Breakthrough weekend for Bemidji State backstop Hannah Hogenson


After stopping a league-high 85 shots over the weekend, Bemidji State University women’s hockey goaltender Hannah Hogenson was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Goaltender of the Week. This weekly accolade is the sophomores first league honor of her career.

Hogenson turned aside 85-of-93 shots in the Beavers’ series with No. 3 University of Minnesota for a .914 save percentage. She began the weekend by stopping a career-high 52 shots in Friday’s 5-2 loss versus the Gophers. She then stopped 33-of-36 shots in Saturday’s 3-2 loss.

University of Wisconsin’s Makenna Webster was named the league’s Forward of the Week while Ohio State University’s Sophie Jaques was named the Defender of the Week and University of St. Thomas’ Nicole Vallario was named the Rookie of the Week.

Bemidji State continues league play this weekend and will travel to the nation’s top ranked team in Wisconsin for a pair of games, Saturday-Sunday.

Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooden region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, BSU sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).

Kristie Elliott kicks her way into football history


Simon Fraser University football team kicker Kristie Elliott, has broken new ground for women in college sports. The 21-year-old booted a pair of successful conversions against Oregon’s Linfield University on Sept. 11, becoming the first Canadian woman to play in — and score in — an NCAA football game. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Kicker Kristie Elliott is used to walking into the locker room backwards.

As the lone woman on Simon Fraser University’s football team, Elliott knows her male teammates could be in various states of undress and she’s found the unique entrance acts as a bit of a warning.

“I don’t want to see anything,” she said with a laugh.

It’s taken some adaptations, but Elliott has broken new ground for women in college sports. The 21-year-old booted a pair of successful conversions against Oregon’s Linfield University on Sept. 11, becoming the first Canadian woman to play in — and score in — an NCAA football game.

The milestone was “kind of overwhelming,” said the fourth-year psychology major.

“I’m just going out there, playing football, doing something that I love to do,” she said. “I just love the game of football and I’m just proud of myself that I got to go out there and play my first game.”

Elliott’s love of the game is relatively recent.It started in 2019 when she bet an SFU football player $40 that she could kick a 40-yard field goal. Elliott was athletic, a hurdler on the university’s track and field team and a longtime soccer player, but she’d never kicked a football before.

Inexperience didn’t stop her from trying, though, and, while Elliott said it wasn’t pretty, she made the kick and sent the football player video evidence of her achievement.

Soon, she was getting messages from other guys from the team encouraging her to try out. Eventually she got in touch with the head coach, who told her she had potential.”I said `Coach, I don’t know anything about football. I’ve never even seen a full game, I can’t tell you any rules. I know what a touchdown is, that’s pretty much it,”‘ Elliott said.

After some reassurance, Elliott hired a kicking coach and started studying the game. Then she headed to training camp.

The first team meeting was a “very intimidating experience.”

“I walk in there and heads turn and everyone was looking at me,” she said. “I remember some of the guys saying they thought I was the team trainer. I got asked if I was a teammate’s girlfriend.”

Elliott made the team in 2019 but struggled mentally because she was new to the sport. She didn’t play a game that season.

“I felt like I had a lot of pressure on myself and like I had to prove something to myself because I was on the team,” she said.

Paula Findlay back on top of podium with win at Ironman Oceanside


After a tough summer and fall dealing with injuries, Canada’s Paula Findlay made a triumphant return to racing today with a huge win at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, dominating on the bike and posting solid swim and run splits to hold off Great Britain’s Emma Pallant-Browne and South Africa’s Jeanni Metzler.

Guam’s Manami Iijima led the women out of the water, a couple of seconds up on Metzler and 25 seconds ahead of Findlay. Pallant would hit T1 1:34 down in eighth, while popular super-mom Mirinda Carfrae continued her comeback to racing hitting T1 in ninth, 4:12 down.

Once on the bike, though, the race quickly became the Paula Findlay show as the Canadian used her cycling talents to pull clear of the rest of the field. Through 60 km she was over four-minutes ahead of Metzler and Pallant-Browne and would extend that lead to over six minutes by the end of the bike. Pallant-Browne and Metzler have both had very ambitious race schedules this fall, compared to Findlay, who competed at the Collins Cup in August but has been sidelined for much of the summer and fall with injuries. Pallant-Browne would make a charge towards the front through the first half of the run, but was still almost four minutes back as she started the second half of the run. Metzler, who had run her way to a silver medal at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship earlier this year, wasn’t able to stick with her British rival and never gained time on the Canadian leader.

Findlay would pace her half-marathon perfectly, easily holding off Pallant-Browne for a big win, running a 1:21:43 half-marathon to finish the day in 4:14:05. Pallant-Browne would post the days fastest run (1:17:34) to take second in 4:16:16, while Metzler would round out the podium, crossing the line in 4:20:53.

Karina Leblanc lands GM position with Portland Thorns


Head of women’s soccer for CONCACAF and former Portland Thorns goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc has been named as the team’s new general manager, replacing Gavin Wilkinson. He was placed on administrative leave by the Thorns in the wake of sexual harassment and coercion allegations made against former coach Paul Riley.

LeBlanc will step down from her role in CONCACAF to focus on her new general manager position.

Speaking to The Associated Press, she said she spoke to the players at the club and felt she could make a difference.

“I felt that this was the right move based on their [the players at the club] response, because I think it’s time that everyone understands that this is a moment in time where we pause, we learn, we realize what we can do better, and then we connect and then we rise,” she said.

“And that’s how I’m looking at it. It’s a time for us all to connect and rise. And I get to do that knowing what it’s like to sit on the other side and playing for the club and now knowing with all my years of experience in CONCACAF and doing a lot of things at the global level, I see a bigger picture.”

LeBlanc was goalkeeper for the Thorns in the 2013 season, when the team won the inaugural NWSL championship. She went on to play for two seasons with the Chicago Red Stars.

“I came back because for me, it’s an opportunity,” she said. “I will never forget my year playing at this club. I’ll never forget how the community made me feel. I’ll never forget what it felt to put that jersey on, and have the crest on your heart. I will never forget the moments that people don’t even know about, with my teammates. And it was one of those things when I got traded away, I was just like, `You know what? I’m going to come back.'”

LeBlanc also made 110 appearances for the Canada national team between 1998 and 2015. She has served in her role with CONCACAF since 2018.

The Thorns won the NWSL Shield this season for the league’s best regular-season record. Portland has a bye for the first round of the playoffs, which start this weekend.

Touch of class by Chicago Transit Authority in recognizing WNBA champs


CHICAGO — The reigning WNBA champions will be honored with specially-designed Chicago Sky trains. 

The rail cars will feature the Sky’s signature yellow and blue colors. After 16 seasons, the Chicago Sky enjoy the glow of a WNBA Championship rally 

Starting Monday, the train cars will run on the CTA Green Line, where they’ll pass Wintrust Arena, the Sky’s home court and site of where they clinched the WNBA championship this year. 

It’s not the first time CTA has created unique designs for its rail cars. The transit agency previously honored the World Series Champion Chicago White Sox in 2005 and again in 2016.

UNB Reds victorious in Hockey For Everyone Pride Game


The UNB REDS scored early and often on Saturday, beating the visiting Mount Allison Mounties 8-0.

“It’s pretty big, especially the way the season’s been going and that we have some big goals ahead of us,” said veteran REDS forward Myah Bowal (Terrace, BC), who scored a pair of goals and added two assists in the win. “Just knowing that we beat a team 8-0 just brings positive energy moving forward.”

The lopsided victory came 24 hours after the REDS first loss of the season in regulation, on Friday.

The REDS wasted little time taking control of the game, with Sage McElroy-Scott (Morden, MB) scoring a power-play goal at the 3:02 mark of the first period.

The two teams settled into a bit of a back and forth until UNB converted another power-play opportunity with just 1:04 left in the period. Ashley Stratton‘s (Mount Pearl, NL) goal gave UNB a 2-0 lead.

26 seconds later, UNB went up 3-0 when Talli Warren (Mundleville, NB) scored her first Atlantic University Sport goal.

The offense continued to roll in the second period.

Lily George (Garden Village, ON) made it 4-0 for the home team 4:15 in, and Melanie Drost (Nepean, ON) made it 5-0 at 5:07, a second chance opportunity after Stratton missed from close range.

Drost’s goal chased Mounties’ starting netminder Hanna Pagdato (Winnipeg, MB) from the next. Kaitlyn Evelyn (Courtice, ON) took over.

The REDS added three more in the third period, including Bowal’s pair and another from Emma Giordano (Ancaster, ON).

Cassie McCallum made 10 saves to earn the shut-out.

Bowal was named Subway Player of the Game.

“I talked to my line before the third and we were kind of excited to go into the third knowing that we were up 5-0 and things just went our way,” she said.

Frederike Cyr (Candiac, QC) registered four assists and Jenna MacLean (Wilcox, SK) contributed three.

“We really just worked as a team and we worked hard, we were having fun, we were finding each other,” said Cyr. “We were doing the little things that we were missing yesterday.”

Mounties’ head coach Lucrece O’Neal was succinct when she emerged from the team’s dressing room following her post-game address.

“I was a little lost for words today, I’m not going to lie. We’ve got some work to do and I hope they’re ready to do it,” she said quietly. “I think you just have to be patient and take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You can’t just look at the scoreboard, but it’s a tough one.”

With the win, the REDS return to the top of the AUS standings with a 6-1-0-1 record, while the Mounties are now 1-7-0-0.

Up next for the Mounties, a Thursday evening date, in Halifax, with the Saint Mary’s Huskies.

Strong leadership defines new GMs in PHF season


The Metropolitan Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League today announced that Anya Packer has been named the club’s new General Manager. Packer, who most recently served as Executive Director of the NWHL Players Association, succeeds Kate Annis, who will take over as Director of Operations for W Hockey Partners.

“We are making these important changes to strengthen our organizations heading into the NWHL’s seventh season,” said WHP President Andy Scurto. “Anya and Kate are highly capable, dynamic professionals and I look forward to working closely with them both.”

Packer will oversee daily operations for the Riveters with responsibilities in both team and player management. The former Connecticut Whale defender will also work on the business side to grow team partnerships particularly with sponsors such as NJ Lottery and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. She was recently named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for sports having fought to increase the league’s salary cap by 50% and negotiated the first 50/50 revenue share benefit which resulted in a 30% salary increase per player during her leading tenure with the NWHLPA.

“My time with the Players Association will be one that I cherish,” said Packer. “Alongside my player reps we have driven real and sustainable change with year-over-year increases to salary and benefits. I know that the direction the NWHLPA is going will continue to provide an outstanding platform for our professional athletes. As I transition into this new role, I aim to strengthen one of the NWHL’s best brands. The Metropolitan Riveters organization is a powerhouse on the ice, and I look forward to the exciting horizons ahead!”

Annis will be responsible for overseeing the four NWHL organizations owned and operated by WHP including the Riveters, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, and Minnesota Whitecaps with a focus on building top-performing teams. She served as Assistant Coach for the Riveters during the 2018-19 season and was named General Manager prior to the 2019-20 season.

“I am thrilled to join W Hockey Partners,” said Annis. “I loved my time at the Riveters and look forward to continuing to grow the game for women and girls through W Hockey Partners in our four markets and beyond.”

Both Packer and Annis will transition into their new roles immediately in preparation for the NWHL’s seventh season in 2021-22.


The Boston Pride today announced the appointment of Danielle (Solari) Larouco, a stand-out forward and former assistant coach at Brown University, to the role of General Manager of the 2021 National Women’s Hockey League champions.

“I have known Danielle for a long time; from playing club hockey together to watching her dominate at Brown and participate in National camps,” said Colleen Coyne, President of the Pride. “She has always been someone who can balance hard work with levity and perspective. Her hockey knowledge and experience coupled with her business acumen is the perfect mix for this position. I can’t wait to work with her.”

Larouco, a native of Rockland, Massachusetts joins the Pride with an impressive and wide-ranging hockey career. She ranks 4th among All-time Leading Scorers at Brown University with 169 points in 94 games. A two-time Captain (‘96 & ‘97) and Assistant Captain (‘95), she was twice named an ECAC Division 1 All-Star. Larouco was also a participant at the 1997 USA Olympic Development Camp from which the 1998 Olympic Women’s Hockey Team was selected. She then returned to Brown for two seasons behind the bench (‘98 – ‘00) serving as an Assistant Coach for the Bears.

To complement her playing and coaching experience, Larouco brings over a decade of business management and operations experience, the bulk of which was spent at Canton, MA-based Adidas Group (Reebok International, Ltd.) where she worked closely with C-suite executives on a variety of global initiatives. Since departing the corporate world, Danielle has held leadership roles with the South Shore Eagles (President), the Bay State Hockey League (Owner/Director), and The Bog Ice Arena & Rockland Ice Rink (GM of Business Operations & Development).

“I am very excited to be named the General Manager of the Boston Pride and join this great group of players and staff,” Larouco said. “I look forward to continuing to propel the women’s game forward with the excellence the players bring to the ice every day as well as providing great game-day experiences to our fans. The dedication and perseverance of this talented group of professional athletes we have is second to none and I am excited to bring that momentum into the upcoming season.”

In her role as GM, Larouco will oversee staff and player personnel as well as team and community events. She will work closely with Coyne, Head Coach Paul Mara, and his coaching and support staff to expand and deepen community connections and continue the winning tradition of the Pride.

Tremendous trio from Pimicikamak starring in university hockey


The odds are stacked against any kid in Pimicikamak who laces up their skates and dreams of the big leagues.

In an northern Manitoba community like theirs, also called Cross Lake First Nation, there are no scouts frequenting their games or state-of-the-art off-ice training facilities calling their names.

And yet three lifelong friends from the community more than 500 kilometres north of Winnipeg — Saige McKay, Carrigan Umpherville and Kennesha Miswaggon — have all carved an unlikely path into elite, collegiate-level hockey, making them role models for not only female players but also Indigenous players.

The young women began their post-secondary hockey careers this fall, just months after Brady Keeper put Pimicikamak on the map by becoming the first person from the community to play in the NHL.

Back home, people are asking Saige’s mother, Anna McKay, how their own daughters can play against the best. 

“We told them the first thing they have to do is move away from home, unfortunately,” the high school principal said.

A dream realized

McKay and Umpherville are rookies with the women’s hockey team at Long Island University, on the outskirts of New York City; Miswaggon plays with the University of British Columbia. 

McKay didn’t grow up thinking that high-level hockey was in the cards for her. She says it’s still hard to believe sometimes.

In her first season with Long Island University, Umpherville, No. 22, is leading her team in points, with seven goals and nine assists through 17 games. (Alan J Schaefer/Long Island University)

“I enjoy it so much,” she said, hours after she landed back in Manitoba for a holiday visit. “I love living in New York City. I think it’s crazy — it’s honestly a dream come true.”

They sacrificed a lot to get where they are. The girls grew up playing on boys’ teams. They’d travel hours each way to get to their games.

They got their break when they headed “down south,” as McKay puts it, to southern Manitoba. A scout noticed McKay and Umpherville and recruited them to play for the Boston Shamrocks of the Junior Women’s Hockey League.

“We had to move in order to get recognized,” Umpherville says of her winding path to college.

She and McKay returned to Manitoba after one season in Boston to play for Pilot Mound Hockey Academy in 2018-19.

They were then recruited to Long Island for the college team’s inaugural season. They play in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association — the NCAA’s highest level of hockey in the U.S.

Bond still strong

Miswaggon, now 18, also left home, playing three years of high school hockey with Balmoral Hall School in Winnipeg. She now controls the blue line for the UBC Thunderbirds.

“I didn’t expect to come this far growing up, coming from a small community,” Miswaggon told in an interview published earlier this month.

“You don’t expect to get an opportunity, so just having my best friends go out to the States and me to the West Coast, it’s really crazy.”

Even with Miswaggon separated geographically from her friends, the trio say their bond won’t waver.

Miswaggon and McKay planned to get tattoos during the Christmas break that say “No Matter Where” — a testament to their friendship. McKay and Umpherville — both 17 years old — already have matching shamrock tattoos on their forearms from their time in Boston.

After three high school seasons with Balmoral Hall, Miswaggon started playing for the UBC Thunderbirds this past fall. The defender had tallied four points by the mid-season break. (Rich Lam/UBC Athletics)

“We’ve been best friends since Grade 3,” McKay said of Umpherville. “It’s really nice to have my best friend with me at university.”

McKay had five points with the Sharks this season before the Christmas break. She was named a top defender in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League last year.

Umpherville is already Long Island’s leading scorer, with seven goals and nine assists. Last season, the forward led Pilot Mound in scoring.

Tragedy to triumph

The trio’s on-ice adventures are the talk of town. They helped run a hockey camp while home over the holidays. 

“They just look amazed every time they see us on the ice,” Umpherville said of the community’s support. 

“People say they are really proud of us. And they tell us to keep going.”

Their hockey performances are changing the way their community sees itself.

It wasn’t long ago that Pimicikamak, a community of about 6,000, declared a state of emergency after six suicides over a two-month period, and 140 attempts in two weeks alone.

At the time, in 2016, First Nations representatives, politicians and experts all said the community was seriously lacking in resources and opportunities for young people, leaving many to despair of their futures.

McKay’s mother, Anna, says it meant a lot to the kids when Keeper — an undrafted defenceman — played his first game with the NHL’s Florida Panthers in March. 

They swelled with pride again when McKay, Umpherville and Miswaggon were showcased on the NHL’s website.

Umpherville and McKay got matching tattoos in honour of their year in Massachusetts, where they played for the Boston Shamrocks of the Junior Women’s Hockey League. (Ian Froese/CBC)

“They had it posted all over the school.… That’s how proud they are of them,” said Anna McKay.

“The message they send is ‘You can be anything you want,’ and that’s what I encourage the students [to believe].”

The three players are taking the responsibility of being role models to other young girls, as well as other Indigenous hockey players, to heart. They hope to keep playing high-level hockey for years to come.

“I’m obviously trying to help young players as much as I can, and hopefully they follow in my footsteps,” Umpherville said.

Sophie Grawbarger builds on Jana Headrick’s legacy with Varsity Blues hockey


As one university hockey player from Garden River First Nation graduates, another from the community will join the same team, continuing the legacy. 

Jana Headrick is halfway through her fourth and final year of her undergraduate studies and plays on the University of Toronto’s Varsity Blues women’s hockey team. She is hoping to pursue graduate studies in public health.

She’s been playing hockey since she was three years old. Her father, a hockey player himself, signed her up. 

Headrick said she didn’t enjoy the sport at first.

“I think I just wanted to be in dance or figure skating or something more girly,” she said.

But her father pushed her to stay committed until she was 10 before making a decision to stay or leave. By the time she was 10, she was in love with the sport and the team she was on.

“I was playing on an all-girls team so I had a whole lot of friends and I liked that better than when I was playing when I was younger.”

Jana Headrick has been playing hockey since she was three. (Submitted by Jana Headrick)

Years later she was offered an athletic scholarship with the University of Toronto to play on the Varsity Blues women’s hockey team. That has provided her with the opportunity to travel and compete. 

“The challenge at the level that I’m playing at now, it’s definitely one of the reasons why I do it,” she said. 

But her commitment to the team and university wasn’t without its challenges. 

Between adjusting to university life and being away from home, to balancing classes and trying to figure out her role on the team, the first year was a difficult one for Headrick. 

She persevered, and is now in her final year on the team. During her four years she has been the only First Nations girl on the team.

Headrick said Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is “definitely a hockey community,” and has produced players like former NHL player Ted Nolan and his sons Brandon and Jordan. 

“There’s always words of encouragement from everyone back home and they’re really happy that we’re being successful,” she said.

So it’s not surprising that as Headrick is ready to move on from the U of T team, another girl from her community will be playing on the team next year. 

Excited for university

Sophie Grawbarger was five when her father signed her up to play hockey and she wasn’t sure if she would like it. 

“I stuck with it and just kept playing over the years and fell in love with the game,” said Grawbarger. 

“It came easy, it’s so fun and it brings me a lot of good experiences like travelling.”

Sophie Grawbarger of Garden River says she is looking forward to playing hockey at the University of Toronto. (Submitted by Jessica Grawbarger)

She was offered an athletic scholarship to U of T and immediately said yes. 

“It was amazing because it showed that all my hard work and dedication paid off and I’m able to continue my hockey career,” said Grawbarger. 

She plans on studying history and Indigenous studies. She said she’s excited to see what it’s like to live alone in a big city. 

Since sharing her plans to move to Toronto and play with the Varsity Blues, Grawbarger says she’s been receiving lots of support from Garden River.

“Everyone is proud of me and they’re looking forward to what I do in Toronto,” she said. 

“I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life and being able to play on a really competitive team at a high level.”

Sophie Grawbarger has been playing hockey since she was five. (Submitted by Jessica Grawbarger)

As Grawbarger gets ready to leave Garden River for school, Headrick had a few words of advice for her.

“Be patient with everything that goes on in hockey, and it’ll take a while to find your role, but once you have it, stick with it .And create little support systems in Toronto,” she said. 

“Enjoy your time while you’re here because it’s definitely something really exciting and really amazing to be able to experience.”