Cougars women’s hockey year in review

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Natasha Kostenko is one of many Cougars returning for another run at a National Championship./Rob Weitzel Graphic Productions

Natasha Kostenko is one of many Cougars returning for another run at a National Championship./Rob Weitzel Graphic Productions

Team hoping to take positives away from this season

Author: Bram Lerat – Contributor

The University of Regina women’s hockey team has a lot to look forward to next year. While they were knocked out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals this year in heartbreaking fashion, looking to the future is the best option for the team. The Cougars finished with a regular season record of 15-11-2 and ended up taking the last playoff spot with a sixth place finish.

While they did finish on the lower end of the standings, it was good enough to reach every team’s first goal, the playoffs. Their first opponents were the University of Manitoba Bisons, a team that they had beaten just once out of four meetings in the regular season. While the odds weren’t in their favour, the Cougars made sure to put on one of the most exciting playoff series in recent memory. After losing 4-1 in game one, the Cougars came back from a 3-1 deficit in game two with a four-point performance from Kylie Gavelin, which included an overtime winner. Following the dramatic win, Bailey Braden continued the trend next game as she tied the game with one second left in regulation time and sent the series into overtime. Unfortunately, the upset was taken away as the Bisons scored, ending the team’s season.

Wondering how the Cougars were feeling enter the playoffs? Read John Loeppky’s interview with head coach Sarah Hodges! 

A loss is a loss, but the performance from the women in the playoffs was admirable and a well fought battle. The effort and ability to never give up is something this team cannot be knocked for in the playoffs or regular season. With nine wins outside of regulation time in the regular season and one win within the playoffs, the overtime heroes will be looking to take the resilience and clutch performances into next season.

What we can look forward to next year? With only the captain Triston Riemer finishing up her career, the team looks almost identical at this point, with six more women entering into their fifth-year roles. That experience and leadership is also spread out within every position as both goalies, three forwards, and one defenceman are looking to end their careers with a championship next year. With a boost in every department, the team is looking promising for next year, which could bring a good chance at success on all levels.
While every position is being filled with experience and leadership from last year, the women will be looking at their promising scoring talents to continue where they left off from last year. Kylie Gavelin and Stephanie Sawchuk were the one-two punch for the Cougars last year and with both returning, there should never be a lack of scoring within the lineup. Gavelin, in her third year, led the Cougars with 21 points in the regular season and ended up in the top 15 for league scoring. On the other side, Sawchuk finished with 14 points and will be entering her last year next Fall.
In just as an important role, the Cougars will be looking towards Carleen Meszaros to fill the gap of Triston Riemer and lead the younger defence core. In her fourth year, Meszaros put up 12 points, which includes an impressive tally of six goals. Heading into her final year, she will be relied on heavily on the back end and much of the team’s success will depend on how well she performs throughout the year.

Heading into the offseason, all of the women are sure to be looking forward and preparing for the upcoming campaign. With six possible fifth-years filling every department on the team, it looks as though this may be the team to make a push for nationals and a championship. Under the leadership of veteran head coach Sarah Hodges, this should be one of the teams to watch and look out for in Fall 2015.

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