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Shine bright like a diamond

I will learn to stop this year. /image: themanitoban.com
I will learn to stop this year. /image: themanitoban.com

Introducing the newest women’s hockey star

Article: Brady Lang – Sports Writer

Bailey Braden is one of seven first-year Cougars on the women’s hockey team that is ready to make an immediate impact with the club.

Braden played four years of hockey with the Midget AAA Melville Fox FM Prairie Fire – two as captain – and she believes the experience she gained from the team will really benefit her for this season and beyond.

“The league is very competitive. It develops good players and brings in a lot of high-level players accompanied by strong coaches with good systems,” says the product of Ituna, Saskatchewan. “They push you very hard. We travelled a lot and saw a lot of different teams.”

The nursing student led her team in points two seasons ago and ended up with 29 points in 28 games last season. It’s no secret Braden has a nose for the net and will be a young leader on the tough Cougars women’s team this season.

“I hope to be a plus player and my goal is to score seven goals. I hope to throw in a few assists as well,” Braden said.

And while the adjustment to the CIS has been tough on the young forward, she is catching on quickly.

“It’s a pretty big adjustment, learning new systems compared to playing midget AAA. It’s a lot faster paced and a lot tougher,” Braden said. “You have to focus on your battles and focus on the implemented systems.”

Braden said her only problem for the upcoming year may be balancing her heavy class load as well as maintaining a high level in hockey. Like every first-year university student, there will be a lot of adjusting for the 18-year-old, but a successful hockey season should be in the cards for Braden.

The club is coming off of a 19-9-3 record in 2012-13, and the Cougars look to build off of last season’s success. A loss in the Canada West Semi-finals last year looks like a building block for years to come, as the squad has 17 players with two or more years of experience and 11 going into their 3rd, 4th, and 5th years.

The team will once again be shooting for Nationals and Braden expects the team to be very tough to play against.

“We are a very strong team, we’ve got lots of big girls,” Braden said. “I believe we will be a very strong team and very tough to compete against.”

The team kicked off their season last weekend at the Co-operators Centre, this weekend at the Mandi Schwartz Challenge dropping two of three.

The Cougars kicked off the tournament with a 5-0 win over MacEwan University followed by a 1-0 loss to the University of Saskatchewan and a 5-3 defeat to the hands of Team Sask’s Under 18 team. Braden netted two goals for the Cougars – good for second on the team.

The regular season kicks off on Oct. 4, as the Cougars are on the road for two games in Calgary. The home opener for the club is on Oct.18th against UBC, the same team that defeated the girls in the Canada West Semis last year.

Braden will definitely be a player to watch as the season progresses. The rookie looked very good, and fit in well in the three games this weekend and if the first few games are any indication, Braden will be a main faucet in the Cougars offense in 2013-14.

About Brady Lang

Former benchwarmer and full time sports junkie with a passion for broadcast journalism. I'll talk sports with anyone, even if you're a Yankees fan!