by Jashvina Shah
Lily Delianedis and Izzy Daniel first met when they were kids. It was happenstance; Daniel went to a neighbor’s house, and Delianedis was already there. They saw each other, briefly, and mostly forgot about each other.
Until five years later. Both Delianedis and Daniel were lacing up skates at Blake High School for team tryouts. Delianedis was an eighth grader, new to the school, while Daniel was in ninth grade. But both players were new to the team.
“I was like, I remember this kid from five years ago back in the neighborhood. But Lily, I was a little afraid of her at first. We were both competing to be on the team,” Daniel said.
“I got cut here from the team in eighth grade and I didn’t get down on myself. I told myself that next year I’m going to make it, I just have to work that much harder and that’s what I did.”
Delianedis was equally as intimidated by Daniel, dazzled by her on the ice. But Daniel sat next to Delianedis in the locker room and the pair began talking. They made the team that year, became linemates and found chemistry on and off the ice. Over the next few years their bond grew and they moved from teammates to best friends and sisters. And soon they will both play college hockey at Cornell.
“We both just know a lot about hockey. She drives me to school in the mornings and we’ll talk about the games, we’ll go over video, we [even] made a fantasy hockey league,” Delianedis said.
Delianedis started playing hockey when she was about five years old, when her father coached Breck’s boy’s team. He brought her to skates and she attended games with her family. Eventually, she started playing boy’s hockey with Edina Youth Hockey.
For Daniel, hockey wasn’t her family’s sport of choice. Her father was an avid skier, so Daniel and her brother grew up with slopes instead of skates. That changed when Daniel and her brother overheard their neighbor talking about hockey practice. The Daniel children were intrigued, so they ran home and to enroll in hockey.
“The [memory] that’s most vivid is when I got my first composite stick,” Daniel said. “I had just made an AAA team and I’d used a wooden stick all my life, and my parents surprised me and got me a composite stick.”
Daniel and Delianedis underwent the recruiting process separately, sparsely talking about it with each other. It started young for both players, beginning with phone calls and morphing into visits.
“It’s a fun process because obviously it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to play college hockey and get recruited by a lot of schools,” Daniel said. “They show such strong interest in you and you build a relationship with each school and it’s hard to let some go. It’s a difficult decision, but in the end it’s a really rewarding process.”
Once Daniel had committed and Delianedis was making her final decision, a video of Lynah Rink and Cornell’s fans was all that was needed.
“This kind of brought it out and helped me make my decision [and] made it real for me that yes, this is really exciting and this is the school I want to go to,” Delianedis said.
Daniel, along with Delianedis, was drawn to Cornell because of the campus, atmosphere and head coach Doug Derraugh’s knowledge of hockey.
“We didn’t really know where we stood or what we were looking for, and then towards the end when we realized we were looking for similar things and that we were looking at similar schools, we started talking about it,” Daniel said. “In the end it got really real and exciting that we had the opportunity to both go to Cornell, which is amazing. One of your best friends is going to the same school as you and you get to play hockey with them for four more years. It’s pretty cool.”
Photo Credit: Dan Delianedis