Hockey season is upon us once again, and the Tommies are ready to roll into their Atlantic University Sport season.
Head coach Peter Murphy has his team set, and with 19 returning players, the expectation is to improve on a 12-8-4 season from last year.
“We are coming in with an older team that is almost identical to last season’s, so we are expecting a big year,” said team captain Emily Oleksuk. “We have all the tools to be a top team, along with the experience and work ethic so I am really excited to see how things mend together.”
The Tommies had three players move on this offseason with forward Teah Anderson and defenseman Samantha Squires graduating, while goaltender Jaclyn Purcell slides over to UNB to play for the Reds this season. Filling in for those three are a pair of defensemen; Brooke Stanford (Whitby, ON), Florence Awde (Mount Albert, ON) and goaltender Tristyn Elford (New Liskeard, ON).
“This year's recruits, Flo, Brooke, and Tristyn should definitely be on every fan's radar,” said defenseman Alex Swift. “All three of them bring unique and important qualities to the team both on and off the ice.”
The Tommies are returning their top point getter in defenseman Alex Woods (Courtice, ON), their leading goal scorer in Olivia Reid (Aurora, ON), and team MVP Abby Clarke (Springdale, NL). Woods participated in Hockey Canada’s Summer Showcase with the U-Sport All-Stars this past summer, a testament to her work ethic and skill. Oleksuk and Swift are excited to see what those two bring this season.
“She had a great first year, but I know she will just continue to improve and grow as a player. She is a wonderful asset to the team and will continue to be during her time at STU,” Swift said about Reid.
“Alex Woods wrapped up USPORTS camp at the end of the summer and is coming off a stellar season last year,” said Oleksuk. “Another veteran to keep an eye on is 2nd year forward Rita Dorofeeva. She came in and killed fitness testing this year and definitely brought the confidence to have a great year.”
The Tommies were a well-balanced team last year, finishing 3rd in goals for and 4th in goals against. With a solid core returning the team is looking to build on last year’s finish.
“Carrying forward from last year we are trying to create a very mobile team that can get up ice quickly from all zones,” said Murphy. “We like to pressure as much as possible and that will be our keys moving forward.”
“Coach Peter is really pushing us to be a fast and offensive team this year,” said Oleksuk. “We have been working hard in the gym and on the ice to adjust our play and we continued to get better with every exhibition game. Don't be surprised to see our defense rushing the puck either.”
“With the addition of UNB women’s hockey in the AUS is seeing a real upsurge in interest,” said Murphy about this season. “People in our community are talking about it but elsewhere in the league as well. This will make for an exciting year.”
The Tommies get their season underway on Friday when they travel to UPEI to take on the Panthers, before they come back to Fredericton for a date with the UNB Reds at the Aitken Centre. First home action for the Tommies will be Saturday, 20th when they host the Dalhousie Tigers at the Grant Harvey Centre. Season passes for Hockey and All-Season passes can be purchased at the J.B.O’Keefe Fitness Centre or at https://www.gotommies.ca/fan-zone/tickets.