Jess Leclerc making her mark as a highly accomplished official

At the tender age of 12, Leclerc was already garbed in the referee’s stripes, earning $10 a game as a youth hockey official. Following in the footsteps of her father, Alain, also a long-time official, Jess has carved her own remarkable legacy. Raised in Augusta, Maine, she reached a revered pinnacle, part of a group of 19 women (including four Americans) serving as officials at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. As the 2018 Games composed a new and historic chapter in the legacy of female hockey, from a shootout deciding a gold medal, an exhilarating first, to the Unified Korean team enjoying their Olympic debut, Leclerc enjoyed the opportunity to participate in two of Korea’s contests, including their historic first appearance. In addition, she was also part of the officiating crew when Randi Griffin scored Korea’s first-ever Olympic goal, achieving the feat versus Japan’s Akane Konishi in a 4-1 loss.

Wrapping up her duties with the bronze medal game between Finland and the Olympic Athletes of Russia, part of a crew that included fellow American Dina Allen, plus Canadian officials Justine Todd and Gabrielle Ariano-Lortie. With a lifetime of memories were made during an absolutely career-defining experience, reflections on this fascinating time are a constant source of satistfaction and attainment,

“The Olympics were incredible. It certainly was an experience that I will never forget. I was extremely fortunate to be able to work some very historic and memorable games (such as) the first Unified Korean game, their game against Japan when they scored their 1st goal, and the Bronze medal game. From the opening ceremonies to watching the incredible gold medal game between USA and Canada, it was an experience that has had lasting impressions on me.” Officiating ran parallel to Leclerc’s solid playing career, as some weekends would include a balance of both. Whether it was mornings in the role of referee, following by an evening match with her club team, her playing resume includes Deerfield Academy, one season in the powder blue of the University of Maine Black Bears, where she studied Kinesiology and Physical Education. Followed by competition with Utica College, Leclerc enjoyed two seasons (2007-09) as team captain, where she specialized in their Therapeutic Recreation program. In three seasons spent as a member of the Pioneers, playing for head coach Dave Clausen, Leclerc also earned All-Conference honors thrice.

Amassing a respectable 36 points while never missing a game, enjoying 79 appearances, Leclerc was also a two-sport star, playing for the varsity lacrosse team. As her career milestones have involved a degree of commendable coverage on the part of the college, the Utica connection remains a highly strong point of pride,

“The best part about playing at Utica, other than my teammates and coaches, was that I was able to be a student, an athlete (I also played lax), and a college student. I was able to continue to officiate through college as well.

Utica helped me to balance all of my passions. It meant a lot for them to continue to follow my officiating career. Officiating is not something that is directly linked to my Utica experience and so it was nice for them to acknowledge the success of an alumni in an area not linked to a degree.”

Obtaining her international license as a linesman, Leclerc gained the opportunity to officiate the 2015 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championships in Buffalo, signifying an incredible leap forward in her career evolution. Among the most notable games she worked at the event involved the fifth place game between Finland and Sweden, joined by Canadian Jennifer McMahon and British official Deana Cuglietta as Anni Keisala recorded 12 saves in a 3-0 shutout win for the Finns. Currently, Leclerc’s remarkable schedule can involve working in 15-20 games during an average month, taking to the ice in both Maine and Massachusetts. While her slate of games covers a wide breadth, including high school and NCAA Division III competition, including working at men’s games, the fact that she has also been adding lustre to her growing legacy, along with female professional hockey. The linkage to professional hockey is one that even saw Leclerc cross over into the realm of the NHL. With a series of milestones over the last two years involving all-female officiating crews at the 2019 NCAA Frozen Four and at an event part of the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend festivities, one of the most fascinating elements of Leclerc’s officiating jersey involved attending the 2019 NHL officiating combine at Buffalo’s Harbor Center. “The NHL combine was a great experience. It gave us an opportunity of not only where we stood amongst some very talented officials but also showed that gender really did not matter. The experience helped to show that women could compete amongst the men and it was a matter of the job done on the ice.”

With standing as the State Referee in Chief for the state of Maine, Leclerc is also a member of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, its induction taking place at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium. As many young women and former players now view officiating as a viable option after hanging up their skates, such individuals have a great role model in Leclerc, who truly merits the well-earned title of role model,

“Yes, I absolutely see myself as a role model. Being a role model has been one of the most gratifying parts of my officiating career. My advice is to continue to work hard to follow any dream you have despite the mountains you have to climb. Do not ever let gender be a reason why you cannot do something.”

All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated

Exciting milestone for Carleton Ravens great Tawnya Guindon

Written by USPORTS

TORONTO – Eighteen former student-athletes were announced Thursday as inaugural participants in the U SPORTS Female Apprenticeship Coaching Program.

Funded through Sport Canada, the new program aims to increase the number of females in coaching positions across Canadian universities, by matching apprentice coaches who have recently graduated, with a mentor coach in one of the 11 U SPORTS-sanctioned sport offerings for women.

“We’re excited to officially launch the Female Apprentice Coaching Program,” said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, Chief Sport Officer at U SPORTS. “As we all tackle the unprecedented challenges currently facing Canadian sport, this initiative will open new doors and provide the tools for success to recent alumnae, who aspire to become coaches themselves in the near future. We appreciate the support of our partners at Sport Canada for helping us make those dreams a reality.”

The 18 inaugural participants were selected from a total of 26 applications, and collectively represent eight of the 11 sports – soccer, cross country, track and field, hockey, basketball, volleyball, swimming and wrestling – as well as all four U SPORTS member conferences. Each apprentice coach competed in varsity sport over the past decade, with nine having previously gone on to assistant coaching roles either with their own university athletic program, or at another U SPORTS member institution.

The selection committee itself also included equal conference representation, featuring one member from Canada West (CW), Ontario University Athletics (OUA), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) and Atlantic University Sport (AUS).

All participants in the program will be a member of the coaching staff at their respective schools. Where possible, they will take part in team practices and games or meets at both the conference and national levels. Each apprentice coach will also attend at least one National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) professional development activity, while also providing support in areas such as student-athlete skill development, offering pre-game, in-game and post-game feedback, and assisting with recruitment, video analysis, statistics, scouting and academic mentorship and supervision. Job duties may vary due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding can also be used towards additional professional development courses and seminars in the field of coaching. The first year of the program officially runs until Apr. 30, with Sport Canada funding already committed as well for the 2021-22 edition.

Kimberly Sass among compelling role models in current landscape of PWHPA

A multi-talented individual whose proficiency between the pipes is only part of a much more profound narrative, the remarkable career of Kimberly Sass involves a cerebral component that is equally fascinating. Distinguished by her trademark round glasses, balancing hockey with an occupation as an Architectural Designer, capable of excelling at both, incorporating the values of practice and preparation in fields that are both highly detail-oriented, Sass embodies the facets of achievement and empowerment, qualities that have established her as an admired competitor in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA).

Having also added the title of entrepreneur, establishing a coaching-based enterprise dubbed 1335 Goaltending, featured current PWHPA goaltenders, and former Metropolitan Riveters teammates, Katie Fitzgerald and Sarah Bryant. Enhancing her status as a true renaissance woman, Sass, who majored in studio art and geography at Colgate University, continues to display her visual proficiencies.

With a creative vision that has involved fascinating social media posts for her ETSY shop, Rusted Tower Design, she was also renowned for her ability to create emojis during her time with the Riveters. Emulating Keith Kinkaid, a backstop with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, whose tweets, consisting of numerous emojis, gained him a degree of acclaim, Sass’ efforts held the potential to create a strong connection between the two franchises. Undeniably, the result was a tremendous bonding experience with the Riveters fan base, adding an exciting new dimension to the franchise’s footprint on social media.

Additionally, Sass added a new dimension to her own impact on social media, participating in a highly stimulating thread, discussing the concept of professional athletes and brand sponsorship. The result was a pleasant surprise, as Sass issued a tweet geared toward Heinz ketchup, who actually provided a response, mentioning how the name of the university she competed at held the unique connection to another highly revered brand name, Colgate. With ketchup representing a favorite condiment with her staple foods, her creativity resulted in a video, including a very creative hashtag: #NothingGetsBeHeinzMe.

Raised in Western New York, the product of East Amherst, Sass, who also tried figure skating as a youth, followed in her father’s footsteps and stood between the pipes. Starring with the Buffalo Bisons as a teenager, she would remain in her home state to pursue her NCAA career. Making the journey approximately 200 miles east of Buffalo, past Syracuse, aligned with the Colgate Raiders, she quickly impressed. As a freshman, Sass set the program record, (since broken), for most wins in a season with 14, while pacing the ECAC Conference with a .941 save percentage.

Following such a fantastic campaign, Sass enjoyed a tremendous haul of hockey hardware, amassing the ECAC Goaltender of the Year, ECAC First Team, becoming the first Raiders goaltender to earn the honor, and ECAC All-Rookie Team honors. Additionally, she garnered the program’s Rookie of the Year Award.

With 93 games to her credit after four seasons in Raiders paraphernalia, Sass garnered three ECAC All-Academic honors, demonstrating the perseverance and character required to succeed as a student-athlete. Fittingly, Sass’ career with the Raiders involved a pair of highly prestigious honors. Including the Don Palmateer Award, given in recognition by the Center Ice Club to a Raiders player who combined values such as leadership and inspiration resulted in a profound and positive impact on the women’s hockey program. Complemented by the Marian LeFevre Coach’s Award, a prize that truly commemorates a career which demonstrated a remarkable attitude and dedication to the program, such honors cemented the status of the celebrated Sass as an icon in Raiders lore.

Becoming the seventh player in program history to compete in the professional ranks, joining the likes of Tara French, Mallory Johnston, Kate Wolgemuth, Kiira Dosdall, Samantha Hunt and Evan Minnick, Sass earned a master’s degree in architecture at the University at Buffalo.

Photo credit: Jeff Rider

Fittingly, the Queen City would mark Sass’ return to hockey, enjoying three seasons of professional hockey. Returning to her Western New York roots by signing with the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts, where she served in a back-up capacity to Brianne McLaughlin, she followed it up by a pair of seasons with the Metropolitan Riveters franchise. Highlighted by the prestige of winning the Isobel Cup in 2018, an historic first for the Riveters, Sass also called fellow Raiders alum Kiira Dosdall as her teammate.

Adorned in a Riveters’ championship ball cap, Sass with the Isobel Cup (Image obtained from facebook)

Sass’ final season with the Riveters (2018-19) proved to be her finest. Appearing in 12 games, part of a crowded goaltending picture which included Katie Fitzgerald, who led the team with 15 appearances between the pipes, along with second year backstop Sarah Bryant and Russian-born rookie Maria Sokorina, Sass would also partake in the postseason, marking her final appearance with the franchise.

Before Sass’ career in the NWHL reached its conclusion, there was one more milestone accentuating her time there. Named a co-recipient of the NWHL Foundation Award, recognizing one player from each franchise as role models in the game, demonstrating a dedication to betterment in the community, it was an honor shared alongside the likes of Connecticut’s Sarah Hughson, Buffalo’s Kelly Babstock, Minnesota’s Hannah Brandt and Boston’s Mallory Souliotis.

Embarking on a new chapter for the 2019-20 season, Sass was among a compelling gathering of gregarious group of superlative goaltending talent involved with the Professional Women’s Hockey Player’s Association (PWHPA). Including the likes of fellow backstops Katie Burt, Lauren Dahm, Kassidy Sauve, Emerance Maschmeyer and Alex Rigsby, among others, Sass, classified as a Tri-State Player, established herself as part of a remarkable movement in sporting equality dedicated towards positively transforming the game’s status, while heralding an emboldened new era involving a living wage.

Also a significant part of Sass’ focus involves her place on the PWHPA’s Board. With standing as a representative for non-national team (NNT) players, Sass holds a highly significant role, as the vast majority of competitors in the professional game hold such status. Taking into account how NNT players are the true backbone of the game, possessing a significant talent and enthusiasm for the game, a difficult reality is the fact that said players also work second jobs, the game sometimes a secondary priority due to financial obligations.

While the goal has long been allowing players an opportunity to transition from the collegiate to the professional ranks without the concern of a second job, a plight that plagued many men’s professional sports leagues for more than half of the 20th Century, wages not reaching lucrative amounts until the 1970s and 80s. Sass certainly ponders the future with optimism, hoping that she can be part of overcoming this next major challenge for the game.

”I am honored to have been selected for the PWHPA Board! As a player with multiple careers myself, I take pride in being able to advocate for those who have found themselves in this position of having multiple jobs to support hockey. I enjoy the opportunity to make Professional Women’s Hockey a better place for NNT players and those players currently with second jobs, but with the end goal of having players earn a livable wage so that they can progress straight from college into professional hockey. I think we will all be ecstatic the day that a college graduate player secures a livable wage in her next season in a truly professional league.”

Having first appeared at the Dunkin’ Showcase in Hudson, New Hampshire, the first American stop on the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour, Sass played with Team Stecklein, its nomenclature recognizing team captain Lee Stecklein. With an offseason filled with worry for many players, the opportunity to return to the ice brought with it a feeling of euphoria, providing an aspect of relief that helped evaporate any tensions or concerns, replaced by a jovial innocence within the parameters of the frozen surface.

With Team Stecklein enjoying a 6-3 victory over Team Flanagan in their opening game, Sauvé, like Sass, also competed in the ECAC, leading the Clarkson Golden Knights to the 2019 NCAA Frozen Four, gained the start in the championship game. Backstopping Team Stecklein to a highly thrilling 5-4 decision over Team Knight, Sass enjoyed the milestone of the first PWHPA Showcase championship on American soil.

”It was great to be back on the ice after an off season of A LOT of planning, and thrilling to take part in the first Showcase event. I played in the first game, and our team, Team Stecklein, ended up the champions of the weekend! It was amazing to play with/against players that were not in my college/professional league. The energy was great as we all were excited to kick of the season of spreading the PWHPA mission.”

Before the complexion of the sporting realm was drastically altered due to a devastating pandemic, the essence of competing in the PWHPA was poised to take on a global impact. Earlier in the season, the Korean national women’s team faced off against a group of PWHPA players in Montreal.

Scheduled to reciprocate, as the PWHPA was to cross the Pacific and grace the ice in Japan, intending to ice a team to challenge their national team, one that qualified for the 2018 Winter Games, Sass was named to the contingent of PWHPA players. Although the event would have raised the international profile of the Association, growing concerns over the pandemic resulted in a visceral cancellation.

In spite of the devastating decision, the fact that Sass was part of the group named to play in Japan represented a proud highlight of her inaugural season of PWHPA hockey. Just as revelant was the treasured chance to play at Madison Square Garden, one of the world’s most famous sporting venues. Taking into account that the venue never hosted professional women’s hockey, the brush with history represented a fascinating hallmark in Sass’ athletic journey.

“Being selected to represent the PWHPA overseas, as well as at such a historic and professional facility like MSG are opportunities of a lifetime. I believe in our goal of creating a sustainable professional league with a livable wage and am happy to spread the word through my play and presence!”

Before participating in the Dunkin’ Showcase, Sass enjoyed another thrilling milestone, setting the tone for the season to come. Named as an AAAS IF/Then Ambassador for her work in the STEM field, which reflects an educational approach encompassing both, academic ideas with real-world scenarios. Utilizing academic disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics as learning tools, such fields paint a picture filled with breadth, blending classroom and business situations in a melange poised to reach professional growth.

Featured in a video series for Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Sass enjoyed a degree of celebrity status appearing on the CBS television show, Mission Unstoppable. Targeted for an audience of young girls, the episode profiled Sass’ double occupations, from empowering employment as an Architectural Designer, to breaking barriers in hockey.

Balancing a Career in Architecture & Hockey | Mission Unstoppable

Kimberly Sass is a fierce professional women’s hockey goalie… but she’s also a skilled architectural designer. Learn more about her exciting double life. M…

Gaining the opportunity to share the red carpet with the likes of actresses Geena Davis and Miranda Cosgrove as part of a screening of Mission Unstoppable in Los Angeles, which also saw Sass participate in a panel afterwards. Worth noting, Davis holds her own unique connection to sport as her acting resume includes a starring role in the 1992 film “A League of their Own.” Directed by Penny Marshall, the film paid homage to the All-America Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), whose formation filled a sporting gap in World War II. Founded in 1943, an All-Star Game was not only held at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, the league, which eventually featured 15 different teams, persevered until 1954.

With the PWHPA representing a new chapter for women in sport, building on the legacies of the AAGPBL, Women’s National Basketball Association and other leagues, the opportunity for Sass to be featured in Mission Unstoppable represented more than a crossover into popular culture. Allowing a landmark moment for women’s hockey during the 2019-20 season, the red carpet treatment served as a defining moment, spurring the feeling of accomplishment, simultaneously generating the encouragement that the game continues to be on a winning path.

“The opportunity to meet Geena Davis and Miranda Cosgrove came about when I was selected as an IF/THEN Ambassador and simultaneously casted for the CBS TV show called Mission Unstoppable. The IF/THEN Ambassadorship is a STEM initiative through Lyda Hill Philanthropies which aims to increase visibility of women in STEM careers.

Mission Unstoppable is produced by Litton Entertainment in collaboration with Lyda Hill Philanthropies’ IF/THEN initiative. The Executive Producers are Geena Davis along with the host of the show, Miranda Cosgrove. The show features real life female STEM role models with the targeted audience of middle school girls. I am featured in an episode about my job as an Architectural Designer and a Professional Goaltender, where I discuss ice rink design and take to the ice!

I was selected to fly out to L.A. to the premiere screening of the show, where I was able to meet Geena Davis and Miranda Cosgrove, watch my episode on the big screen, and speak on a panel afterwards. It was both surreal and empowering to be included in photos with both of those stars. I think women are fighting a similar visibility/inclusion battle in both STEM and sports, and it was satisfying to see celebrities recognize this and advocate for us!”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”


Lasting legacy established by Emily Lambert with Norwich Cadets

A highly reliable goaltender hailing from the talent-rich state of Michigan, Emily Lambert left a lasting impression in three terrific seasons with the Norwich University Cadets. Part of a roster also featuring 2020 Laura Hurd Award winner Amanda Conway, Lambert, whose trademark checkerboard goalie pads are among the sharpest, and most colorful in collegiate hockey, contributed to a sensational season for the proud program, culminating in its fourth consecutive New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) conference championship.

Contributing with her own series of exemplary achievements, Lambert enjoyed a respectable 7-2-0 record, complemented by a solid 1.30 goals against average. Part of a goaltending unit which featured Alexa Berg and Kate Winstanley, her season debut took place on November 16, 2019, logging a remarkable 30 saves in a 4-1 victory versus the Trinity Bantams, allowing the Cadets their fourth straight win of the season.

Improving her career totals to a 26-6-1 mark by the end of her third season, while recording an astounding four shutouts, it allowed Lambert to climb to sixth overall in program history with 11 career shutouts. Of note, Lambert’s last shutout of 2019-20 took place on February 1, 2020. Needing only eight saves in a 5-0 blanking of the Johnson and Wales Wildcats in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Conway would record two goals and an assist, surpassing former Cadets star, and first-year head coach, Sophie Leclerc, for second overall in program scoring history.

There was certainly a unique tinge of coincidence in the fact that Lambert’s last appearance of the season took place versus Johnson and Wales two weeks later. With the February 15 affair occurring on home ice in Northfield, Vermont, she recorded 18 saves, part of a great team effort that resulted in an astounding 12 Cadets logging at least one point in the victory, as Samantha Benoit led the way with five assists.

Undeniably, one of Lambert’s greatest highlights as a Cadet involved the acquisition of hockey hardware during a memorable 2018-19 campaign, including the 2019 New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Goalie of the Year Award, becoming the first player in Cadets history to ascend to such prestige.

The honor accentuated a sophomore season that involved a superlative 14-5-1 won-loss mark, highlighted by an incredible seven shutouts. Worth noting, the final shutout that season represented the game of her life. Blanking Castleton in a 6-0 win on March 2, 2019, it marked the third straight conference championship for the Cadets, and their ninth in program history, simultaneously qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.

Reflecting on the monumental milestones during such a season, Lambert’s humility and commendable devotion to her team stand out. Acknowledging how her achievements resulted in contributions from all her teammates, such an outlook demonstrates the type of model teammate that has defined her legacy at Norwich.

“I think achieving major milestones just goes to show how important teamwork and reliability are. A goalie is nothing without the players in front of him/her and a team is incomplete in this game without a goalie. These titles show that working together as a team, we were on top of our all-around game, both defensively and offensively.”

Equally admirable throughout Lambert’s journey at Norwich involved the proficiency displayed in the classroom. Graduating in merely three years, recording an impressive 4.0 Grade Point Average while double majoring in International Business and Spanish, the rewards for such remarkable labors were truly plentiful. Recognized as one of the university’s Scholar Athletes of the Year for 2020, shining just as well in the classroom as on the ice.

Along with membership in prestigious honor societies such as Delta Mu Delta and Sigma Delta Pi honor societies, Lambert has also displayed a remarkable preparation towards her post-playing career. Having successfully enjoyed internships with the Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation, plus the Henry Ford Corporation. Perhaps more impressive is her highly philosophical approach to life after sport, demonstrating an exceptional maturity which resonates,

“It is extremely important to perform just as well in the classroom as it is on the ice because while we are in school to play hockey, we are also in school to get an education and start a career path. Unfortunately, hockey ends eventually, and no matter the reason, when that does happen, it is important to have another path to take. Performing well academically sets one up for success outside of the athletic world, so that when sports are no longer the main focus, one’s first thought is not ‘now what’?”

Following it up with acclaim as a CoSIDA Academic All-American First Team selection, becoming only the second Norwich women’s ice hockey player to gain CoSIDA honors, joining Julie Fortier (2012), such an achievement stands as one of Lambert’s greatest hallmarks. Having also enjoyed the prestige of a national championship as a freshman, when the Cadets defeated perennial contender Elmira by a 2-1 mark in the Finals, there is a strong feeling of having arrived full circle. Undeniably, Lambert’s combined body of work, in the classroom and on the ice, has propelled her into both, role model status and program icon.

Encompassing the positive impact that student-athletes can bring to campus life, acknowledging the responsibility and commitment required to balance both preparation for on-ice performance and the necessary study time, a significant factor in excelling stemmed from the encouragement of the coaching staff. With a staff that includes the highly celebrated Leclerc, a member of the 2020 Cadets Hall of Fame, who stepped into the role of head coach after Mark Bolding, bringing her own Cadets career full circle, after spending time as an assistant coach with Colgate University, her presence provides a sense of empathy and understanding, allowing the players to cultivate a confidence that translates effectively in all facets.

“I am proud of this achievement because as every student athlete knows, it takes a lot of hard work to balance out practice schedules and class schedules. However, I am way prouder of how much emphasis the coaches and team put on the importance of doing well in school. The Norwich Women’s Ice Hockey culture is extremely supportive of players/teammates both on and off the ice, which translates into academic and athletic success for all of us.”

Lambert between the pipes with her checkerboard goalie pads (Photo credit: Nate LePage)

Beyond competition at the rink, Lambert has also enriched her Cadets career by adding the revered standing of Hockey Humanitarian. Serving as an extension of her strong leadership and teamwork skills, combining elements of compassion and sincerity, Lambert graciously gave her time, geared towards improving the quality of life for others in the community.

Among the most cherished causes for Lambert involved volunteering for the Wheels for Warmth annual fundraising event. Founded by Phil Scott in 2005, the fundraiser, which has raised in excess of $400,000, accepts donations of unused tires. Geared towards assisting families based in the Central Vermont area who require heating throughout the winter months, the combination of tire sales, recycling and other initiatives has represented a win-win, assisting low income individuals, while reducing landfill.

“It is super important to give back to the community, especially since the community in Northfield and central Vermont in general is so supportive of Norwich Athletics. It is a way to show our appreciation for them. Moreover, there is more to life than hockey, and I feel that a big part of existing within a community is helping out those around you in any way that you can.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Kori Cheverie continues to impress with ground-breaking season

Having assembled a sterling career filled with remarkable achievements, the 2019-20 season represented a series of new summits for Kori Cheverie. Achieving three celebrated coaching milestones during said season, Cheverie has become more than a rising star in the coaching ranks. Carving a special place in Canadian hockey history, she has reached an iconic status, extending a sterling career that has included excellence on the ice.

Among Cheverie’s monumental milestones in 2019-20, an All Saints Day matchup on November 1, 2019 tilt versus the Laurentian Voyageurs resulted in a highly compelling happening. With head coach Johnny Duca serving a one-game suspension, Cheverie ascended into a groundbreaking position. Placed into the role of the acting head coach for the contest, it made her the first woman to serve in this capacity in USports men’s ice hockey.

At 16:41 of the first period, the Rams would enjoy the first goal of the game as team captain Matt Mistele found the back of the net against Voyaguers backstop Mackenzie Savard, capitalizing on a power play opportunity as Cole Peck was called for hooking. As the second period saw Ryerson outshoot the Voyageurs by a 12-6 mark, they extended their lead in this historic contest. Holden Cook, a fifth year player, found the back of the net at the 7:49 mark. Proving to be the game-winning goal, Patrick Fellows, an OHL champion with the Erie Otters in 2017, and Hayden McCool registered the assists. As a side note, both Cook and McCool hail from Whitby, located east of Toronto.

Coincidentally, Cook holds a unique connection to Cheverie as both played in the Atlantic University Sport conference. Cheverie, a three-time recipient of the AUS version of the Marion Hilliard Award, starred with St. Mary’s University, where she was also a two-time Female Athlete of the Year amd captain in her final season, while McCool competed for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men, capturing conference championships in 2016 and 2017. Adding to theme of coincidence was the fascinating fact that Lisa Haley, who serves as the head coach of Ryerson’s women’s ice hockey program since its inception, had been in the same capacity at St. Mary’s when Cheverie played there.

Although the third period saw Zach Wilkie spoil the shutout bid of Garrett Forest, a second year competitor who calls Ashburn, Virgina, an eventual 2-1 final accentuated Cheverie’s unique place in Canadian hockey history. Becoming the first female head coach to win a contest in USPORTS men’s ice hockey, there was a highly understable flood of emotion heading into such an historic affair. Reflecting on the milestone, Cheverie also emphasizes the bigger picture, acknowledging the program’s progression.

“Our program took a lot of steps forward as a group this season. Although we fell short at the end of the season, we learned a lot this year. In terms of the game, it was fun/scary/exciting being in the middle of the bench for a game without the leadership of our head coach. At the end of the day, we won as a group. It definitely was not a pretty win, but our group was resilient and always fights hard until the end.”

Initially joining the Ryerson Rams coaching staff in 2016, Cheverie, whose tremendous body of work in hockey also includes hoisting the covetered Clarkson Cup as a player with the Toronto Furies in 2014, having appeared in 168 career games for the franchise, is quickly gaining renown for an exciting new chapter in her hockey odyssey. Becoming the first to serve as a full-time female assistant on a men’s team in Canadian university hockey, Cheverie joined the likes of basketball icons Becky Hammons, a coach with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, plus fellow Canadian Tamara Tatham on the G-League’s RAPTORS 905 staff in breaking barriers.

Accentuating this remarkable movement includes Dawn Baird, a skating coach with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, plus Kathryn Smith and Callie Brownson with the Buffalo Bills. In 2020, Katie Sowers, a member of the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff that qualified for Super Bowl LIV, became the first female coach and openly gay coach to participate in such an event. Just a few months later, Alyssa Nakken joined the San Francisco Giants baseball club, becoming the first full-time female coach in the history of Major League Baseball.

Running parallel to Cheverie’s commendable efforts at Ryerson has included a highly positive impact as a coach in the female hockey ranks. Having served in such a capacity with the Scarborough Sharks organization, working with the Midget AA team alongside Meagan Boyle and Karolina Urban, among others, it rekindled earlier memories. Worth noting, Cheverie spent the 2009-10 season as an assistant coach in her home province of Nova Scotia, working with the competitive Metro Boston Pizza program of the Nova Scotia Female Midget Hockey League, before embarking on her sojourn as a professional player.

Developing great acumen and vision as a coach, Cheverie added a pair of other remarkable achievements to her coaching resume, enriching a landmark 2019-20. Cheverie’s standing as role model certainly took on new relevance. In addition to her responsibilities with Ryerson, she experienced the milestone of leading the dynastic Team Ontario Red at the 2019 Under-18 National Women’s Championships. Serving on Cheverie’s coaching staff included Teresa Hutchinson York Teresa earned Hockey Canada’s BFL Female Coach of the Year award in 2019-20 and Margaret Jennings, Team Ontario’s coaching staff at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Additionally, Cherie Piper, a Winter Games gold medalst and former competitor at the CWHL level, served in the capacity of team manager.

Dominating towards a fifth consecutive gold medal, Team Ontario Red’s star studded roster which featured six players from the PWHL’s Etobicoke Dolphins, including blueliner Sarah Campbell and Olivia Wallin, who both scored in the championship game. The roster also included another unique CWHL connection, as Nicole Gosling, the younger cousin of Katelyn, whose career consisted of a Golden Path Trophy with the University of Western Ontario Mustangs and a Clarkson Cup with the Calgary Inferno, helped anchor Ontario Red’s blueline corps.

Between the pipes, the duo of Michelle Pasiechnyk and Kayle Osborne, both from Canada’s capilta region, collaborated for the best goals against average of any team, boasting a cumulative total of 1.60. Gainign the start in the gold medal game versus Saskatchewan, whom they bested by a 4-2 mark in the preliminary round, Osborne required only 17 saves, while opposing goaltender Arden Kliewer of Team Saskatchewan supplied a very valiant effort with a respectable 32 saves. Campbell recorded a goal and an assist, and Grace Nelles and Olivia Wallin each placed their name on the score sheet during the second stanza, as Ontario Red prevailed by a 3-1 tally

No stranger to tournament play, having skated for Team Atlantic at the Esso Women’s Natioanls thrice (2005, 2007, 2008) during her teens, Cheverie, the product of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, was certainly accustomed to the high stakes atmosphere that encompasses such events. Just as prevalent involved a key philosophy in her approach with Team Ontario Red, including a mature yet humble reflection on her roots, putting an emphasis on her highly talented team to maintain its focus through commitment,

“Working with a talented group of players and coaches with Team Ontario was awesome. Being from Nova Scotia, I grew up playing against Team Ontario and it always such a great opportunity to compete against talented players. My motto with Team Ontario was to “have the work ethic of a small province, but have the confidence of a big province” and the team really bought into that.

Team Saskatchewan was a great opponent, lots of great players coming out of that province. We had a special group of players who really wanted to win and put in the effort into every time the team was together – practice, meetings, team building, and games.”

The gold medal won actually bookended a highly rewarding 2019 for a jubilant Cheverie. Of note, the year began with another gold. Joined by Courtney Birchard-Kessel and Vicki Bendus, both former CWHL competitors with the Brampton Thunder, they were part of the Canadian coaching staff led by the legendary Howie Draper at the 2019 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championships in Obihiro, Japan. Considering that the Canadian contingent emerged with a heartbreaking bronze medal one year prior, compounded by the fact that the program’s last goal was in 2014, the sense of mission and national pride took on greater relevance.

Akin to so many other gold medal clashes between Canada and the United States, the 2019 edition of the IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds would require overtime to determine a winner. Undeniably, January 13 would become a memorable date for Maddi Wheeler, a star on her club team, the PWHL’s Nepean Wildcats, scored the overtime winner, providing Canada with a highly satistfying goal medal that ended a five-year long drought. Defeating the US by a 3-2 mark, as Danielle Serdachny and Anne Cherkowski also added their names on the scoresheet, it marked a tremendous moment in Canadian U18 program history, providing Cheverie with an experience that will result in a lifetime of memories, simultaneously obtaining tremendous personal and professional growth in her fascinating evolution from player to coach.

“Being an assistant coach with Team Canada U18 was one of my proudest moments as a coach. The staff was absolutely incredible. We worked so well together, there was so much trust and professionalism in that group. When we won gold, after the immediate celebration, I face timed my family members and it was such a joyous moment. I worked my whole life to win gold with Hockey Canada, I always thought it would be as a player but being a coach was just as rewarding.”

Certainly, the experience rekindled Cheverie’s own memories of international play. Skating for a group of USPORTS All-Stars that represented Canada at the 2009 International University Sports Federation (FISU) Winter Universiade in Harbin, China, it represented a significant step forward in the game’s evolution. Marking the first time that women’s ice hockey was contested at the Universiade, Cheverie and her fellow Canadians emerged with the gold medal, adding another glorious chapter to Canada’s fabled hockey lore.

Additionally, Cheverie left her mark with an historic feat, assisting on the first-ever Canadian goal scored in event history. With Canada enjoying an 11-0 win against Great Britain to open the tournament, fellow AUS All-Star Brayden Ferguson found the back of the net at the 9:46 mark of the first period. Also recording an assist on the landmark goal was Annie Del Guidice, with the puck headed for a hallowed place at the IIHF Hall of Fame. Worth noting, other scorers in the game included Vanessa (Vinny) Davidson, Cathy Chartrand and Kelsey Webster, all future Clarkson Cup champions.

Fast forward to February 2020, and Cheverie enjoyed another opportunity to be part of a proud group of Canadian participants. Joining Alison Domenico and Hockey Hall of Famer Danielle Goyette on Troy Ryan’s coaching staff for the Rivalry Series between Canada and USA. A warm-up for the eventual IIHF Women’s World Championships, the event not only saw Natalie Spooner, a former teammate of Cheverie’s on the Toronto Furies don the Canadian jersey, two of the three games in the Series were played on NHL ice.

As a side note, Cheverie is no stranger to being in an NHL environment, as the Mattamy Sports Centre (known colloquially as the MAC), home of the Rams’ men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, are located inside Maple Leaf Gardens. With Vancouver, British Columbia, plus Anaheim, California, home of the Canucks and Ducks clubs, serving among the host cities for the Series, Cheverie, who has worked in various coaching capacities for Hockey Canada since 2017 reached a new apex, enjoying the opportunity to be part of the Senior Team.

As the unfortunate impact of a pandemic saw the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championships, scheduled to be in Truro and Halifax, Nova Scotia, shelved, the Rivalry Series, won by the United States, the event proved to be the most important hockey played for these two hockey powers.

Pondering the future with an emphasis on collaboration, looking to redefine boundaries and create new possibilities, Cheverie’s standing as pionner and role model have enhanced her career, one defined by encouragement and empowerment, destined to inspire the next generation to build on her expanding legacy.

“Ryerson, Hockey Canada and my minor hockey coaching experience has prepared me for everything I have learned to date in my coaching career. I have had guidance, opportunity, and have been empowered to teach and lead amazing athletes. I have learned just as much from my athletes as they have learned from me.

I feel like my diverse experience working on the men’s and women’s side has made my coaching approach very well rounded. When I stop and think about everything I have been a part of and all of the people who have helped me along the way, I am so grateful. The relationships, the teams, the organizations I have worked with is what continues to shape my philosophy as a coach. There is always something to learn and take away from every opportunity.

There are so many women who have continued working on the men’s side of sport after their playing careers. We need to continue to grow that number so that I am not a statistic. I want little girls to grow up knowing they can achieve anything they want. I want them to feel like they can hoist the Stanley Cup if they want to. The key is that men and women have to work together to develop, educate, and propel both young women and men into positions that are ‘typically held by men’.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Hockey Humanitarian Award an amazing honor for Amanda Conger

Among the most inspiring and wonderful stories of the 2019-20 hockey season, perhaps none tug at the heartstrings more than the remarkable journey of Amanda Conger. Belonging to the Saint Anselm Hawks senior class, with the captain’s C adorning her jersey, Conger’s standing as both, impact player and hockey hero, took on greater meaning. Raised in Swanton, Vermont, where she starred with Rice Memorial before donning Hawks colors, a highly compelling offseason placed the talented forward into an exciting realm of admiration and commendable character.

During the offseason, Conger gained a place in the hearts and minds of the St. Anselm Community by giving the gift of life. An act that embodied bravery and kindness, she graciously donated her kidney. With a community-wide search required in order to find a match for Cameron Ouellette, afflicted with Stage Five Kidney Disease, it became a defining moment for Conger.

Discovering that she was a compatible match, Conger made the very gallant decision to become a donor, allowing a grateful Ouellette an opportunity for a new life. Worth noting, she found the inspiration from her older brother, who actually donated bone marrow four years earlier.

Such a show of compassion, demonstrating remarkable spirit, Conger’s display of character would extend beyond the donation and the recovery. To a casual observer of the game, understandably, the fact that Conger was able to recover and return for competitive play in 2019-20, was nothing short of miraculous.

Entering the season, Conger already had tremendous momentum. Having earned the honor of the Most Outstanding Player Award at the 2019 NEWHA Tournament, complementing the honor of a place on the All-NEWHA Second Team, it already placed Conger into an honored place in program lore.

Taking into account that Conger had already made the decision to donate her kidney, the tournament brought with a degree of urgency and importance. Discussing how the last few games remaining as the tournament progressed could signify her final games in Hawks colors, as the time required for recovery from such a procedure could not be anticipated. Indubitably, it provided a sense of motivation, amplifying the feeling of high impact such contests held on her own fascinating hockey odyssey.

Delivering on all accounts, it marked a cherished pinnacle for the gregarious Conger. Gaining the recognition of the Outstanding Player Award, showered with praise, it provided Conger with a tremendous feeling of possible, yet glorious closure. Contented in the remarkable effort exerted, the event held the potential to be the high point of her career. Instead, it proved to be prologue for the game, and season, of her life.

“Being named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 NEWHA Tournament is placed pretty high on my memories of being a Hawk on the Hilltop. In the semi-final and final game of my 2019 season, I was already in the process of giving my kidney. I was told if I continue and the procedure takes place there is a high chance (that) I would not be able to play my senior year.

I believe I ended on such a high note because to take from the above question, I played these two games as if they were my last hockey games I could ever play. I wanted to end my hockey career on a high note, so I played with everything I had, and I was so thankful at the end of it to be named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 NEWHA Tournament.”

Returning to the ice in an October 4-5, 2019, weekend series at Post University, it signified a tremendous personal victory for a courageous and commendable Conger. Although she did not gain any points versus the Hawks, racking up a +1 in each contest, her presence was nothing short of uplifting for her Hawks teammates, finding a combination of strength and encouragement, a series sweep saw the squad prevail by a cumulative score of 11-2.

Fittingly, Conger would gain the well-deserved opportunity to skate in the starting lineup in the Hawks home opener, part of an October 18-19 weekend filled with plenty of emotion versus visiting Sacred Heart. Gaining the assist on a second period goal by Kelly Golini of a hard-fought 2-1 loss on October 19, it signified Conger’s first point of the season, demonstrating a defining moment in her senior season.

Merely six days later, an October 25 affair provided a unique coincidence. Hosting the Post Hawks, Conger, once again placed into the starting lineup enjoy her first goal of the season. Capitalizing on a power paly opportunity in the first period, as Gabby Monaco earned the assist; it also proved to be the game-winning tally in a 6-0 final, allowing her two proud milestones with one goal. Worth noting, goaltender Caroline Kukas enjoyed her first win, complemented by the First Star of the Game Award.

November would emerge as a breakthrough month for Conger. Enjoying a four-game scoring streak, spanning from November 2-15, it also saw the high-flying Hawks boasted an undefeated mark. Highlighted by a 10-0 road win versus the Salem State Vikings, which was part of their Military Appreciation Night festivities, Conger would record four assists, tying with Katie Meehan for a game-high four-point effort. As a side note, Katie Guay, who would be one of the officials during the 2020 NHL Elite Women’s 3-on-3 Showcase in St. Louis, served as the referee in the 10-0 final.

The month would also see Conger and her fellow Hawks enjoy a taste of professional hockey, competing in a November 9 exhibition versus the NWHL’s Connecticut Whale in Manchester, New Hampshire. Conger would emerge as an impact player, assisting on a third period goal by Kenadie Cooper, which gave the Hawks their first lead of the game, enjoying a 3-2 advantage. Although the Whale would tie the game at 3-apiece, the Hawks’ Haley Marshall would score unassisted with only 12 seconds remaining to win the game, subsequently earning the First Star of the Game Award.

In a season that culminated with Conger gracing the ice in a remarkable 32 games, also reaching a career high in points, such an impressive display of dedication and perseverance was a source of awe and wonder among teammates and opponents alike. Discussing the recovery and the preparation needed to return to the ice following the medical procedure, she attributes a philosophical approach as a key factor in her empowering path. Gaining a newfound appreciation for life, while living in the moment, absorbing all its sights and sounds, placing an important premium on the beauty of every single day, simultaneously bringing a highly infectious energy to the rink,

“What I believed helped me to find success on the ice was I tried to play every game as if it was my last. After having my surgery, it really helped put a lot in perspective of how lucky we are to be healthy every single day and that could be taken away at any moment. Every game I just tried to push myself and play in the moment as if it was my last game I would ever play.”

Remarkable Women: Meet Amanda Conger

Fittingly, the season allowed Conger to return to her capacity of serving as team captain for the second straight season. Sharing in leadership duties among the likes of … and …, comprising a distinguished group, it was an achievement that signified a proud career highlight, accentuating her standing as a program cornerstone.

Also enjoying the treasured milestone of Senior Night, Conger, part of a Class that included Kaley Campbell, Jamie Gottwald, Michaela Kane, Megan Klaus and Haley Marshall, were celebrated on February 15 in Manchester, New Hampshire, prior to a contest versus Long Island University. Accentuating another stellar achievement, which saw Conger graduate as the Hawks all-time leader in games played with 114.

Setting the record with her 110th game, the landmark event took place on February 7, 2020 versus the Sacred Heart Pioneers at the Rinks in Shelton. Surpassing former teammate Jackie Guy, a member of the Hawks Class of 2018, the contest also saw fellow seniors Kaley Campbell and Megan Klaus take to the ice for their 107th appearance in Hawks colors. Although Conger’s eventual final game as a Hawk took place in the postseason, facing off against Long Island Univeristy in the NEWHA Champiuonship Game on February 23, 2020, the feat versus Sacred Heart was part of a much richer and unique narrative, as the achievement of skating with the Hawks during a full season marked a heroic comeback.

“Setting the program record for most games played was something I never could have imagine if you told me going into my freshman year. When I was told (that) I was only five games away from breaking the record I could not believe it. It allowed me to reflect back on my four years of playing for Coach Matthews and to remember the seasons with my old teammates.

Being named a Captain both my Junior and Senior year was very special to me. The feeling of being chosen by your teammates who want you to lead and be the liaison between the team and coaching staff is incredible. I am thankful that my teammates saw potential in myself and helped me grown and learn what it means to be a great leader.”

The aftermath of the season allowed for numerous precious accolades, serving as the exclamation mark to a magical time. Placing Conger in a celebrated status in St. Anselm athletics history, the honour of the Hockey Humanitarian Award ascended her towards a mythical place.

In addition, Conger gained further acclaim with Saint Anselm’s prestigious Donna M. Guimont Service Leadership and Engagement Award. With both honors, adding to a splendid haul of hockey hardware, including the 2020 All-NEWHA Sportswomanship Team, joined by teammates Megan Klaus and Katy Meehan, the Charles J. Quinn Sportsmanship Award, plus the privilege of recognition on the Saint Anselm Dean’s List for Spring. Undeniably, each subsequent achievement not only burnished a legacy destined to grow greater with time, such triumphant touches brought a more profound meaning to a glorious season that seemed in doubt just a few months prior.

“When I found out I was the recipient for the Hockey Humanitarian Award I was in shock. I never could have imagined a little over a year ago making a donation would have changed my life as much as it did. Needless to say, I was extremely honored to receive such a prestigious award. I never wanted as much recognition as I have received for making my donation, although I now embrace it and use its multiple platforms to spread awareness and importance of organ donation.

To follow up and receive the Donna M. Guimont Service Leadership and Engagement Award was also an incredible honor. Out of the many other amazing students at Saint Anselm who dedicate so much of themselves and their time to the community, I was extremely honored to be recognized as the recipient of the Donna M. Guimont Award.”


“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Ailish Forfar’s “The Dream Gap” documentary a declaration of the game’s hopes

While a key focus of the PWHPA has involved, understandably, the players and the collaborative goal of heralding a golden age for the game, the feeling of teamwork is certainly just as impactful off the ice. Such an impact goes beyond the number of dedicated volunteers and sponsors. The definition took on a more profound meaning, enhanced by a highly creative visual production, representing an amazing assembly of talent by the affable Ailish Forfar that put its finger on the pulse of the raison d’etre of the PWHPA.

Through her academic obligations, working towards completing her studies in Ryerson Sport Media, it served as the portal, which provided Forfar with a creative vision to engage in a film project that would incorporate her appreciation of hockey, stimulating a sense of mission to raise awareness about the PWHPA and its collective goals. Dubbed “The Dream Gap”, the title paid homage to a key staple of the PWHPA’s first year of events, as a barnstorming tour throughout North America also featured the same name.

Realizing the concept in late summer, Forfar saw the potential to incorporate the best of both worlds. With the current state of professional women’s ice hockey in a type of somnambulism, there was a strong sense of inspiration to provide a visual narrative. Finding a heightened sense of purpose, it was a project perfectly suited to bring out Forfar’s passion for the game. Preserving the persistence among those in the game that is poised to stand as a template for future generations to emulate.

“The Dream Gap film/project was my final practicum for Ryerson Sport Media – the four year program I have officially just graduated from (virtually!). I was working with some classmates who I had formed a great relationship with over the years and had similar interests in covering women’s hockey stories. So I pitched the idea to them late August before classes started up to do something on the new PWHPA movement as I was joining and was personally motivated to help tell our story.

It was a perfect meshing of my academic and athletic passions. With the access I would have as a player/teammate to the PWHPA, and with my classmates’ incredible skill sets, I knew we would be able to create a really meaningful and personal project that would help tell our story.”

Having called the likes of Erin Ambrose and Laura Stacey as teammates with the PWHL’s Toronto Jr. Aeros, Forfar later starred at the Ivy League level with the Dartmouth College Big Green, playing alongside Stacey once again. Forfar’s university odyssey would conclude with a tribute to her Greater Toronto Area roots, skating with the Ryerson Rams, whose home ice at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, based inside the former Maple Leaf Gardens, helped maintain a proud hockey legacy in the city.

Serving as team captain of the burgeoning program, excelling under the tutelage of Lisa Haley, enjoying the prestige of a First-Team OUA All-Star, complemented by the privilege of wearing the Maple Leaf at the Winter Universiade, Forfar’s skills and acumen for the game established her as a top prospect for the professional ranks.

Selected by the defending Clarkson Cup champion Markham Thunder with the ninth pick of the 2018 CWHL Draft, a team that serendipitously featured Stacey on its roster, Forfar remained associated with the Rams program following her eligibility as a player. Serving dutifully as a member of Haley’s coaching staff; the experience ran parallel to her inaugural season of professional hockey, marking a highly eventful time for the product of Sharon, Ontario.

Although Forfar’s first season with the Thunder proved to be the last in franchise history, she remained highly occupied during 2019-20, as the path taken was one spurred by a highly unforeseen announcement. As the Thunder no longer had a league to play in, the franchise thrust into stasis, the result was a shift in focus.

Maintaining her role on the Rams coaching staff, Forfar provided a welcome presence. As an alumnus not far removed from her glory days in Rams colours, she combined elements of empathy and friendship, providing an approach that maintained her proud legacy as one of the program’s finest leaders.

With a highly talented roster featuring Kryshandra (Krash) Green, who followed Forfar’s example by serving as team captain, Lauren Nicholson and Erica Crouse led the team in scoring with 26 and 25 points each. The season culminated with a sweep of the Brock Badgers in the opening round of the McCaw Cup playoffs as former OUA All-Rookie selection Brooklyn Gemmill scored the series-clinching goal. Enjoying their first-ever semi-final victory, as Nicholson logged the game-winner in a 3-2 opening game triumph against cross-town rival Toronto Lady Blues. Although the program was unable to reach the McCaw Cup Finals, the transfers of Laurier’s Jamie Watson and All-Canadian Annie Berg are poised to ensure that the run of momentum continues.

Worth noting, Forfar’s duties during a highly eventful, yet exciting, time involved another unique endeavor. While engaged in her studies through the Ryerson Sport Media curriculum, Forfar also established a remarkable online presence as a reporter for Yahoo Sports, covering NHL hockey with a highly entertaining weekly program during the 2019-20 NHL season. Currently working with Steve Dangle on NHL Chatroom, which debuted during the 2020 NHL Playoffs, Forfar’s on-air proficiency was evident two years prior. At the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, Forfar was an online video blogger for Samsung. Additionally, Forfar contributed a written piece to Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Hooked on Hockey prior to enrolling at Dartmouth, demonstrating a positive attitude and a profound maturity that would serve her well.

In committing herself to the project of “The Dream Gap”, such values were highly evident, as it also resulted in Forfar accepting her competitive limitations. Sacrificing a season of play, withdrawing from any PWHPA exhibition games, the focus of the documentary allowed her to maintain a heartfelt association with hockey, a highly satisfying facet. Indubitably, the sense of teamwork that encompassed Forfar’s on-ice career remained essential behind the lens. Fittingly, Forfar would find a muse in a former Thunder teammate.

Liz Knox, the franchise’s all-time winningest goaltender, was a member of the PWHPA’s Board during the filming of the documentary. In addition, a volunteer firefighter in the town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, which includes footage during the documentary with Knox in uniform, she graciously stepped down from the Board in September 2020 to allow Sarah Nurse a place. Remaining in the capacity of advisor, her reputation for strong leadership and revered standing as a model teammate shined through during Forfar’s labours. Among the interview subjects, Knox’s highly articulate and poignant insights added significantly to the documentary’s tone.

“My teammates were supportive of this idea and appreciative of the fact I would have to cut back on my involvement on the ice. I was balancing being a full time student at Ryerson, a part time coach with the Ryerson Women’s Hockey team, all while having a full time job as a Reporter and On-Air host at Yahoo Sports covering the NHL. I basically knew by September, I could not add in 2-3 practices a week in the evenings up in Markham, plus games/travel on weekends with all of that, while also producing the documentary for my program.

The decision to step off the ice and focus on this storytelling passion was necessary for my sanity too! Any teammates I reached out to for help were always so supportive, especially Liz Knox, who I frequently bothered. My Ryerson group had a great time working with the players and staff and helping tell this story and wish we could have had more time to do more (Ryerson semester only allowed us to complete the project from mid September – end of November for grades).”

Billie Jean King in the PWHPA jersey

As production ensued, Forfar’s passion and focus on strong production values were evident. Considering that a key aspect of the documentary would involve interview footage, she was determined to feature people of prominence, providing a sense of importance to the current state of affairs in the game, while enriching the compelling story unfolding. In addition to the aforementioned Knox, other iconic hockey figures that were interview subjects included Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford, also the all-time leading scorer in Thunder franchise history and current Operations Consultant of the PWHPA, along with Hilary Knight, a gold medalist from the 2018 Winter Games.

Of all the individuals that provided their commentary to the documentary, perhaps none held as much influence as the legendary Billie Jean King. Having become a household name in 1973, the same year that she founded the Women’s Tennis Association, when she opposed Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis challenge at the Houston Astrodome, she was also named Sports Illustrated’s Sportswoman of the Year in 1972. Also founding the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974, King’s effect not only extends beyond the hardcourt but also remains relevant to this day.

Determined to ensure a voice for women in sport, another aspect of King’s mission involves ensuring that female athletes know their value, embodying the sentiments shared by the PWHPA and the likes of Alex Morgan, who remains highly vocal in the US national women’s soccer team’s fight for pay equity. Considering how King’s influence has transcended generations, her presence in women’s ice hockey resulted in coverage from The Wall Street Journal and

Undeniably, the opportunity for King to appear in front of the camera and share her insights on the current mission of the PWHPA provided Forfar, who drove to Chicago with her colleagues, a tremendous feeling of achievement and validation. Decked out in the white jersey with sharp red and blue trim, also worn at the PWHPA Magellan Showcase in Chicago, of which Billie Jean King Enterprises also provided financing for the event, her vision for the future of the game involves three key pillars. An emphasis on ensuring women have a place to compete, gain appreciation for their accomplishments and earn a living wage. One of King’s comments in the documentary included the very well stated, ‘…we will no longer settle for crumbs.’

“I set our sights very high initially in the planning stages of production, knowing that big names and support from icons for women in sport would only help with the validity and storytelling of our documentary. Luckily, I knew Jayna (Hefford) personally from the CWHL and she was eager to help with our story and to help us get access to our players and others that supported the PWHPA’s movement. She was helpful in securing an interview with Billie Jean King in Chicago, which was one of the coolest career moments of my life so far.

Billie has lived through almost exactly what is happening right now with women’s hockey, and is a leader and an inspiration for most female athletes regardless of which sport you play. Interviewing her was one of the most inspirational conversations I have ever had; being able to see and feel her passion for equality and empowerment and to know that she was hearing our own wishes and our own vision was huge.

She is also a firecracker and hilarious and so generous with her time, and we could have talked for an hour and still wanted to hear more. I’m proud to have been able to pull that interview off – we drove to Chicago and back just to meet with her (all of this entire production was paid out of pocket by us, as students!).”

In conjunction with the PWHPA’s first event of 2020, a weekend affair spanning from January 11-12 in Toronto, highlighted by the Secret Showcase, featuring an unprecedented six teams, the Saturday night festivities included the first screening of The Dream Gap. Representing a major milestone for the assiduous Forfar, highlighting a new chapter in her hockey journey, a flood of emotion overtook her.

“The entire documentary screening night was definitely a blur of excitement, nervousness and high expectations – kind of like a hockey game – and one of the proudest nights of my life. We had two incredible panels before and after the documentary (audio is available on Homestand’s PuckTalk page) to provide context, to get the audience thinking and help bookend our story.

When the documentary started playing, I looked around the audience and saw a packed crowd fully engrossed into a project we had poured our heart and soul into, and I felt really proud of my entire team and everyone involved. After it ended, and the audience started clapping and standing on their feet… I had tears in my eye and a lump in my throat because I was overwhelmed with emotion, gratitude, exhaustion, excitement, relief and champagne.

The response after, the messages we received, the amount of people who wanted to see it again and show their friends, teammates, co-workers, families, and more, just proved that we had a story worth telling. Admittedly we are in talks to get it shown on TV very soon, but even if that does not work, we will keep trying to get it seen by many because we do believe that it is necessary to show and help that next generation understand what we are fighting for.”

Following the screening, Forfar hosted a Player’s Panel with the likes of Knight, Knox and Marie-Philip Poulin, whose golden goals at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games placed her in the same stratosphere of Canadian hockey mythology as Paul Henderson. Their collective presence was not only a source of great interest for the audience; it added a feeling of both, importance and endorsement for the documentary itself.

Sharing the common thread of having all played in the final CHWL season, Forfar and Knox aligned with the Thunder, while Knight and Poulin were garbed in the tri-colore of Les Canadiennes de Montreal, appearing in the last Clarkson Cup Finals. Definitely, the sense of mutual respect and shared love of the game set the tone for a fascinating discussion.

“It is always a weird feeling to just casually say that these legends are… my friends? I am so lucky, really, to know and be surrounded by such passionate, influential, bad-*ss women who are leaders in everything they do.”

Certainly, the Dream Gap documentary represents a …. With a tremendous admiration for the game and its players, Forfar’s focus

I respect all female hockey players, across all leagues, organizations and countries, for their dedication to a sport and a cause that often does not provide everything we desire, and frustrates us, exposes inequalities, and makes us question the future of that next generation.

Because without girls like these, or stories like ours, we will never move forward and make a change that will last. I am so proud to have started a conversation, to have sparked debate or helped new perspectives form. It is important to keep women’s sports in the spotlight, because we deserve to have people want to tell our story not only when it is convenient or when it is necessary, but always.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Megan Klaus a memorable competitor with Saint Anselm Hawks

Establishing herself as a highly dependable and reliable competitor for the St. Anselm Hawks women’s ice hockey program, Megan Klaus assembled an exemplary career accentuated by strong leadership. Enjoying a solid 113 appearances, complemented by 70 points, Klaus, a former competitor with the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, enjoyed a stellar haul of hockey hardware over the course of four fantastic season on the Hilltop.

Beginning with New England Hockey Conference All-Rookie Team honors in the aftermath of her 2016-17 freshman season, appearing in all 27 games, there was no sophomore slump for Klaus. With the Hawks part of the new-look New England Women’s Hockey Alliance (NEWHA), Klaus was its first-ever Player of the Week, bestowed the honor the week of October 24, 2017.

Recognized for her heroics during a weekend series against Sacred Heart, Klaus would score the overtime winner in their October 20 clash, giving goaltender Maddie Scavotto her first win of the season.

The following day, Klaus followed it up with a power play tally, contributing towards a sensational 4-0 shutout win. Worth noting, Scavotto would win the inaugural NEWHA Defensive Player of the Week Award.

Ending said season with a historic place on the first-ever All-NEWHA First Team, it was an honor that she would duplicate as a junior, earning a spot on the 2019 edition, respectively. Joining her on the 2018 edition of the First Team included Hawks teammates Kaitlyn Spillane and Katy Meehan, who was a co-recipient of the NEWHA Rookie of the Year.

During the 2017-18 season, Klaus would pace all blueliners in the NEWHA in scoring, with an impressive 23 points, on the strength of 18 assists. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that her 16 points on the power play ranked tops amongst all competitors in the conference. Klaus’ contributions proved to be essential for a Hawks team that captured the regular season crown by just one point over rival Holy Cross.

Finishing her Hawks career with All-NEWHA Second Team recognition, Klaus gained additional acclaim as a member of the Saint Anselm Spring Dean’s List. Donning the Hawks colors for 29 games in 2019-20, which saw the Hawks gain recognition as an NCAA Division I school, facing off against the likes of Princeton and Brown, Klaus’ versatility made her a valued asset on both offense and defense. Possessing a fundamentally sound game, Klaus showed strong consistency, while placing in the top 10 in scoring among NEWHA blueliners, amassing a highly respectable 14 points.

Accentuating her 2019-20 season, Klaus enjoyed the prestige of placement on the All-Sportswomanship Team. Taking into account that teammates Katy Meehan and Amanda Conger, who finished her collegiate career as the honoured recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award, also earned spots on said team, it provided Klaus with the feeling of a shared milestone, enhancing her body of work as a Hawk.

As the season ended with an appearance in the NEWHA Championship Game versus Long Island University, the honor stood as testament to the tremendous impact and positive attitude that Klaus brought to the rink, certainly setting the type of highly important example that freshman and sophomore players can emulate as they enter the latter halves of their Hawks careers.

“I would say our team does not always do the best at recognizing the things we do well. Since I stepped on campus four years ago, we have always had high standards for ourselves on and off of the ice. This season did not exactly go as planned, so to find out Katy, Amanda, and I were recognized, it reassures us that although the season may not have turned out how we wanted it to, our hard work and dedication did not go unrecognized.

To earn a spot on one of the all conference teams is always an honor and something I am proud of but to pair that with earning that spot next to two of my other extremely well deserving friends and teammates is even more special. I think all three of us would agree that even though we were the only three recognized with this honor, it would not have been possible without the support, hard work, and dedication of all of our other teammates and coaches. I know I would not be the player I was at the end of my career at Saint A’s without my teammates and coaches pushing me to be better every day.”

Among the most important dates of the hockey calendar for Klaus involved February 15, 2020, as Senior Night festivities commemorated her career, one that saw her skate with the likes of fellow seniors Kaley Campbell, Amanda Conger, Jamie Gottwald, Michaela Kane, and Haley Marshall. Although the result in Manchester, New Hampshire was a 4-2 loss versus Long Island University, fittingly, Campbell would score twice, as Klaus made her mark, recording two assists during a highly emotional event.

Over four fantastic seasons. Undeniably, one of the most memorable career highlights for Klaus took place on Senior Night, a rite of passage that not only celebrates careers reaching their completion, but an opportunity for all involved with the program to rejoice. With the event also resulting in an alumni game, the result was a spectacular outing that supplied the likable forward with a lifetime of memories.

“Senior night is always an emotional day, even for the younger players. I think it puts things into perspective for everyone, especially us seniors. Having the ability to play college hockey and even further, at a fantastic facility with remarkable staff members is something I will always cherish.

The memories I made in Sullivan Arena with my teammates will always be special to me but to notch two assists in my last regular season game, in Sullivan Arena, with my family and friends in the stands cheering me on is definitely something special that I will always treasure.”

Equally meaningful during Klaus’ senior season was one of the greatest offensive performances in program history. A February 18, 2020 affair versus Post saw Klaus record an absolutely scintillating four-goal performance. After Post scored the game’s opening goal, as Catherine Proulx placed her name on the scoresheet, the Hawks dominated the remainder of the contest.

With Katy Meehan tying the score at the 11:50 mark of the first, placing the puck past Jenna Baumgartner, Klaus scored less than four minutes later for her first of the game. With Kaley Campbell and Kelly Golini earning the assists, said goal proved to be the game-winner.

Scoring in all three periods, including a pair of power play tallies in the third, Klaus assembled one of the great performances in program history. Earning the First Star of the Game, while Amanda Nylander, who recorded three assists, and goaltender Michaela Kane, were named Second and Third Star, the bigger picture allowed the Hawks to advance to the conference semi-finals versus Franklin Pierce.

“That game will always be special to me because I was able to score 4 goals which is a bit uncommon, but also because my fourth goal was my last of my college career, maybe even my career ever.

We went down 1-0 in that game and I think that lit even more of a fire in my teammates and I. The goals I scored in that game were because of outstanding plays by my teammates. I may have been the one to put the puck in the back of the net but that would not have been possible without them. If it was not for fantastic passes and excellent screens, I would not have even had one goal, let alone four.”

On what she enjoyed most, and what she will miss most about playing for Saint Anselm,

“I enjoyed the entire journey Saint Anselm Women’s Hockey provided me. This program taught me numerous life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I also very much enjoyed the bonds and relationships that I made with my teammates and coaches. Enjoying something a significant amount also means that it will be something you miss a significant amount and that is why I will miss my teammates and just the game in general the most.

Every athlete will tell you that there’s a special bond between teammates and that’s true. They are the ones by your side every single day, at lifts and conditioning sessions, in the locker room, on the ice, in the dining hall, and if you’re lucky like me you’ll live with some of them too. They understand the athlete side of you and what it takes to get to that level. Having 29 strong women putting all of their efforts towards fighting for the same goal is something special and something I’m not sure I will ever have the chance of experiencing again.

Lastly, I will miss my classmates. My classmates were there for me since day 1 and have become my best friends. I will miss sharing everyday with them but I know at this point we are closer than we have ever been and I am so grateful for them and for Saint Anselm and of course my coach, Kerstin Matthews, for bringing them into my life.

As a recent graduate, I have never been happier and more thankful to have had the opportunity to attend Saint Anselm and be apart of the women’s hockey team, and I will forever be grateful for my time there.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Aurora Games adds new element to international competition

In the midst of a tumultuous time for women’s ice hockey, an opportunity to celebrate the game, rather than mourn what has been lost emerged as a key theme at the Aurora Games, a premier event which helped launch the 2019-20 Women’s Ice Hockey season with a feeling of empowerment, standing as a focal point towards an exciting new future.

Hosted in Albany, New York, the raison d’etre for the Games is to recognize and celebrate women in sport. Built with the similar bravura of the Goodwill Games from the 1990s, the statement about sportsmanship was a rather powerful one. Featuring an Athletic Advisory Board consisting of a who’s who in women’s sport, there was also a proud ice hockey influence, as Digit Murphy and Kelli Stack both left an indelible mark on the game.

Murphy, whose hockey resume includes 300 wins at the NCAA level with the Ivy League’s Brown Bears, along with a pair of Clarkson Cup championship wins, also took on the head coaching duties at the Games. Stack, a two-time silver medalist in the Winter Games and one of the greatest players in Boston College Eagles history, played for Murphy twice at the CWHL level.

With the Boston Blades, capturing a Clarkson Cup title, Murphy and Stack were also part of the Kunlun Red Star’s expansion season, where Stack enjoyed the feat of becoming the first American-born player to be recognized as the CWHL’s Most Valuable Player.

Although Stack would not play at the Games, a handful of Red Star alumnae, including Zoe Hickel, Jessica Wong and Madison (Maddie) Woo were on-hand. Worth noting, Hickel, would be part of a rare sorority in CWHL history, appearing in consecutive Clarkson Cup Finals with different teams.

Part of the Red Star squad that qualified for the 2018 edition of the Finals, Hickel would sign with the Calgary Inferno in the following off-season. On a roster, which featured former Boston Pride teammates Kacey Bellamy and Brianna Decker, Hickel enjoyed the chance to win a second championship alongside them. Having won the Isobel Cup in 2016 with the Pride, this trio would hoist the Clarkson Cup in 2019, marking a notable first for Hickel.

Adding the prestige of the Aurora Games to her celebrated career, Hickel was competing for Team Americas. As the competition consisting of six events, athletes were divided into Team Americas and Team World, the assembly of world-class talent saw an astounding 15 countries represented. Competing for the Babe Didrickson Zaharias Trophy, as each event represented a number of points, Team Americas would enjoy the first Trophy win.

From a hockey perspective, in addition to the talent from Canada and the United States, players from Czech Republic, Finland, Japan and Russia also participated, although the feeling of home ice advantage for one particular player.

Raised in New York State, where she starred between the pipes for the Clarkson Golden Knights in the Upstate community of Potsdam, the privilege of competing in Albany for Lauren Dahm rekindled fond feelings of her formative years in the game.

Having also enjoyed three professional seasons with the Boston/Worcester Blades of the CWHL, where fans were enamoured with her remarkable work ethic, constantly among the league leaders in saves made and shots faced, the Games served as a validation of Dahm’s tireless efforts.

For a Finnish team that captured the silver medal at the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships, becoming the first European nation to attain this pinnacle, the Games allowed an extension of this euphoric run for a handful of its players.

Among them was Venla Hovi, whose collection of hockey hardware includes a Canadian university championship with the Manitoba Bisons, plus a Clarkson Cup title with the Calgary Inferno. Having also played collegiately with the Niagara Purple Eagles in the United States, Hovi is definitely a well-travelled hockey citizen.

With the prospect of the Games becoming a bi-annual event, with plans underway for 2021 and 2023, the inaugural edition of the Games enjoyed significant coverage as EspnW provided a highly important credibility.

Zoe Hickel

The evolution of the Aurora Games…

“Digit and I worked together a lot since it was in the making a few years ago… we stayed in touch and when the time came we worked together to get a unique group of amazing women to be apart of this inaugural event! I was honored she wanted me involved and to see how it all came together was pretty special.”

Reflecting on the impact of the Games …

“Looking back on the Games, I would have to say my favorite part was being on the ice with so many of my teammates I have shared so many different memories with from over the years.

It seemed like the group really jelled and with such a range of backgrounds, it was amazing to see how much fun everyone had together. It was like being back at hockey camp with all you’re buddies, but this time making a difference for women in a powerful environment”

Venla Hovi

Taking on a leadership role for Team World at the Aurora Games…

“I embraced that role and was really humbled to captain team World. I knew I was one of the older and more experienced players on the team. It makes it really special knowing the amount of talent and good people on the team,and they’re all leaders on their national teams,which made my role very easy.”

The unique first in her career of calling players from Japan, Russia and Czech Republic as teammates…

“This was the most exciting part in my opinion; Having played against those girls for so many years, it was so much fun getting to know them a little bit more and the skill coming from Europe and Japan as well is undeniable. Such a great experience having players on the same team from so many different countries.”

Maddie Woo

Discussing the reaction of being given an opportunity to participate…

“I was certainly excited when approached about the Aurora Games – it was a unique opportunity to take part in something that had never been done before in the women’s sports space. It was a great opportunity to add to the conversation of women in sports, and be at the vanguard of competition and celebration and positive change.

Being able to act as an accessible role model alongside the rest of the athletes involved to empower the younger generation and inspire them is certainly something else to come out of the experience, and something I was very honored to take part in.”

On the thrill of playing for Team World alongside numerous other international stars…

“It was really fun to represent Team World and to play alongside elite, international hockey players. Not only were the players really competitive on ice, they were also just genuine, kind people off-ice. Despite being from all corners of the world and some language barriers at times, we definitely had some laughs and and made memories.”

Lauren Dahm

Reflecting on the privilege to play with numerous Olympians on Team Americas…

“Getting to play with everyone on Team Americas was incredible. Going into the week I knew who mostly everyone was, but only from playing against them. It was really cool how by the end of the week we knew each other so much better and were sad to be saying goodbye after such a short but amazing week together.

That was a special group since it was the inaugural Aurora Games and the energy the entire week was incredible in that we knew what was taking place that week in Albany had such huge meaning.”

On playing for iconic coach Digit Murphy for the first time,

“Digit was really fun to play for, especially in this type of event. She had us laughing in the locker room, made so much of it about the kids who we were interacting with every day, but still made sure we knew it was about us and female athletes too.

She has been an absolute trailblazer for women’s sports and has dedicated so much to progress our sport and others. We owe it to her and the other legendary women who were at the Aurora Games (Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Donna De Varona,etc) to keep fighting and paving the way for a better future for female athletes.”

Discussing the fact that the Aurora Games took place in her home state….

“I loved that the Games took place in my home state! It was closer to home than anywhere I’ve played in the last couple years so some friends and family were able to come watch. It is actually very cool and significant that this all-female, multisport festival took place in Albany.

If we think back to the women’s suffrage movement, those women wanted women to get the right to vote nationwide, but they knew their first step would be to get NYS to pass the law and hopefully that would lead to a nationwide change. Not too far off is the mission of the Aurora Games and time will tell if it spreads like the movement in the 1800s did.

Give women the platform and treat them as true professionals, and watch what happens! We are seeing it constantly with women’s soccer, ncaa softball, and even the PWHPA. Showcase our sports in ways that are worthy of the talent that is out on the field and you’d be amazed at what can happen.

Overall, it was beyond incredible and meant so much to me to be part of the first Aurora Games and it is awesome to see it will be back in Albany for at least the next 2 cycles. The city wanted us female athletes and the Games to come to Albany and the way they treated us showed us they were honored we chose Albany!”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

allowhertoplay selects its All-Time CWHL Teams

All-Time First Team

Jayna Hefford: Brampton Thunder
Caroline Ouellette: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Marie-Philip Poulin: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal

Molly Engstrom: Brampton Thunder, Boston Blades
Catherine Ward: Montreal Stars

Charline Labonte: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal

Patrick Rankine: Montreal Stars

All-Time Second Team
Jennifer Botterill: Mississauga Warriors, Toronto Furies
Noemie Marin: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Kelli Stack: Boston Blades, Kunlun Red Star

Cathy Chartrand: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Becky Kellar: Burlington Barracudas

Kim St. Pierre: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal

Digit Murphy: Boston Blades, Kunlun Red Star

All-Time Third Team
Ann-Sophie Bettez: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Brianna Decker: Boston Blades, Calgary Inferno
Hilary Knight: Boston Blades, Canadiennes de Montreal
Laura Fortino: Brampton/Markham Thunder
Annie Guay, Montreal Stars
Sami Jo Small: Mississauga Warriors, Toronto Furies
Dany Brunet: Canadiennes de Montreal
Honorable Mention
Meghan Agosta: Montreal Stars
Rebecca Johnston: Toronto Furies, Calgary Inferno
Natalie Spooner: Toronto Furies
Sommer West: Mississauga Warriors, Burlington Barracudas

Kacey Bellamy: Boston Blades, Calgary Inferno
Jocelyne Larocque: Brampton/Markham Thunder
Shannon Moulson: Burlington Barracudas, Toronto Furies
Meaghan Mikkelson: Calgary Inferno
Delayne Brian, Calgary Inferno
Liz Knox: Brampton/Markham Thunder
Emerance Maschmeyer: Calgary Inferno, Canadiennes de Montreal
Pat Cocklin: Brampton Thunder, Burlington Barracudas