Canada West Women’s Hockey Preview


October 4, 2012, EDMONTON – The new, eight-team Canada West women’s hockey season gets underway with four two-game series’ this weekend. The season has been extended to 28 games and six schools will make playoffs for the first time.

Here is a look at the eight teams…


2011-12 conference record: 14-3-7 (2nd)

2012 playoffs: 3-4 (CW runner-up, CIS 5th)

Last CW title: 2010

Last CIS title: 2010

CW ranking: #2

Key additions: Jessica Kampjes (F), Lindsey Post (G), Kirsten Toth (D), Jessica Sekulic (F), Jayden Skoye (F), Emily Mitchell (G), Amy Helfrich (F), and Hannah Mousek (D)

Key returnees: Karla Bourke (F), Sarah Hilworth (F), Riana Magee (D), Brandi Buss (D), Kayla Lavallee (D)

Key departures: Andrea Boras (D), Nicole Pratt (D), Katie Borbely (F)

Alberta Pandas_LogoEDMONTON – After finishing 2011-12 with a conference silver medal and a fifth-place at the CIS championship tournament, the Alberta Pandas has reloaded for the 2012-13 campaign.

Head coach Howie Draper, now in his 16th season, brought in a very strong recruiting class featuring a number of first-year players who will step into the lineup and make an impact. Forward Jessica Kampjes, who has attended Team Canada camps, goalie Lindsey Post, B.C. born defender Kirsten Toth, as well as forwards Jessica Sekulic, and Jayden Skoye goalie Emily Mitchell will all don the Pandas’ logo. Kampjes was the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League rookie of the year in 2009, and the league scoring leader a year later in 2010. She was also the MAC’s tournament MVP in 2009 and a 2011 Canada Winter Games Gold medalist, a team that was coached by Draper.

Up front, the Pandas return last season’s leading scorer in fifth-year Sarah Hilworth, as well as fifth-year Karla Bourke, sophomore Tess Houston, and veterans Katie Stewart, Janelle Malcolm, Meg Omand and Monika Moskalski. Kampjes, Sekulic, and Skoye will bolster those ranks, as will transfer Amy Helfrich who joins the Pandas from Niagara University.

Brandi Buss, Kayla Lavallee, Riana Magee and Hayley Helland ar e the key returning veterans on the blueline, but Toth, along with newcomer Hannah Mousek, are key additions. Toth previously played for the Notre Dame AAA Hounds, including the 2011 season when the Hounds won the Esso Cup as national midget champions. She also spent two seasons with Team BC U18 team.

Between the pipes, Alberta has rookies in Post and Mitchell, while returning goalie Michala Jeffries is in the fold as well. Post was named to the Quebec Female Developmental Hockey League (LHFDQ) 2012 All-Star game, and she also backstopped her midget team to the Ottawa District championship in 2010-11. Mitchell, meanwhile, was a goalie with the St. Albert Slash, and helped the team to big tournament performances at the MAC’s tournament, where she won the 2010 top goaltender award, as well as the national championship and the Esso Cup.


2011-12 conference record: 1-21-2 (7th)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CW ranking: #7

Key additions: Danielle Dube, Danielle Lemon, Stephanie Schaupmeyer, Nicole Saxvik, and Genevieve Carpenter-Boesch

Key returnees: Tatiana Rafter, Kaylee Chanakos, Kaitlin Imai, Christi Capozzi, and Emily Grainger

Key departure: Amanda Asay

UBC ThunderbirdsVANCOUVER – Coming off the worst season in the program’s history, change was the order of the day for the UBC Thunderbirds this off-season. Graham Thomas comes in as the new head coach with the task of trying to turn this program around.

This year’s team is led by fifth-year forwards Kaitlin Imai and Kaylee Chanakos. Both are eager for the opportunity to finish their university careers on a high and help to turn the program around. Both dealt with injuries last year, but are healthy this season and are expected to provide leadership and offense as well.

Last year’s leading scorer, Tatiana Rafter, is back and will be relied upon to be the driving force offensively. Thanks to a strong recruiting clas, she is surrounded by a talented group, including rookie forwards Stephanie Schaupmeyer, Genevieve Carpenter-Boesch and Nicole Saxvik.

Defensively, the biggest difference in 2012-13 will be the team’s depth. Last season, the Thunderbirds relied far too much on their top four, forcing them to play major minutes. In doing so, they wore down. This year, all seven players will have the opportunity to contribute.

Nicole Brown-John moves from forward to defence, joining a group that features fifth-year player Emily Grainger, Christi Capozzi and Sarah Casorso. KelseyHalvorson is also back after sitting out 2011-12.

The strength of the team is in net, with the addition of former National Team member Danielle Dube, who brings leadership, poise, and confidence. The 36-year-old last played professionally with the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the West Coast Hockey League. Meanwhile, Danielle Lemon was a surprise pick-up. Originally slated to join a NCAA Division 1 program, she decided instead to come play for the Thunderbirds. The lone returning netminder is Samantha Langford.


2011-12 conference record: 20-4-0 (1st)

2012 playoffs: 7-0 (CW champs, CIS champs)

Last CW title: 2012

Last CIS title: 2012

CW ranking: #1

Key additions: F Heather Berzins, D Daniella Calogheros, D Megan Grenon, D Kelsie Lang

Key returnees: F Hayley Wickenheiser, G Amanda Tapp, F Iya Gavrilova, D Stephanie Ramsay

Key departure: F Casey Irving

dinosCALGARY – Months after winning the program’s first-ever Canada West and CIS championships, the Calgary Dinos have a target squarely on their collective backs as they open their defence in 2012-13.

The unanimous choice among Canada West coaches to finish first in the standings, the Dinos are a talented, deep squad that returns virtually the entire roster from last March’s national championship victory at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton. The Dinos had seven of the top 18 scorers in Canada West last season – all of them returning – and all 10 of their top scorers from a year ago are back on the roster. Leading the way again, of course, is Hayley Wickenheiser, who put up 46 points in 23 games last season, 14 of which came in the seven playoff and CIS championship games. Wickenheiser is joined by a solid supporting cast including fellow all-Canadian and blue-liner Stephanie Ramsay, Russian phenom Iya Gavrilova, forwards Elana Lovell and Tanya Morgan, and defenceman Melissa Zubick.

In goal, CIS championship MVP Amanda Tapp returns for her fourth year. Add to that a solid recruiting class including forward Heather Berzins along with blue-liners Daniella Calogheros, Megan Grenon, and Kelsie Lang, and the squad has depth at all positions.

The Dinos’ preseason schedule took them to southern Ontario for a grueling tour that featured four games in four days, all of them wins – including a 7-1 triumph over perennial powerhouse Wilfrid Laurier. In those four games, Calgary outscored the opposition 21-2.

Calgary enters this weekend’s season-opening series with Lethbridge on an 18-game win streak in contests that count – a streak they’ll look to extend to 20 when the puck drops Friday night at Father David Bauer Arena.


2011-12 conference record: 14-8-2 (4th)

2012 CW playoffs: 0-2

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CW ranking: #5

Key additions: Lauren Fredrich *F), Jocelyn Sabourin (D), Sarah Spence (F)

Key returnees: Crystal Patterson (G), Sadie Lenstra (F), Kirsten Reeves (F), Ashley Beattie (D), Amy Van Buskirk (D)

Key departures: Shelby Ballendine (F), Megan Bach (F)

Lethbridge PronghornsLETHBRIDGE, AB – Coming off the best season in the program’s history, the Lethbridge Pronghorns return 17 players from last season’s team.

Despite losing two games straight in the opening round of the playoffs to the eventual CIS Champion Calgary Dinos, the Horns took a huge step forward last season and want to remain in the post-season mix after missing the playoffs for five consecutive years prior to last season.

The Horns rock last season, Crystal Patterson returns off a Canada West first team all-star season that saw Patterson led the conference in shutouts with six. Her six shutouts tied her for the third most ever in a Canada West season. Patterson led the conference in minutes played last season and was among to top four in every other goaltending category.

While offensive productive was improved last season, the ‘Horns will be without their leading scorer and second team all-star, Shelby Ballendine after her graduation. Reigning Canada West rookie of the year Sadie Lenstra and Kirsten Reeves will have to take another step forward in their sophomore season to pick up the slack left behind. Lenstra led all Canada West rookies in scoring with 19 points last season, while Reeves finished tied for third on the team in goals with seven. Talent fourth-year forward Jenna-Marie Durnin will also be counted on to pick up her offensive production this season.

On the back end, the ‘Horns have a solid experienced group led by fifth-years Captain Ashley Bettie and Amy Van Buskirk and fourth-year Glenda Edie.


2011-12 conference record: 18-8-4 (5th)

Last CW title: 2011

Last CIS title: N/A

CW ranking: #3

Key additions: Kayleigh Palmer, Nicole McGlenen, Cassandra Taylor, Jayden Skoleski

Key returnees: Nellie Minshull, Caitlin MacDonald, Amy Lee, Meagan Vestby, Maggie Litchfield-Medd, Leiette Klassen

Key departures: Addie Miles, Kayla Duna, Chantal DeSpiegelaere

manitoba bisons_newWINNIPEG – The 2011-12 Bisons battled hard right up to the last weekend of the season, but missed the playoffs for the first time 2003-04.

Despite losing all-time team scoring leader, forward Addie Miles due to graduation, the team will retain the core of its nucleus and only has six newcomers in the lineup. There will be only one fifth-year, Nellie Minshull, six fourth-year players and five third year players.

Miles was a huge part of the scoring and leadership area and now the team will look to replace her by committee on the forward lines. Minshull returns for her fifth year and was ninth in Canada West scoring last year with 21 points (11g, 10a) followed by third year Maggie Litchfield-Medd in 11th for conference scoring with 20 points (11g, 9a). Third year Meagan Vestby (last season: 7g, 8a), fourth year Rachèle Bosc (3g, 8a), second year Jessica Carswell (5g, 4a) plus fourth year Brenley Anderson and second year Kayleigh Wiens will all be part of the scoring. New team captain fourth year Amy Lee will continue to grow on the ice (last season: 2g, 6a) and as a leader.

On the blue-line, previous Canada West All-Star Caitlin MacDonald and fellow fourth-year Michelle Pawluk are back after placing first in team defensive scoring with eight points last season. Newcomer Kayleigh Palmer, second year Lindsay Blight and walk-on Jayden Skoleski will all solidify the defence. In her third year, Leiette Klassen will be leaned upon to take the reins of starting goaltender.


2011-12 conference record: 17-5-2 (1st, ACAC)

2012 playoffs: 6-1 (ACAC champion)

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CW ranking: #8

Key additions: Sydney Laurin, Sarah Weninger, Madison Sands

Key returnees: Chrissy Hodgson, Tanika Dawson, Rayna Cruickshank, Emily Harrison, Kendall Kilgour, Jess Ross

Key departures: Karlie Martens, Emma Lowry, Jesslyn Legasse

MRU CougarsLogo2010CALGARY – Scott Rivett’s team was the best women’s college squad in Alberta last year. Now, as they move on from the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), the Mount Royal Cougars are out to prove their worth as new members of Canadian Interunivesity Sport (CIS) and Canada West.

The Cougars won the provincial title two of the past three years, which completed their seasons since the CCAA does not hold a national women’s hockey championship tournament.

Tthe Cougars have 17 players returning for 2011-12 and eight first-year student-athletes are joined by transferring goalie Katie Sigurdson, who will be battling for minutes. Kendall Kilgour and Jess Ross return in goal. They both saw plenty of time last year. In fact, Kilgour played 13 games with a 1.28 goals-against average (GAA), while Ross played 12 with a 1.65 GAA. They had two shutouts each.

Up front, captain, leading scorer and ACAC most valuable player Chrissy Hodgson returns for her fifth and final season after she registered 13 goals and 13 assists in 24 regular season games last season.

Tanika Dawson and Queen’s University transfer from two years ago, Emily Harrison, will also be counted on heavily at forward. Dawson had 10 goals and 14 assists in 20 games and Harrison six goals and four assists in only 10 contests.

On defence, Rayna Cruickshank offers size and experience in her fourth season. Jocelyn Froehlich is another key member of the blue line.

Jesslyn Legasse, an ACAC all-star her past four years, has graduated. Rivett recruited Madison Sands, an offensive-minded defenceman who moves the puck well. Sydney Laurin and Sarah Weninger had strong non-conference showings among the new forwards.


2011-12 conference record: 7-15-2 (6th)

Last CW title: 2000-01

Last CIS title: N/A

CW ranking: #6

Key additions: F Kylie Gavelin, D Alexis Larson, G Toni Ross

Key returnees: F Gina Campbell, D Carleen Meszaros, G Jennifer Schmidt, F Paige Wheeler, F Rianne Wight

Key departures: D Stefanie Banilevic, G Lisa Urban

cougarsREGINA – Regina returns most of a roster which saw the Cougars finish sixth and out of the playoffs in 2011-12.

Leading the returning players is a trio of fifth-year forwards that has carried a large portion of the offence over the past few years as Gina Campbell, Paige Wheeler and Rianne Wight all enter their final season of CIS eligibility. Wheeler led the team with 11 goals last year, while both she and Wight tied for the team lead with 17 points.

Head coach Sarah Hodges will also look to Stephanie Sawchuk to provide offence, as the second-year forward had five points in her rookie season last year, but led the Cougars with five goals in the team’s six non-conference games this season. Also back is Brooklyn Moskowy, who netted six goals as a first-year student-athlete in 2011-12.

Carleen Meszaros finished second among Canada West rookie defencemen and led all Cougar blue-liners with eight points last season, while the steady Hillary Lerat is the lone member of the U of R’s defensive corps past her third season of eligibility. Alexis Larson could step in and make an immediate impact on the blue line.

Jennifer Schmidt led all Canada West rookie goalies in both goals-against average (2.24) and save percentage (.928) last season. She is joined by Red Deer College transfer Toni Ross and third-year netminder Morgan Cooper.


2011-12 conference record: 16-6-2 (3rd)

2012 playoffs: 0-2

Last CW title: N/A

Last CIS title: N/A

CW ranking: #4

Key additions: Cami Wooster, Cassidy Hendricks, Rachel Johnson

Key returnees: Cara Wooster, Danny Stone, Julia Flinton, Megan Frohaug

Key departures: Breanne George, Julie Paetsch, Kristin Bews, Mckenzie Rizos, Vanessa Frederick

huskies-logoSASKATOON – The Saskatchewan Huskies enter 2012-13 with a young roster after the departures of CIS All-Canadians and Canada West MVPs Breanne George and Julie Paetsch, as well as captain Kristin Bews and goaltenders Mckenzie Rizos and Vanessa Frederick.

Saskatchewan will look to youth, as 14 players are in their first or second year, to help make waves in the conference.

Returning with experience will be two-time Canada West All-Star and newly minted captain Cara Wooster, fifth-year forward Danny Stone, along with defencemen Julia Flinton and Megan Frohaug. Wooster finished fifth in conference scoring with nine goals and 18 assists last year, after tying for top spot a year earlier. Stone finished right behind her teammate with 13 goals and 12 assists in 2011-12. Flinton made a big impact in her first season with a +8 rating and 11 points.

Among the new faces to the team is Wooster’s twin sister, Cami, fellow forward Rachel Johnson, as well as goaltender Cassidy Hendricks. Cami Wooster joins the Huskies after experience with the University of North Dakota and the University of Alberta Pandas. Hendricks provides presence in net at 5-8. She led the Vancouver Fusion to the B.C. midget AAA league semifinal, while Johnson played in the midget AAA national championship three straight years.

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.