearly a dozen finance positions, she was hired as a Payment Specialist at SportsEngine and fit right into the company’s sports-centric atmosphere.
“Even working in finance, when I have to deal with people that are unhappy with their financial situation, I can still chat sports with them and turn the conversation around,” Anderson said. “There’s cool opportunities all the time, including the hockey team, and it’s just fun to be around all the sports people and mesh our stories together.”
Anderson’s arrival at SportsEngine was none-too-soon for the Snow Owls, who were 4-5-1 last season. Teammate Ryan McIntosh said with Anderson in net, the Snow Owls are beating teams that they used to lose to.
“I’ve never played goalie, but from everything I’ve see, she’s just awesome,” McIntosh said. “She just always knows where the puck is and makes some really incredible saves. There was a game a few weeks ago that we won 4-3 to a team that had beat us 7-0 without her.”
Anderson’s routine tardiness may leave McIntosh and defenseman Nick Burggraf worrying in the locker room, but her teammates claim she is the best goalie in the league and is just as valuable in the office as on the ice.
“At work, she’s saving my butt when it comes to finance questions,” Burggraf said.
“She’s just as great of a teammate at work,” added McIntosh.