The word “success” is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. By that definition the 2018-19 St. Thomas Tommies women’s hockey season was a massive success.
The Tommies had several firsts in program history, highlighted by winning the Atlantic University Sport Championship in a dramatic three-game series comeback over the St. Francis Xavier X-Women.
“Over 1000 fans, incredible play and to finish your last home game winning a championship, that would have to be the big one,” said head coach Peter Murphy when asked about the highlights from his team’s season.
The regular season had the Tommies finish 22-5-1, good for first in the AUS, highlighted by a 12-game win streak that had the Tommies perfect in November, capped off by a 2-1 shootout win over the X-Women.
“That was an amazing game,” said Murphy. “Back and forth with momentum and we saw a real team chemistry on the bench [caught on camera]. That game likely set up our second half success.”
Murphy was named the AUS Coach of the Year for his efforts on the year, another first in program history. Joining Murphy with AUS accolades were captain Emily Oleksuk, who was named the league’s Top Defensive Player and 2nd Team All-Star, Abby Clarke was also named to the 2nd team, while Alex Woods and Lauren Henman were named 1st Team All-Stars.
“They did the work and finished first,” said Murphy about his team and league award winners. “Two first team and two second team all stars were definitely deserved. Abby led the country for half the year in most statistics, Lauren was near the top in goals, Alex was second in the country in points by a defenseman and Emily was second in points in the AUS and had 8 game winning goals. Emily definitely earned her top defensive player award, she is one of the top centers in our league.”
Team leaders for statistics were: Henman, with 18 goals, Oleksuk, with 23 assists and 34 points, while Clarke led the team in all goaltending categories with a 1.50 GAA, .943 SV% and a 17-6 record.
With the AUS Championship victory the Tommies earned a birth in the U Sports Women’s Hockey Championship, hosted by the UPEI Panthers. STU came into the tournament as the fourth seed and faced the RSEQ runner up McGill Martlets in the first matchup. The Tommies fell 10-2, with goals from Lauren Henman and Megan Pardy. With the loss against the Martlets the Tommies were matched up with the OUA runner up Toronto Varsity Blues, with a chance to play in the consolation final on the line. STU fell 2-1 to the Varsity Blues, with their lone goal coming from Alex Woods. Abby Clarke made 29 saves in the loss.
The Tommies will graduate eight athletes: Taylor Cook, Stephanie Ford, Paige Jackson, Lauren Henman, Becky Conner, Alisha Gilbert, Kristina Kocsis and Abby Clarke.
“Our grads are fine examples of our program,” said Murphy. “They have all come so far from where they were in first year. They have improved in their performances but more than that I admire the people they have become. They will be positive influences on so many young people in their future. That is how they will be remembered by me at least.”
The Tommies will take their offseason to train and prepare to defend their AUS title in 2019-20.