Three Cougars named to hockey All-Star teams

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One team wins, and one team loses as Cougars drop play-in game

The Cougar women finished their 2019-2020 season with a first-round playoff loss to the Mount Royal Cougars. Although it was an early playoff exit, the Cougars had a successful season. They posted a 14-14 record and charged all the way from last place in Canada West to fifth in the division. They did this with a mix of contributions from veterans and rookies, including first-year education student Paige Hubbard, who was nominated to the 2019-2020 Canada West All Rookie Team. For Hubbard, the end of the regular season was a highlight of the year.

“After Christmas break, we came back together, and we were all just really positive and energetic. I feel like we all lifted each other up and every game was a fun game. Our team just stepped it up and everyone stepped up their roles too.”

Despite the early loss in the playoffs, Hubbard doesn’t take it as a failure.

“It was a really good battle. They were really good and made us battle, but we didn’t end up with the win, and they did.”

The first-year Cougar stepped in with big shoes to fill in her first season of eligibility and passed all the tests. She finished with five goals and eight assists and played in all 28 regular season games for the Cougars. She also led the team with a plus/minus of +2, one of the only players to receive a positive mark in that category. With the graduation of Magwood, Hubbard will have even more opportunity to shine as an offensive threat in 2020, and her first season performance bodes well for the future of this young roster.

“I never really expected this. It’s kind of an unreal experience. It’s really cool because I never thought going into this [year] that I would be here.”

With the 2020 season freshly in the books, Hubbard is already geared up and ready to go for the 2020-2021 season,

“I am really excited for it. We have some good rookies coming in and I feel like our older girls will even step up more. We are really pumped, and I think we will have a good team next year too.”

The Cougars also graduate key players Jaycee Magwood, Tamara McVannel, and Jane Kish. Magwood caps off her Cougars career with her third second team All-Star nomination. Magwood was fifth in Canada West scoring this season with a team leading 22 points and was instrumental in their second half run to get into playoffs. In her Cougars career Magwood ranks third all-time in scoring with 100 points, fourth all-time in goals with 48, and third all-time in penalty minutes, a side effect of her dominating physical play.

Defender McVannel also received a second team All-Star nomination: her first in five years as a Cougar. McVannel anchored the back line for U of R in 2020; she put up 12 points and a 0 plus/minus in her 28 games. McVannel finishes her five-year career second all-time in scoring from the blueline for Cougar athletes with 54 points and has been a backbone for the Cougars throughout her career.

Goaltender Jane Kish fell short of an All-Star nomination despite leading the league in shutouts in 2020. Fifth-year Kish graduates with the team records in single season shutouts and career shutouts, a testament to her ability to steal games for the Cougars, which she did no less than seven times in 2019-2020. Kish finished with her best year as a Cougar by far, posting a GAA of 1.39 and a save percentage of 0.938. She also ranks second for U of R goaltenders in all-time minutes played with 4635 and first all-time in wins with 38. For Hubbard, these veterans were instrumental in her early success.

“I’ve always looked up to those girls every time I’ve stepped on the ice. I really think they’ve helped push me to be the very best that I can be. They’ve definitely helped me throughout the year.”

In the offseason, Hubbard is looking to improve her goalscoring prowess.

“I want to just keep building on my strengths. I want to improve on my shot, just make it harder, so it’s more difficult to stop.”

Coming from Brandon, Manitoba to Regina can be a big transition, but for Hubbard, the rookie blues was never an issue.

“I’ve always really liked Regina. I have family here, so I can always go to them if I feel homesick. My parents can visit any weekend. It’s not a big difference so far.”

With the season over, there is still pro hockey going on, and Hubbard has an NHL connection.

“I like the New York Islanders because I have a cousin [Ryan Pollock] who plays for that team.”

While they are now in off-season, the Cougars will be hungry to return to playoff contention in 2021.

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