Thursday, 7 June 2012

Alberta Honeybadgers look to national team stars to bolster their blueline

The recently christened Alberta Honeybadgers have several opportunities in the upcoming draft to upgrade their roster. One area where the squad can benefit is with the quality available at the defensive position. If defense wins championships, two members of the Canadian National Team may fit the bill.

Jocelyne Larocque recently claimed gold at the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont. Tara Watchorn earned gold at the 2011 MLP Nations Cup, and wore the Maple Leaf at the 2011 IIHF Women’s Worlds. For both players, it is just the latest in a long line of awards and accolades in their storied careers.
Larocque first gained prominence as a member of the Ste. Anne three (Larocque, Melanie Gagnon, and Bailey Bram). All three hailed from the same small community in Manitoba and participated in the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four. One of the last cuts for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games team, Larocque is poised to help the Canadian team repeat as champions at the 2014 Sochi games.
A two time national champion with the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, Larocque has had the privilege of meeting United States Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. With the Bulldogs, Larocque reached many firsts: the first Bulldog defender to be an All-American selection, and eclipse the 100 point barrier. She ended her career with the Bulldogs by being named WCHA Defensive Player of the Year.
No stranger to competitive hockey in Alberta, Larocque is a former member of the Calgary Oval X-Treme, winning the Western Women’s Hockey League title in 2005. Having recently played with the Manitoba Maple Leafs, Larocque would be a great asset on the blueline for the Honeybadgers. Should Larocque claim a Clarkson Cup and Olympic Winter Gold (to go with her World Championship and Frozen Four title), she would only be the third woman to accomplish the rare grand slam in women’s hockey (former Bulldogs Jenny Potter and Caroline Ouellette were the first two).
Another player that would add a new element to the Honeybadgers is national team member Tara Watchorn. A 5’10’’ stalwart, she was a teammate of Larocque at the 2010 MLP Cup (with the gold medal winning Under-22 Canadian team), Watchorn has also experienced victory at multiple levels in her career. From silver and bronze medals in a career with Durham of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (Ontario), to a Hockey East title with Boston University, she has the presence to make an impact on the Honeybadgers defense.
The year 2007 marked the beginning of several accomplishments in her career. From winning gold with Team Ontario at the 2007 Canada Winter Games (a team that featured current CWHL Draft hopefuls Rebecca Johnston, Laura McIntosh, Carolyne Prevost, Natalie Spooner, Jenn Wakefield, and Catherine White), to playing in the first ever game of the Canadian Under-18 women’s program (contested on August 23, 2007 in Ottawa), Watchorn was making a statement that she was one to watch. In 2008, she would compete at the inaugural IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds (winning a silver medal), and graduate to the Under-22 program a year later.
In her freshman campaign with the Boston University Terriers (2008-09), she participated in every game, while earning nods to the New England Writers Division I All-Rookie and All-Star teams, respectively. The following season, she scored the game winning goal in overtime at the 2010 Hockey East championship game, giving the Terriers its first ever Hockey East crown.
With a draft that features some of the greatest players in a generation, Larocque and Watchorn are can’t miss prospects. True building blocks for any franchise, their ability to win and produce results will bring immediate dividends to the organization(s) that select them. Both players are poised to bring their game to the CWHL and make their Clarkson Cup dreams come true.

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