Third annual Beauty of Sport edition captures Canadian female sporting heroes

Including a very different but unique aspect to its captivating series of stunning visual images, Sportsnet Magazine’s Beauty of Sport returns for a third annual edition. With Dara Howell gracing its cover in a black swimsuit, holding her skis with a determined focus, it sets the tone for a much different magazine compared to its preceding editions.

Gold medalist Dara Howell would become the cover girl for Sportsnet Magazine’s 2014 edition of The Beauty of Sport (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Gold medalist Dara Howell would become the cover girl for Sportsnet Magazine’s 2014 edition of The Beauty of Sport (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Compared to the 2013 edition, where Emily Betty was in a powder blue swimsuit, with the Nevada sun shining on her remarkable athletic frame, the 2014 edition carried a much darker tone and serious side. Of note, most of the athletes for the 2013 edition were photographed in Las Vegas. The vibrant setting and glamorous aura of the surroundings created a series of brightly colored backdrops, complemented by vivid swimwear as perfectly white smiles complement the electricity of the shoot.

Field hockey player Kathleen Leahy has ambitions to compete at the 2016 Rio Summer Games (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Field hockey player Kathleen Leahy has ambitions to compete at the 2016 Rio Summer Games (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

The 2014 edition, photographed exclusively in Canada, does not feature such a sexy and dynamic series of images. Photographed by Mark Zibert in the wilderness of Moraine Lake near Lake Louise, Alberta, there is an air of intensity that emanates from the athletes, both male and female.

Beginning the photo shoot by capturing speed skater Alexandra Ianculescu and field hockey player Kathleen Leahy, they would be among a group of nine empowered female athletes. As a side note, heptathlete Rachel McIntosh and rower Sarah Black would be part of a portfolio sharing their workout tips.

Rachel Machin would show no fear as she poses with a 1500 lb. buffalo in Alberta (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Rachel Machin would show no fear as she poses with a 1500 lb. buffalo in Alberta (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Three of the athletes, Dara Howell, Meghan Agosta-Marciano and Kirsten Moore-Towers all experienced podium finishes at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Of note, Jennifer Abel would be photographed in a sand quarry while Rachel Machin would be fearlessly photographed with a 1,300-pound buffalo. Women’s hockey legend Meghan Agosta-Marciano would be photographed with a wolf.

Even though a series of exclusive online photos feature two athletes topless (Machin and marathon runner Natasha Wodak), it comes across almost as necessity rather than sensuality.

Promising figure skater Kirsten Moore-Towers earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

Promising figure skater Kirsten Moore-Towers earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games (Photo credit: Mark Zibert, Obtained from: http://www.sportsnet.ca/the-beauty-of-sport/)

With many of the photos in black and white, the dynamic mountain range of Alberta and its powerful scenery fulfills a presence which complements the toughness of these world-class athletes. The subject matter of the write-ups also mimics such sentiment as it attempts to measure the beauty of the athletes in their ability to overcome and succeed, portraying a sense of courage that is evidently beautiful.

In learning of the athletes great personal triumphs, it exemplifies a character and desire which is admirable. In that admiration lies a beautiful respect which captures the spirit of the emotions that grace the Beauty of Sport’s remarkable pages.

Winter Games gold medalist Meghan Agosta aspires for career in law enforcement

Having won three gold medals in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games, Meghan Agosta has established herself as a living legend in the sport. Like all athletes, eventually the spotlight fades away and the rigors of the real world rear its sometimes ugly head. While Agosta is only 27, she is young enough and certainly talented enough to play in at least another three Winter Games, she already has her sights set on a career after hockey.

A major in criminology at Mercyhurst University, Agosta grew up dreaming of becoming a police officer. Having grown up in the county of Windsor-Essex, she is the second athlete from area with aspirations towards a career in law enforcement. Decathlete Jamie Adjetey-Nelson also has plans to pursue the same career.

In an interview with CBC Windsor, Agosta stated that hockey and policing have similarities. There is no doubt that a prison cell is the real world equivalent to the penalty box. She has already submitted applications to the Ontario Provincial Police, along with the police departments in Hamilton and Vancouver, the city where she earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the 2010 Winter Games. As a side note, the police force was even gracious enough to have Agosta ride with some officers.

Of note, she would not be the only female hockey player to pursue a career in protecting the public. Amy Turek, a former member of the Canadian national team, and Cherie Hendrickson (who ran in the 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathon) both serve as paramedics. Ironically, Hendrickson played against Agosta in the 2013 edition of the Clarkson Cup championship. Amber Bowman, who called Tessa Bonhomme her teammate at Ohio State University is a firefighter for Central York Fire Services (located north of Toronto).

Considering the departments where Agosta has submitted an application, the most adequate setting would be Hamilton. Taking into account that her husband, Marco Marciano, is a goaltender coach with the Hamilton Bulldogs (the American Hockey League affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens), the chance to work and live in the same city would be a refreshing change from the somewhat nomadic life in hockey.

For fans of the Brampton Thunder, seeing Agosta serve among Hamilton’s finest may be a blessing in disguise. From 2011 to 2013, Agosta won two scoring titles with the Montreal Stars. With Hamilton approximately a one-hour commute from Brampton, the opportunity to have Agosta compete with the Thunder, even on a part-time basis would certainly inject new life into a beleaguered franchise.

Regardless of whether Agosta continues to compete at the club level, one reality is that there will be an adjustment period for the fans. The thought of Agosta issuing a speeding ticket to one of her fans would certainly require a sense of humor on both sides. Bearing in mind that a fan could state on social media (or mentioning in a hockey arena) that they were issued a speeding ticket by one of hockey’s living legends would not be surprising. Although Agosta’s standing as a sporting hero and a great example of what young people can achieve would only be enhanced by a career in law enforcement.

Meghan Agosta continues to provide memorable hockey moments on her birthday

Having carved a hockey legacy that is truly Hockey Hall of Fame worthy, one of the crowning achievements in Meghan Agosta’s career are the shining performances she has provided on her birthday. Quickly turning February 12 into a date that is synonymous with women’s hockey lore, Agosta’s legend only grows.

Celebrating a goal against the United States on her 27th birthday at Sochi. Photo credit: Jean Levac, Postmedia Olympic Team

Celebrating a goal against the United States on her 27th birthday at Sochi. Photo credit: Jean Levac, Postmedia Olympic Team

The last three Winter Games competitions (Torino 2006, Vancouver 2010, and Sochi 2014) have all been contested in the month of February, providing Agosta with multiple opportunities to showcase her skills. While each performance on the world’s biggest stage has its own mystique to it, the most memorable is obviously her first.

With the 2006 Torino Winter Games serving as her coming-out party, Agosta would log a hat trick on her 19th birthday. Playing with an expertise and maturity far beyond her years, Torino set the stage for a bright future to come. In a 12-0 victory against Russia, she would score a hat trick. Adding to the jubilation was the fact that the Winter Games were contested in the homeland of her father.

Scoring a first period goal against Nadezhda Aleksandrova of Russia at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. (Image obtained from: http://www.windsorstar.com/Gallery+Meghan+Agosta/1278824/story.html Agosta)

Scoring a first period goal against Nadezhda Aleksandrova of Russia at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. (Image obtained from: http://www.windsorstar.com/Gallery+Meghan+Agosta/1278824/story.html
Agosta)

Of note, the first game for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games came on February 13, one day after Agosta’s 23rd birthday. In an 18-0 victory over Slovakia, Agosta registered a hat trick and two assists.

Heading into the February 12th match (also her 27th birthday) versus the United States at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Agosta wrote what would prove to be the next glorious chapter in the eternal rivalry between Canada and the United States. Despite entering Sochi with a four-game losing streak in exhibition matches versus the US, Agosta scored twice on US backstop Jessie Vetter in the third period for a remarkable 3-2 come from behind victory at Shayba Arena.

Of note, Canada trailed by a 1-0 mark after two periods of play. Agosta’s first goal of the game came on the power play. She would assist on Hayley Wickenheiser’s goal providing Canada with the 2-1 advantage. Agosta would score again for a two goal lead as a US goal from Anne Schleper with less than sixty seconds was not enough.

While an entire generation of hockey fans is accustomed to Agosta proudly representing Canada at the Winter Games, she has also captured the imaginations of fans at the NCAA and CWHL levels.

Competing for the famed Mercyhurst Lakers in Erie, Pennsylvania, Agosta would transform the program into a national power. Playing alongside future national team members such as Vicki Bendus, Bailey Bram and Jesse Scanzano, it would prove to be a golden age for the Lakers.

Her junior campaign with the Lakers (2008-09) found her competing against the Robert Morris Colonials on February 13. One day after turning 22, she pummeled the Colonials with a hat trick. During her senior season with the Lakers (2010-11), she would deliver in a contest versus conference rival Syrcause. On the road, the Syracuse Orange faithful would see Agosta deliver a three-point performance on the strength of two assists while she celebrated her 24th birthday.

With the Montreal Stars of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the high-scoring Agosta is the modern-day equivalent of Guy Lafleur in the Montreal hockey conversation. So far, the only CWHL game contested on her birthday came during her rookie season, where she shattered league marks for most points in one season, along with most points by a rookie, respectively.

A road contest on February 12, 2012 against the Brampton Thunder signified Agosta’s landmark 25th birthday. She would contribute a pair of goals complemented by two assists (including one on the power play) for a four-point output in a convincing 5-1 thrashing of the Thunder.

Anytime that Agosta graces the ice, it becomes an opportunity to watch women’s hockey history unfold. For hardcore fans, the next time that Agosta competes on her birthday, there is no question that many fireworks are sure to follow for the greatest player of her generation.

European detour leads Jess Jones to first round of 2013 CWHL Draft

Having bypassed the 2012 CWHL Draft and opting for Europe, Jess Jones’ decision was a surprise to many fans. After graduating from the Mercyhurst Lakers, she competed for Pantera Minsk in Belarus during the 2012-13 campaign. After a historic performance with her new club, the window to play for the CWHL was still wide open at season’s end.

Playing against Wisconsin's Brianna Decker in her final NCAA Game (Photo credit: M.P. King, Wisconsin State Journal)

Playing against Wisconsin’s Brianna Decker in her final NCAA Game (Photo credit: M.P. King, Wisconsin State Journal)

Obtained by the Brampton Thunder in the first round (third overall) of the 2013 CWHL Draft, it was the most logocal option for new General Manager Lori Dupuis. Facing the loss of Jayna Hefford (the CWHL’s all-time leading scorer), third-generation star Gillian Apps, Vicki Bendus and Bailey Bram (another Mercyhurst alumnae) to Canada’s centralization camp, Brampton faced a decimated offense heading into the season.

Compounded by the retirement of Cherie Piper, Jones becomes a key piece to Brampton’s rebuilding puzzle. After four coaches in two seasons, penalty problems and a heartbreaking loss to the Toronto Furies in the Clarkson Cup playoffs, Jones is a breath of fresh air for the beleaguered franchise.
With the selection of Jess Jones third overall in the 2013 CWHL Draft, it marks the third consecutive year that a Mercyhurst Lakers player is selected in the first round. In 2011, Meghan Agosta (drafted first overall by Montreal), Vicki Bendus and Jesse Scanzano were first round picks. The following year, goaltender Hillary Pattenden followed in Agosta’s footsteps and was drafted first overall by the Alberta Hockey Club.

In 138 career games with the Mercyhurst Lakers, she would log 154 career points. Complemented by four College Hockey American regular season titles and four NCAA tournament appearances, Jones is a proven winner that can help restore the pride in Brampton.

Her scoring flair continued last season with Pantera Minsk. Having played in just 19 games, she recorded 28 goals and 25 assists for a sterling 53 point output. As the only Canadian on the team, she would emerge as the leading scorer for the European Women’s Hockey League club.

Participating in the 2013 EWHL Supercup, Jones contributed eight points as she helped Pantera Minsk grab their first-ever championship. In dramatic fashion, Jones would score twice in the title game, a 6-1 triumph over defending champion Sabres Vienna. Her sparkling performance was complemented by a nod to the Tournament All-Star team.

It is that type of performance that Brampton fans will hope Jones can provide in the near future as the beleaguered Thunder continue to chase that elusive Clarkson Cup championship.

With Brampton in a rebuilding year, Jones certainly stands a key building block for a brighter future ahead. The eventual return of former Mercyhurst teammates and current Thunder superstars Bailey Bram and Vicki Bendus from the Canadian centralization camp will create a remarkable scoring line, reuniting the Lakers legends of seasons past.

Next to Jessica Wong, Jones may be the only other first round pick that will be expected to carry the lion’s share of the offensive load. Although Jones’ leadership skills and offensive play making abilities make her a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, her inaugural season in the CWHL will certainly be a baptism of fire.