One of the most talented players to have suited up for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, Tatiana Rafter continues her career as one of the increasing number of Canadian star players to join the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).
Along with Mercyhurst alum Shelby Bram, the two were signed on the same day by the Buffalo Beauts, their fourth and fifth signings this off-season.
Although Rafter and Bram represented a great pair of Manitoba-raised hockey heroes that could have provided the CWHL’s Calgary Inferno with great strides in their Clarkson Cup ambitions. Instead, they join Laurier alum Dawn Skeats, fresh off a scoring title in the EWHL, as Canadian stars ready to propel the Beauts towards the inaugural Isobel Cup.
Under the tutelage of elite coach Graham Thomas, Rafter became a game changer for the Thunderbirds, ushering in a new era of unprecedented glory for the program. Of note, Rafter was a key contributor to the Thunderbirds qualifying for the 2013 Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships, part of the greatest single season turnaround in Canada West conference history.
Recognized with the first of her two Canada West Second Team All-Star nods, she would end a memorable 2013 as a member of Canada’s gold-medal winning roster in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Universiade. She would finish the event as one of Canada’s leading scorers, logging 15 points.
Heading into the 2013-14 Canada West women’s hockey season, Rafter recorded 38 points on the strength of a conference-high 20 goals to grab the conference scoring title. Not only did her efforts contribute to UBC enjoying their first 20-win season in program history, it culminated with recognition as the recipient of the 2014 Canada West Player of the Year Award.
Among some of the notable players that she competed with at UBC were the likes of international sports stars such as Amanda Asay and Danielle Dube. A two-sport star, Asay was a member of the Canadian women’s baseball team that captured the silver medal in the inaugural women’s baseball event held at the 2015 Pan American Games. Dube was also a part of Canadian women’s sporting history, competing in the first-ever women’s ice hockey tournament at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games.
Joined on the Beauts by the likes of two-time Winter Games silver medalist Brianne McLaughlin, there will be no shortage of star players that Rafter will call new teammates. Having contributed to the greatest chapter in UBC hockey history, the chance to make history with the incipient NWHL is one that she could not resist. Graduating with 116 points, plus a Second Team Canada West All-Star nod in 2015, Rafter is ready to continue her high scoring ways with the Beauts, while giving back to the community with charitable work.