Alivia Del Basso becomes first Aussie to score a goal in NCAA play

Having already made history as the first Australian-born woman to compete in the NCAA, Alivia Del Basso would score her first NCAA goal in the second period of an October 5 victory against the Connecticut Huskies. Assisted by freshman Demi Crossman of Livonia, Michigan and scored on Sarah Moses, these two women would have a hand in a unique bit of NCAA hockey history as Del Basso becomes the first woman from Australia to score an NCAA goal.

Hailing from Perth, Australia, the 5’6″ forward went her entire freshman season without scoring one point. Competing in 34 games, she was an iron woman for a Bulldogs squad that featured seniors such as Jessica Wong and Katie Wilson. Of note, she was part of a group of women from seven different countries playing for the Bulldogs. Studying exercise science, she is also the first woman from the Southern Hemisphere to compete in the NCAA,

Image from UMD Bulldogs Athletics

Image from UMD Bulldogs Athletics

Prior to joining the Bulldogs, she was a member of the Australian national women’s hockey team and a member of the Melbourne Ice. She would help Australia claim a silver medal at the Division 2B Worlds in 2011 and a bronze medal in 2012. In addition, she was a competitor in 2011 at the world famous Pursuit of Excellence academy in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Of note, Jordan Krause, who plays with Del Basso on the Bulldogs was also a teammate at POE, respectively.

In action with the Melbourne Ice. Photo credit: Jack Geraghty

In action with the Melbourne Ice. Photo credit: Jack Geraghty

Del Basso’s goal had an even greater relevance as it signified the 350th win of Bulldogs’ head coach Shannon Miller. While Miller is the first women’s coach to win five NCAA Women’s Frozen Fours, her greatest legacy is opening the doors for women from Europe and abroad to play for the Bulldogs. With Del Basso being one of many global recruits that have donned the Bulldogs sweater for Miller, her goal is a fitting tribute and a treasured moment in both of their careers.

Jessica Wong adds another historic feat to her storied career

In the aftermath of the 2013 CWHL Draft, Jessica Wong is only the fourth player in CWHL history to be selected as the first pick overall in the league’s draft. Selected by the Alberta Hockey Club, the element that makes this pick unique is that Wong is the first visible minority to be selected first overall.

Being mobbed by her teammates after scoring her historic goal against Cornell (Photo by: Brett Groehler)

Being mobbed by her teammates after scoring her historic goal against Cornell (Photo by: Brett Groehler)

While Wong was selected for her tremendous hockey skill, on-ice vision and versatility for playing offense and defense, she is also a pioneer in the league’s growing history. It sends a positive message that reinforces young women can be whatever they wish to be, regardless of race, color or creed.

Of note, there is also another unique aspect of CWHL Draft history that Wong has become part of. Her teammate with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, Katie Wilson, was selected second overall. It marks the first time in draft history that the top two picks were both selected from the same school.

Her final season with the Bulldogs was more than just a farewell, it was the chance to celebrate one of the most storied careers in NCAA history. Wong made her impact as a freshman during the 2009-10 season.

With a season that was altered due to the fact that star players left their programs for the chance to compete for gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Wong would score a goal filled with more drama than any scored in Vancouver. A triple-overtime championship clinching goal in the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four transformed her into a legend as she scored one of the greatest goals in women’s hockey history.

It is that type of on-ice magic that Alberta is hoping for. With a team that only managed three wins in the 2012-13 campaign, an anemic offense only compounded problems. The presence of Wong ensures that the team will certainly score at a higher rate than the previous season.

Complemented by her ability to play both offense and defense, Wong’s experience on the blueline shall also compensate for the retirement of team captain Bobbi-Jo Slusar. Along with the losses of Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson and Tara Watchorn at Canada’s centralization camp for Sochi 2014, Wong has the opportunity to provide the club with much-needed defensive stability.

Alberta clearly has a gem in Wong. While the club only enters its third season, the possibility of a postseason berth is all too real. As every club has lost talent due to the impact of Sochi, the playing field has leveled considerably. Should Alberta manage to qualify for its first postseason, the acquisition of Wong will have already begun to yield a remarkable, yet positive return.