Wednesday, 11 December 2013

10 inspiring women’s hockey players from 2013

Tessa Bonhomme
Captain, Toronto Furies

As a role model to a generation of young girls, Tessa Bonhomme is one of Canada’s most popular athletes. Serving as the Toronto Furies captain, she has helped establish the club as a solid contender for the Clarkson Cup.

Her most notable accomplishment may have been the grace and dignity that came with handling the fact that she had been untimely released from Canada’s centralization camp. One of the more controversial moves in the history of the Canadian women’s team, she received an outpouring of support from fans through all facets of social media.

Kim Deschenes
Captain, Montreal Carabins
Forward, Canadian National Team FISU

Competing with the Montreal Carabins, she has helped the club qualify for the CIS Nationals in every season that she has played with the club. 2013 would mark a significant milestone for Deschenes as she led the Carabins to an upset of the undefeated McGill Martlets in the QSSF Finals.With the victory, the Carabins rode such momentum on the way to their first-ever CIS National Title. Named to the Canadian National Team that shall compete in the 2013 Winter Universiade, Deschenes has established herself as one of the finest leaders in CIS women’s hockey.

Karly Heffernan
Gold medalist, 2013 IIHF U18 Worlds

The latest in a quickly expanding line of overtime heroes in the history of the Canadian National Team, Heffernan made her mark at the 2013 IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds. Scoring the gold-medal winning goal in overtime against the archrival United States, she would help the Canadian squad to their second gold medal in as many years. Eligible for the 2014 IIHF Under-18 Worlds, she will be counted upon to provide an even bigger leadership role.

Amanda Kessel
2013 Patty Kazmaier Award Winner
Gold Medalist, 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds

Having established herself as the world’s greatest women’s hockey player, Amanda Kessel had a 2013 to remember. The winner of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, it was part of a 2012-13 NCAA season where she solidified her legend.

A 100-point campaign with the Minnesota Golden Gophers was highlighted by an NCAA Frozen Four title that capped off an undefeated season. She would ride such momentum as a member of the US National Team that defeated Canada on their home ice to capture the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Ottawa.

Hilary Knight
2013 Clarkson Cup champion and CWHL Most Valuable Player
Gold Medalist, 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds

With a star that continues to rise, Hilary Knight is more than just an elite hockey player but an American sporting hero. As a rookie with the Boston Blades in the CWHL, she would stake her claim as one of the league’s elite snipers. Finishing third in the CWHL scoring race, she would lead all American-born players in scoring for the 2012-13 season.

It was a sign of greater things to come for Knight. During the CWHL Awards Gala, she would make history as the first American-born player to capture the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. She would follow it up by leading the Blades in postseason scoring as the club captured the Clarkson Cup.

Genevieve Lacasse
2013 Clarkson Cup champion
Gold Medalist, 2013 Four Nations Cup

Part of the new generation of women’s hockey goaltenders for Hockey Canada, Genevieve Lacasse made her mark in 2013. After a four-year stellar career where she rewrote the record books for Providence College, Lacasse was selected by the Boston Blades in the 2012 CWHL Draft.

The move would prove to pay remarkable dividends for the black and gold. In addition to finishing the regular season as the CWHL goaltending champion, she would become the first rookie goaltender to lead her team to the Clarkson Cup.

Invited to Hockey Canada’s Centralization Camp in anticipation of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, she is carrying in the proud tradition of talented Canadian goalies such as Sami Jo Small and Kim St. Pierre.

Yekaterina Pashkevitch
Bronze Medalist, 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds

If one athlete emerged as the feel-good story of the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships, it was Russia’s Yekaterina Pashkevitch. As the oldest player competing in the event, the 40 year-old would earn a bronze medal with the Russian contingent at the Women’s Worlds.

Having played on the first-ever Russian national women’s team in 1993, she is a link to an important chapter in Russian women’s hockey. While she took a sabbatical from the game after the 2006 Torino Winter Games (which also included a stint playing women’s tackle football in New England), her return to the ice is one of inspiration, proving that it is never too late to pursue one’s dreams.

Noora Raty
2013 NCAA Frozen Four champion
Silver Medalist, 2013 Four Nations Cup

One of the greatest women’s hockey goalies in the world, Raty provides the Finnish national team with an opportunity to win in every game. The biggest moment of her career may have come during the 2013 Four Nations Cup when she stood between the pipes for Finland’s victory over the United States to advance to the gold medal game.

Such an accomplishment complemented the end of her sparkling NCAA career in the spring of 2013. In her final season with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, she was a key factor in the squad experiencing an undefeated season and an NCAA Frozen Four triumph. 

Kassidy Sauve
Gold Medalist, 2013 Canada U18 National Championships

Following in a long line of outstanding Canadian women’s hockey goaltenders, Kassidy Sauve holds remarkable potential. Having made history as the first female player to compete in the OHL Cup, her stock has risen dramatically.

Playing for the Canadian National Under-18 team in an exhibition series against Team USA, she is emerging as a strong contender to stand between the pipes for Canada at the 2014 IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds. Competing in 2013-14 with the defending PHWL champion Whitby Wildcats, it would come as no surprise if she led the squad to its second straight title.

Dominique Thibault
2013 Clarkson Cup finalist
World Champion, 2013 Red Bull Crashed Ice

Known affectionately to her fans as Dangerous Dominique Thibault, she is one of the elite snipers on a talent-heavy Montreal Stars roster. With teammates such as Meghan Agosta-Marciano, Ann-Sophie Bettez and Caroline Ouellette, it may be easy to overlook someone of her talents.

She would manage to make her mark in 2013 as she earned global celebrity. In addition to her exploits on the frozen perimeters of CWHL rinks, Thibault is also a competitor in the Red Bull Crashed Ice series. She would compete at the 2013 Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships, grabbing the title.

Honorable Mention: Julie Paetsch

As the first Western Women’s Canadian Football League player selected in the history of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League draft, Julie Paetsch has landed herself a unique place in the lore of women’s sport in Canada. Having helped the Canadian National Women’s football team to a silver medal at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, she is also suiting up for the CWHL’s Calgary Inferno. As one of the leading scorers on the Inferno, she is poised to help the squad qualify for their first-ever postseason appearance.

Honorable Mention: Fannie Desforges

Having won the bronze medal at the 2013 Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships, it marked a year of many milestones for the fantastic Fannie Desforges. In her final season with the Ottawa Gee-Gees, she served as team captain, helping the club to a third-place finish. Of note, her final game with the Gee-Gees would take place in a special exhibition game against the Czech Repubilc national women’s team. Selected in the 2013 CWHL Draft by the Montreal Stars, she has the opportunity to extend what promises to be an exciting career. 

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