The Golden Hawk women's varsity hockey program is pleased to announce the commitment of eight new recruits for the upcoming 2009-2010 season.
This is the largest recruiting class RICK OSBORNE has seen since his arrival as the varsity women's head coach in 2003. Despite the size, however, each athlete stood out in the recruiting process and will bring invaluable skills to the Golden Hawk team.
The end of the 2008-2009 women’s hockey season saw the departures of seven of the program’s players, each of whom leave important shoes to fill. With so many significant roster changes, preparing the team for their new season may seem daunting. Osborne, however, is up for the task, stating “it really is an exciting challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”
Team captain Andrea Ironside agrees, explaining that this is a chance the team is going to embrace. “Everyone is really eager and excited to get things underway,” she comments. “Although we are bringing in eight new players, we are confident that our team will be as strong as ever. We do not expect this addition to impact the team negatively as we don’t recruit to rebuild our team, we recruit to reload it.”
Keep an eye out for these new Golden Hawks:
A Stouffville, Ontario native, Brittany Crago is a former teammate of current Golden Hawks goalie Liz Knox. With ten years of hockey experience under her belt, she has most recently played left wing for the Whitby Junior Wolves. “Crago is a power forward who can really dangle,” Coach Osborne explains. “There is an upside to her game that we saw early on in the recruiting process and we plan on pulling that all out of her.”
Kristen Kilgallen grew up in Guelph, Ontario, and has chosen Laurier because of its strong sense of community. Kilgallen is a former teammate of current Golden Hawks forward Caitlin Muirhead, and her numbers placed her as one of the top recruits of interest this year. “We have been watching Kristen Kilgallen for the last few years now,” Osborne notes. “She has been, in our opinion, the top goalie in the PWHL for the last two years. She will be a perfect fit for the type of team and system we play at Laurier.”
It was the commitment, stability and drive of the Golden Hawks women's hockey program that made Paula LaGamba choose Laurier. This Toronto native tends to play either left or right wing, and her ability to handle the puck down low is one of the skills she will bring to the team. In the past, she has played with fellow recruit Candice Styles as well as former Golden Hawk forward Candace Kellough. Osborne describes LaGamba as a hardworking two-way player. “She is going to add scoring punch to our team and some size up front,” he says.
Fiona Lester has experienced a challenging year. In late December, Lester broke her femur playing for the Whitby Junior Wolves and in January underwent surgery to have a rod placed in her leg. Though she has had to take time to recover since then, Lester still stood out during the Golden Hawk recruiting process. “We had her ranked as the highest skilled defenseman out there as we looked to replace our parts and reload our team,” remembers Coach Osborne. “So Fiona’s injury really did not deter us at all. We are more than willing to wait to have a player of her high calibre.”
Maureen Mommersteeg, 19, is originally from St. Thomas, Ontario. With plans to study Kinesiology, Mommersteeg chose Laurier because of the strength its program. She also looks forward to being immersed in such a steady hockey community, remarking that the Golden Hawk women’s and men’s hockey programs are each very strong. Mommersteeg will prove to be a valuable addition to the team with her off-ice leadership and her skills as a defenseman rushing the puck. “We think she is a really solid defenseman,” Osborne comments. “She also has a lot of offensive upside that we are going to try to tap.”
Left Wing Devon Skeats from Whitby, Ontario, started playing hockey at the age of six. She looks forward to being a student at Laurier, explaining that the school seems like a perfect fit for her. Skeats has played for the Whitby Junior Wolves with fellow recruits Brittany Crago and Fiona Lester, and her speed on the ice will be of great importance to the Golden Hawks. As Osborne notes, “Devon is a really good two-way forward and a very high character player. The first time I met her off the ice, I just knew we had to have her in a Golden Hawk uniform.”
Tori Skot has most recently played in Barrie’s Midget AA team and brings intense determination to the ice. Skot will be pursuing Business Administration in September and chose Laurier’s program because of its high reputation. When he saw her play, Osborne was pleasantly reminded of current Golden Hawk star and key member of the team Laura Bartolini, who will be graduating this year. Osborne believes Skot will bring a lot of skill to the 2009-2010 season. “Tough two-way players like Bartolini and Skot are difficult to find,” he explains. “They are very important to a winning formula.”
Candice Styles made a connection to Laurier long before she finished high school. Cheryl Pounder, Laurier alum and Olympic gold medalist, proved to be a valuable resource for Styles when she was cut from the Under 18 Canadian Team last winter. “She gave me confidence back and told me what to do next,” said Styles. Laurier seemed like a great fit for this 18 year old, who found the community to be highly supportive of its sports teams. Osborne sees future star potential in Styles already. “She had a choice to attend any U.S. college out there,” he says. “She certainly is one of our key recruits to make up for the departures of Lauren Barch and Andrea Bevan.”
When asked how she feels the eight new recruits will fit into the provincial championship team, Ironside has expressed confidence in the matter. “Each and every one of the rookies have the strength and skill set that will allow them to fit into this team with ease,” she remarks. “They possess the potential to become big players for our team. As such, we are looking forward to what they are bringing to the table, and the contributions they will make for us both on and off the ice.”
The women’s hockey team will enter the 2009-2010 season with a positive, winning attitude and hopes for another top finish in the OUA as well as a spot in the CIS National Championship final. Overall, the Golden Hawks women’s hockey team has collected one national and eight provincial titles. The team has won the past six consecutive provincial titles since 2003.
To see the second half of the women's hockey recruits video, click here.