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Dinos women’s hockey looks to return to playoffs with rookie recruits

By David Song, June 28 2017 —

The Dinos women’s hockey team faced plenty of adversity in the 2016–2017 season, finishing with a disappointing 8–20–3 record. Their road back to the playoffs will begin with four new recruits — forwards Carley Wlad and Holly Reuther and defencemen Katie Duncan and Laine Grace. Wlad and Duncan are Alberta natives, while Grace is from Vernon, B.C. and Reuther is from Winnipeg.

“Duncan and Grace both give us some size. They both skate pretty well and move the puck pretty well. They’re definitely capable of stepping in right away,” said assistant coach Tim Bothwell. “The two forwards, [Wlad and Reuther], are both good skaters and really hard-working kids. Both can make a play and score.”

Head coach Danielle Goyette similarly praised the incoming first-years.

“Their work ethic off the ice is really good,” Goyette said. “For example, we have Carley Wlad coming in. She’s a triathlete. We know that she’s not going to be behind the eight-ball on the training side. It’s a good thing to add players like that. They’re going to bring a lot of willingness to do what it takes to be successful as a team.”

The recruits are entering a program with a significant legacy. Among notable Dinos alumni is four-time gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser, who retired in January. Goyette herself is a two-time gold medalist and was announced as a member of this year’s Hockey Hall of Fame class on June 26.

“The legacy that [Wickenheiser] left is what it takes to be a champion — what you have to do, not just on the ice, but in school too,” Goyette said. “During the time she was here, all the girls’ GPAs went to the next level.”

Bothwell also lauded Wickenheiser’s contributions to the Dinos.

“Wicks was a great player and she obviously helped the program win a national championship, which tells everybody that follows, ‘Hey, we can do it.’ But, like Danielle said, the bigger impact is how she became a great player and what she does off the ice and in the classroom.”

Though Wickenheiser is no longer with team, her influence is still felt. Goyette and Bothwell expect their players to rise to the challenge ahead, embodying the Olympic legend’s tireless work ethic.

“If you work hard, it gives you the best chance to have the best results, so that’s what we’re all working on right now — trying to prepare ourselves and instilling that work ethic,” Bothwell said.

Goyette refuses to use the team’s youth as an excuse for last season’s struggles.

“We can’t just rebuild year after year. It’s time to step up and make a difference this year,” Goyette said. “If everybody scores one more goal this season, we’ll make the playoffs. If everybody takes responsibility and wants to be the difference maker, it’s going to be exciting to see the team perform.”

According to the coaches, that change begins this summer — not merely in personnel, but also in the team’s identity.

“The team identity always changes year after year, because you add new players and the leaders change. As coaches, we can’t talk about the past. We have to think about the present,” Goyette said.

Goyette is optimistic about the upcoming season and wants to give the team a sense of responsibility.

“We need to meet with the players in September and decide — what’s our goal? What’s our identity? What do we want others to think about our team?” Goyette said. “The message has been sent to the players regarding what they need to work on. If they all do what we expect them to do, it’s going to be a fun season.”

The Dinos women’s hockey season starts on Sept. 16 against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.

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