Archive for the ‘Women’s Hockey’ Category

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The UBC Thunderbirds practicing at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on Tuesday, October 9, 2018.

VANCOUVER, B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds will hit the road for the first time this season as they take on the Mount Royal Cougars this weekend. Both teams opened the 2018 Canada West campaign with a 1-1-0 split. UBC bounced back with a 3-1 win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Saturday, and they will be looking to add to that momentum in Alberta.

“We saw some good things,” Coach Graham Thomas explained. “We still saw some areas that we need to tidy up. It’s early on in the year, that’s okay. We’re not panicking at all, but we definitely need a challenge. We need to be better, and we need to look at ourselves, all of us. We’ve got to be a little more disciplined in certain situations, and also we have to be better on special teams.”

The Thunderbirds 3 goals came on 74 shots over both games vs Lethbridge. A 2.46 team shooting percentage is a sign that the floodgates haven’t opened just yet. While UBC is generating traffic, buzzing, and creating top quality scoring opportunities, the puck just isn’t finding a home in the net.

“It’s one of those tough things,” said Thomas. “We were happy with the shots we had, chances we had. Capitalizing on those chances and converting them is where we still need a little more focus, and work. That comes back to ownership and accountability.

As a coach, that’s one of the hardest situations. We’re getting shots, chances, and we want to be careful not to blow everything up, because we’re doing some really good things. At the same time. We can’t be happy with not converting on a lot of those chances.”

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UBC Thunderbirds forward, Emily Costales. Tuesday, October 9, 2018.

Vancouver native, Emily Costales, has found herself on a scoring line with Mathea Fischer, and Hannah Clayton-Carroll. While the crafty veteran hasn’t hit the score sheet yet. She has no doubt the goals will eventually start to pile up.

“We’ve been given the chances and opportunities,” Costales echoed. “It’s just capitalizing on that, which will come in time. It’s definitely trying to put the puck in the net, and do what you have to do, to get the win. Just put pucks in the net, and hopefully that comes through.”

Mount Royal could be exactly what UBC needs to turn on the red light, but it won’t be easy. This is a hungry bunch of Cougars who will be motivated to beat a Thunderbirds team that swept them in the Canada West quarterfinal playoffs last February.

“Their roster has improved,” Thomas revealed. “They had a good preseason. We’re just getting into the video now. They’re going to be good games, spirited games. From us ending their season last year, I think they’ll be a little bit ready for that, and a little bit extra fired up.”

There is nothing like renewing acquaintances with a playoff foe. It’s still quite early in the season, but points in October count just the same as they do during the stretch drive at the end of the season.

Whether it be the Cougars, Huskies, or Pronghorns, it’s all the same to Costales. She wants to win, and improve no matter who UBC is facing at the other end of the rink. It’s always about taking that next step, and doing what the Thunderbirds do best.

“I think we have to come to every game no matter who we’re playing with the same mindset,” Costales said. “Go out there, play our best, and not really worry about our opponent. Give all that we can, so we don’t have any regrets later on.”

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. As long as UBC continue to stay focused, the offensive will come. It’s only a matter of when, not if. Mount Royal will have to hope the Thunderbirds aren’t ready to prey on the Cougars.

 

UBC Thunderbirds at Mount Royal Cougars, Friday October 12 at 6:00 pm pt

UBC Thunderbirds at Mount Royal Cougars, Saturday October 13 at 2:00 pm pt

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UBC Thunderbirds forward, Hannah Clayton-Carroll Tuesday, October 2, 2018

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The UBC Thunderbirds will drop the puck on the 2018 – 2019 season on Friday night at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre against the Lethbridge Pronghorns. UBC will be looking to build momentum, and start the season on a positive note. Preseason is done. It’s all about stepping on the ice for that first big game.

“Everybody is very motivated to play this weekend,” UBC Coach Graham Thomas said. “Very excited for this season. The buzz around this group in the locker room, and on and off the ice. We’re really gelling and meshing. We’re further ahead than we were last year. We’re more mature as a team, and more focused. We have some good new players, and some compliments. All around, we’re going to be a solid team this year. We’re really excited to get it started, finally.”

The Thunderbirds will feature four new rookies this season. Forwards, Emma Hall, and Ashley McFadden, as well as defenders, Hannah Koroll, and Rylind MacKinnon. The mix of veterans and new faces is sure to add balance, and depth to a strong Thunderbirds lineup.

“They’re fitting in well,” forward, Hannah Clayton-Carroll said. “We’ve got a couple of good ones, Rylind. She has a lot more power, and we have Hannah. The back-end is looking good. Front end, we’ve got a little more skill. We’ve got two forwards that have really good hands, and are able to play the puck really well. It’s going to be nice.”

Clayton-Carroll is expected to start the season on a line with Mathea Fischer, and Emily Costales. UBC will need that trio to produce a lot of offence this season. UBC had difficulty scoring goals down the stretch last season. They’ll need to ripple the twine with  more regularity this season. Especially in October with six of eight home games at UBC.

So… where are the goals going to come from this season?

“There’s going to be a change a little bit in offensive strategy,” Thomas revealed. “I think some of the players being a little bit older, more mature, and focused, will be ready. I think the offence is going to come balanced. We have four lines that can contribute. I think our D can contribute as well. Our offensive production has been a focus for us, and it’s going to be up this year.”

Scoring is going to have to come from everyone on the roster. There’s no superstar sniper coming to save the day. It’s got to be scoring by committee, with everyone chipping in. Clayton-Carroll was tied for first in Canada West with 12 goals last season. Heading into this season she knows that it’s got to be team scoring all around.

“Anyone can score. Anyone has a chance to score on this team, to be honest.”

UBC finished 3rd in Canada West last season with a 19-5-4 record and 56 points. Lethbridge had a 5-18-5 record, 8th spot, and 18 points. As the two teams get set to start the season. The Thunderbirds aren’t taking their opponent lightly.

“I think they’re going to try and keep it a real defensive game,” Thomas admitted. “They’re going to go at us hard. They always have great goaltending, so that can always make a big difference. We’ve always had battles with them. They always play really well against us. They’re well coached, and they’ll be prepared. They’ve played a lot of games in the preseason, so they’ll come in with a lot of games under their belt, and that’ll kind of lean towards their favour. We’ve got to make sure we stick to our game plan. Come out hungry, and ready to attack right from the puck drop.”

The Thunderbirds went 4-0-0 last season against the Pronghorns out scoring them 8 – 4. Each game was a one goal margin of victory for UBC. It’s going to be another tight battle, and since it’s Canada West. Things could get a little chippy.

“I can see it getting a little bit physical,” Clayton-Carroll said. “I don’t know about the score. Having a physical game is always exciting. It add a little bit more fun for us and the fans. It just gets a little more intense which is nice.”

It’s getting a little cooler outside, leaves are falling, everything is spiced, and hockey season is finally here. Sticks have been taped, skates sharpened, and the UBC Thunderbirds are ready to go.

 

UBC Thunderbirds vs Lethbridge Pronghorns, Friday October 5 at 7:00 pm pt

UBC Thunderbirds vs Lethbridge Pronghorns, Saturday October 6 at 2:00 pm pt

 

TORONTO, Ontario – Please visit The Ice Garden for my feature on Canada Hockey and Markham Thunder’s Laura Stacey

https://bit.ly/2BmGQR5

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Canada Hockey and Markham Thunder forward, Laura Stacey in Toronto, Ontario, June, 2018.

Thanks

Montreal, Quebec – Please visit The Ice Garden for my feature on Canada Hockey’s Mélodie Daoust.

https://www.theicegarden.com/2018/7/21/17590766/melodie-daoust-reflects-on-impressive-year-canada-womens-hockey

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Merci

 

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UBC Thunderbirds Mathea Fischer (L), and Ireland Perrott (R) at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, March 27, 2018.

VANCOUVER, B.C – The Canada West campaign is long finished, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hockey to be played. As we know, the fifth season is always hockey, and that holds true to form even in the Canada West and USports offseason.

UBC Thunderbirds forward Mathea Fischer, is gearing up to represent Norway at the 2018 IIHF Women’s World Championship. The six team tournament takes place in Vaujany, France from April 8 – 14.

“I’m really excited, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Fischer said. “I’m really excited to be back with the girls. I’m feeling good, I’ve been skating a lot lately, so hopefully I’m ready to go.”

Fischer, and Team Norway will play Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Slovakia and France.

Each team will play each other once. The team that finishes at the top of the standings earns the chance to compete at the 2019 World Championship tournament in Finland. That tournament will be the first edition to include 10 teams, including, Canada, U.S.A, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic, and Japan.

“We have a good chance this year to come out with a medal, and maybe even make it to the top-level if we win this,” said Fischer. “We’re really excited. I think for all of us, it’s a really big deal. We’ve been preparing for this for a long time, and for our families as well. It’s a good opportunity for us.” Fischer said before flying off to join up with Team Norway.

While Norway has a strong shot at winning the tournament and earning that coveted spot among the elites in women’s hockey. The third year Thunderbird already knows which opponent could potentially cause some trouble for Norway.

“Right now it’s Austria,” Fischer revealed. “That’s our biggest threat for this tournament.”

Norway has never made it to the big hockey dance. If Norway are able to achieve this feat it would open new doors for hockey in Norway. The team would garner more media, fans, growth, and overall exposure for women’s hockey back home.

“That’s been a goal for us for a long time.” Fischer admitted. “We’ve been close. We have a couple of silver medals in the past, and we had some bronze. We’ve been working really hard to get there, and I think for all the girls, it’s a big challenge for sure, but it’s really exciting. It would mean a lot to the veterans, as well as the younger players if we could do that.”

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UBC Thunderbirds forward Mathea Fischer following practice at Father David Bauer Arena on November 29, 2016.

Not only does opportunity allow Fischer more time to play hockey on an international stage, but it also keeps her in peak condition for next fall with the UBC Thunderbirds. There always a fine line between balancing hockey, exams, family, friends, and mental health. Fischer has the full support of UBC Thunderbirds Head Coach Graham Thomas.

“What I love about these experiences for Mathea, she learns to play in big, big situations, must win games against big competition, in a highly competitive environment. You can’t put a price tag on those experiences. It’s so good for her development just on the mental side of it, to be able to play in must win games for her country. It’s like playoffs, these short-term competitions. It’s great for us, because she gets experience playing in those big time games, which are very similar to what we want our players to be playing confident in those types of environments.” said Thomas.

Exams can always wait. This is a wonderful chance to experience a big time tournament with a lot to play for, and a massive reward. Any athlete will tell you they dream of representing their country. It’s not Fischer’s first time with Norway, but it means just as much.

“It’s a big honour to represent my country.” Fischer said glowingly. “I’ve had some great experiences in the past. I think also coming back for next season playing for UBC, this could help me grow as a player and bring back experience that hopefully can be valuable for next season, and the playoffs.”

Spoken like a true hockey player, Fischer already has UBC on her mind as she is a world away with Norway looking to cause upsets, make waves, and win at all costs.

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The Ohio State University Buckeyes forward, Lauren Spring. February 28, 2018.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The puck is about to drop on the 2018 NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Championships, and The Ohio State Buckeyes are looking to make some noise. The 23-10-4 Buckeyes have never made it to the NCAA tournament, but they will make history on Saturday afternoon vs Boston College at Conte Forum at Chestnut Hill.

The 2017-2018 campaign has been the most successful in Buckeyes history. Coach Nadine Muzerall’s Buckeyes made OSU Ice Rink a fortress with a 16-2-2 home record. Ohio State earned an at-large berth in the eight-team NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes have been making history all season, and they’ve still got a flock of Eagles to eliminate.

Senior forward, Lauren Spring, has seen plenty of ups and downs during her time at Ohio State. It’s been immensely rewarding to see a positive environment help contribute to the Buckeyes best season ever.

“I think from the beginning of the year, we focused on having a team culture within the locker room between the girls and the coaching staff,” Spring said. “As a whole, having pillars, and a common goal, and having a positive cultured environment to come show up and be a part of every day, has contributed to our success on the ice this year.”

The Kelowna, British Columbia native, has been a role model since the first time she stepped on campus. Spring has been nominated for the 2018 Hockey Humanitarian Award. The award recognizes the ‘finest citizen’ for leadership in the community.

“It’s extremely humbling to even be in that top five,” said a modest Spring. “Looking at the others who were dominated, the things they have done are also absolutely amazing. Just to be nominated with those other fellow student athletes is really humbling for me as a person.”

When the Buckeyes co-captain isn’t taking a wicked wrister, blocking shots, or digging for pucks in the corner, she’s finding ways to help out others. In May, Spring was part of a team of Ohio State University athletes that went to Ecuador with ‘Soles for Souls’.

“We went over for the ‘Souls for Soul’ organization,” Spring revealed. “We provided shoes to a bunch of communities within Ecuador. Everyday we’d go out and do a shoe distribution. We’d size the kids feet up, wash them, and we’d give them new shoes. It was a really great opportunity just to be a part of, and to see how such a small gesture can go such a long way.”

The 2018 Hockey Humanitarian Award will be announced at the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minnesota on April 6, 2018.

Spring is hoping she will be there as well as her Ohio State teammates. In order to get to the Frozen Four the Buckeyes will have to upset Boston College, on their home ice. The visitors won’t be content with turning up and being in awe of the moment. Ohio State wants to experience being in the NCAA tournament, but most of all they want to win.

“I’ve never been able to play past the first round of the playoffs,” admitted Spring. “It’s just a different vibe. Practices are awesome, the girls are excited. Just to be able to go out on the ice everyday, and practice with that excitement. It’s just a whole different ball game. It’s extremely exciting, it’s what we train for all year.”

It won’t get any easier for Ohio State, but when does elimination hockey ever get easier. The Buckeyes could potentially face number one ranked Clarkson University, or Mercyhurst University on Friday, March 16. As fantastic as that would be, Spring isn’t about to look past the Eagles. The task at hand is Boston College, and that’s the primary focus.

“We’re just making program history.” said a confident Spring. “Every time we accomplish something for the program, it’s really special to be a part of. If we get to the Frozen Four, it’s just to enjoy that moment, reflect on everything that we did to get there. We know we deserve to be there, and it’ll just be some really good hockey.”

It’s March, and the madness is certainly here. You know there is always a cinderella story, and it would be Ohio State. The Buckeyes are hoping they can cause upsets, make history, and continue on playing hockey with a ‘Spring’ in their step.

Off the ice, Spring would like to stay in Columbus. If she can find a teaching job she wants to continue helping give back to kids in The Buckeye State. “I have a physical education health license here teaching K-12. I’m ready, and I’m excited.”

While one chapter closes, the next chapter is only just beginning for Lauren Spring.

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The UBC Thunderbirds during practice at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

VANCOUVER, B.C – It’s the most wonderful time of the year for hockey fans, that’s right, it’s playoff time. The puck drops on the Canada West quarterfinal playoffs this weekend. It’s going to be a barn burner between the defending Canada West champion, UBC Thunderbirds and the Mount Royal Cougars. The Thunderbirds just missed out on a first round bye, and as a result they will have to tangle with a hungry Cougars team.

“There won’t be any surprises,” said UBC Coach, Graham Thomas. “We both know each other pretty well, and just saw each other out here. We can never take any team lightly, there a stingy team to get goals on. They’re well coached, hard-nosed, they never quit. There going to come at us, they’re motivated. It’s going to be a good matchup, everybody is tied for first right now.”

UBC won all four regular season games against the Cougars and most recently a pair of games to close out the Thunderbirds home schedule. Three of those games were tightly contested as one-goal victories. The Cougars can hang with the Thunderbirds, but can they come into Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre and win a playoff series?

“If the regular season is any indication it should be a fairly tight series,” said Mount Royal Coach, Scott Rivett. “We expect both teams are going to compete extremely hard, be physical and we are going to have to try and do a good job at minimizing their speed and skill throughout the series. I think both teams have strong goaltending and we suspect that will be at the forefront for both teams this weekend.”

Not only will UBC looking to pick up the pace, but they will also be looking to bust out of a scoring drought. UBC has scored just 9 goals in the previous 7 games. Getting shots on goal, finding ways to create chances, and converting will be imperative if UBC is to have any post-season success.

Thunderbirds leading-scorer, Hannah Clayton-Carroll rippled the net with 12 goals this season. She admits that she’s feeling a bit of pressure to produce when her teams needs her the most.

“Yeah a little bit,” Clayton-Carroll said honestly. “It’s more of a team effort. I kind of just tap it in, but the teams working together and getting the goal as a team. Yeah, hopefully we can do that a couple of more times.”

The USports 5th ranked Thunderbirds will need to put together a solid sixty-minute effort, and possibly overtime as well. Winning the special teams battle, staying out of the box, and firing more pucks on net will make all the difference. Creating those opportunities in the Cougars defensive zone starts with the most common strategy.

“It starts with our break-out,” revealed Coach Thomas. “If we can break-out with more speed, with closer little passes, and support coming up the ice. Also if we’re not getting hemmed in our zone  for extended periods of time. Just getting in front of the goalies eyes, we’ve got to get traffic in front of Zoe (De Beauville). Assuming she’s going to play.”

You might think that Mount Royal comes into this best of three series as the underdog, but you would be mistaken. On any given day, anyone can turn up and win. Sports isn’t played on paper, it’s not decided on a whiteboard, or from a fantasy draft.

The Cougars aren’t afraid of the back-to-back Canada West champions or the silver, and bronze medals UBC won at previous USports Nationals. Mount Royal has fought, and clawed their way into the Canada West playoffs, and they’re coming to make some noise.

“Winning in this league at any time is difficult let alone in the playoffs,” said Coach Rivett “I think the experience we gained last year finely getting the opportunity to play in the post season was huge for us and now just being here isn’t good enough. Learning how to win in Canada West at this time of the year is an important step for our program to take.”

The third-year, Vancouver native and her teammates will be ready to go on Friday afternoon. They’re out to prove that UBC is still a force to be reckoned with. The Thunderbirds and every other USports playoff team in Canada wants to win a gold medal. It all starts in the quarterfinals with a crucial series against a determined Mount Royal team.

“I think we’ve just got to be smart as a team,” Clayton-Carroll said, following practice this week. “Work together, go through our systems, know them well, and make sure that we’re ready to show up Friday, Saturday, and Sunday if needed.”

There is no better atmosphere than playoff hockey. Teams are out to show what they’ve accomplished all season. Playoff hockey separates the contenders from the pretenders,. UBC and Mount Royal are going to bring exciting, fast-paced hockey to The Doug.

 

(3) UBC Thunderbirds vs Mount Royal Cougars (6)

Friday, February 16 – 3:00 p.m. at The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.

Saturday, February 17 – 3:00 p.m. at The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre

Saturday, February 18 – 1:00 p.m. at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre (If Necessary)