author: brady lang | sports writer
A preseason record of 7-0 bodes well for new season
After an undefeated weekend at the Mandi Schwartz invitational, it’s time to get excited about the women’s hockey team.
After an impressive 20-12-1 record last season, the Cougars look to improve on their loss in the semifinals to the UBC Thunderbirds, the eventual conference champions, last season. The program has had success in the past years, making it to the Canada West finals in 2015, losing a heartbreaking series to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
This year seems different, however. The team has a plethora of veterans, lead by four fifth-years in forwards Kylie Gavelin, Meghan Sherven, along with defensemen Krista Metz, and Alexis Larson, as well as 2015-16 Canada West Rookie of the Year, forward Jaycee Magwood.
After a 7-0 start to the preseason, the Cougars come into the season with high expectations. Head Coach Sarah Hodges has been busy early on this season, being assigned Team Leader of the development camp early this fall. Accompanying her to the camp were the aforementioned forwards Kylie Gavelin and Jaycee Magwood alongside Alexis Larson.
The strength of the Cougars will definitely be their veterans coming into 2016-17. With an older defense core along with a great mixture on the forward lines, the 2016-17 season looks very bright for the Cougars.
The Cougars move into the season with four of the five top scoring leaders at forward still on their active roster. The loss of Stephanie Sawchuk will be aided by the six new recruits that the Cougars have brought in; along with the likes of fourth-year forwards Bailey Braden and Kylie Kupper and fifth-year forward Meghan Sherven looking to carry the teams load. The Cougars still boast their top three scoring leaders from last season in fifth-year Kylie Gavelin, third-year Emma Waldenberger and sophomore sensation Jaycee Magwood.
The defensive corps of the Cougars did take a huge hit in losing captain and fifth-year leader in Colleen Meszaros this past offseason. This opens up the door for two new recruits to step in to the veteran lead solid defense of the Cougars. At the top of the list is definitely Alexis Larson. Larson, going into her fifth and final year of eligibility also was brought into the development camp for Team Canada earlier this fall, and looks to be ready to once again be a stud on the backend of the team. Nikki Watters-Matthes also looked in fine form during this past weekend’s tournament, putting up two goals over the invitational tournament.
Joining these two as returning defenders are fifth- and fourth-year veterans, respectively, Krista Metz and Jolene Kirkpatrick, along with second-year Tamara McVannel.
The defense of the Cougars will be relied on heavily as the season progresses, and look to be the brightest spot of the squad.
One question mark coming into the season though does remain in between the pipes. Second-year goaltender Jane Kish is coming into the season with only four games of experience last season. With the loss of veteran Toni Ross, the team will have to rely on the veteran defense to help with the workload. Kish went 2-0 at the Schwartz invitational this past weekend, posting a shutout against the Team Saskatchewan Under 18 squad in the undefeated weekend.
Along with Kish, the Lady Cougs recruited Morgan Baker out of Ontario. Baker won her start this weekend over Lethbridge.
The Cougars will finish up their preseason on Friday at the Co-operators Centre when they face off against the Cougar Alumni. After posting a 7-0 record so far in the season, the ladies seem ready and set for puck drop on Oct. 7 against Mount Royal at home when the Canada West season kicks off.
Cougars 3, Lethbridge 2
Manitoba 4, U-18 2
Saskatchewan 2, U-18 1
Cougars 4, Saskatchewan 3
Manitoba 4, Lethbridge 2
Cougars 2, U-18 0
Manitoba 5, Saskatchewan 2
U-18 5, Lethbridge 2