Wight and fellow forwards have been money for Cougars women’s hockey team
It is rare for a women’s hockey player to have more goals than Hayley Wickenheiser.
Well, for University of Regina Cougars women’s hockey forward Rianne Wight, that is exactly the case. With 12 goals on the season, the fifth-year Wawota product leads the decorated hockey legend, who plays forward for the University of Calgary Dinos, by three goals. Along with Wight’s 12 goals, she has added four assists for a total of 16 points.
“It’s pretty cool,” offered Wight, who is tied for second among CIS players in total goals scored. “She’s obviously the best female hockey player in the nation, so it’s nice to know that you’re there and it’s something to say I guess. I think she’s had a few less games than I’ve had, but if I could stay with her I’d definitely be happy.”
Wight has not been the only player dominating offensively for Regina this season. Paige Wheeler (six goals, nine assists) and Kelcie McCutcheon (nine assists, 11 points), have formed a dominant scoring line with Wight. As a team, the Cougars are averaging 2.58 goals a game close to 27.7 shots a game. All three players are easily in line to shatter their point totals from last season.
“Playing on a really strong line has helped,” explained Wight when asked about her successful start to the season. “Paige and Kelsey are definitely getting me the puck a lot. I’ve been at the right place at the right time I guess. It’s just nice to always know you have them with you.”
“We all have really good chemistry,” added Wheeler, a third-year forward from Estevan. “Our coach [Sarah Hodges] finally put us all together on a line.”
All three players noted that preparation in the off-season has been a key to their success during the Canada West regular season.
“We train a lot in the off-season,” said McCutcheon, a fifth-year forward hailing from Ceylon. “We have workouts every week that we do together and individually.”
The team also got a new sense of direction during the off-season.
“We got a new trainer this summer, Shawn Kuster, and he set up a really specific hockey program for us,” mentioned Wight. “It seems to be working for us very well. It’s a very hockey-specific – lots of power. Working with that program has helped make us a stronger team.”
While it has been Wight, Wheeler, and McCutcheon providing the majority of the scoring for the Cougars, they noted that it has been their fifth-year captain, Rae-Lynn Somogyi, who has been providing leadership to the squad. Points have certainly been hard to come by for Somogyi. She has not found the score sheet this season. This is not exactly a huge shock, as she has only averaged around four points a season in her university career.
“She’s one of those captains who doesn’t get credited for their hard work,” explained Wheeler. “She’s more of a defensive player, not offensive.”
“Rae-Lynn is a great leader,” said Wight. “We can definitely all look up to her.”
Wight added that Rae-Lynn is “actually doing her internship right now so she’s got a lot on her plate.”
Despite strong scoring and strong leadership, Regina has struggled in the last while. After a triumphant start to the season, which saw the Cougars post four wins in their first six games, Regina has dropped five of the last six. At 5-5-2, the team has dropped to fifth in the conference.
Because of their strong start, Wheeler feels that the Cougars have entered games “too confident.”
During this stretch, the numbers are not pretty. Regina has allowed 37 goals and only put up 12. Goals have been hard to come by, a fact which holds true for Wight, Wheeler and McCutcheon as well.
“We’re all playing on different days,” noted Wight. “We haven’t been coming together as a team.”
Also, more pressure has been put goaltender Lisa Urban, and the numbers dictate that. Urban’s save percentage has dropped to .870% and she is allowing four goals a game.
“We need to work on our defence play and help our goalie,” explained Wheeler. “Some goals have been [Lisa’s] fault, but they wouldn’t be her fault if we would’ve helped her.”
“Once they’ve scored on you a few times, you kind of get in a slump and nothing works for you,” mentioned Wight.
Still, the Cougars have not let their recent struggles destroy their confidence.
“We’re optimistic,” said McCutcheon. “Our record still isn’t that bad. We’re not too far that we can’t get back.”
“We’re just trying to think of the positives and not the negatives,” added Wight.
For results of last weekend’s Cougars games against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, see this issue’s U of R sports roundup.