Monday, 3 February 2014

Super rookie Alyssa Baldin paying strong dividends for upstart Furies squad

Selected in the fifth round of the 2013 CWHL Draft, Alyssa Baldin is not only one of the draft’s sleeper picks, she is building a strong case as Rookie of the Year. For the week of February 2, Baldin was not only in the Top 10 for the CWHL scoring race, she was third overall in scoring among CWHL rookies, trailing Boston’s Jillian Dempsey and Calgary’s Danielle Stone. Of note, her nine assists tie Dempsey and Blake Bolden for the lead among rookies.

In a season that saw the Furies miss the likes of Rebecca Johnston, Natalie Spooner and Jenn Wakefield due to Sochi 2014, questions surrounded the club’s ability to score. With her presence, Baldin has emerged as a perfect fit for the blue and white.

As a former captain with the Windsor Lancers of the CIS, she brings a tremendous maturity to a squad looking to return to their first Clarkson Cup finals since 2011. Having grown up idolizing Jayna Hefford, there is no question that she emulates her love of the game and smooth scoring skills.

Her CWHL debut on November 9 was certainly a sign that the Furies had a budding superstar in their ranks. With a multi-point effort against the Calgary Inferno, she was the key factor in the 3-2 victory. A November 17 loss to the Montreal Stars, one of the signature franchises in the CWHL, resulted in another multi-point effort, showing that Baldin could measure up against the league’s elite.

Although she has endured a few scoreless games, Baldin has proven to bring disciplined play to the ice. Her ability to maintain a respectable plus/minus rating of +6 and only four penalty minutes is testament to such skills.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that she has posted four-point games on two separate occasions this season. A 7-1 whitewash during a December 1 road match in Calgary saw Baldin log two power-play goals and two assists. She would repeat the feat on January 5 against cross-town rival Brampton. Once again on the road, she would contribute two goals and two assists (of which one was short-handed) in the 9-1 trouncing.

With her five power-play assists ranking third in the league and tops on the Furies, Baldin plays with the expertise of a veteran. Keeping her game simple, she plays on a line with two-time Frozen Four champ Carolyne Prevost, resulting in remarkable on-ice chemistry.

Although Baldin’s leadership skills and maturity are certainly shining through this season, there is no question that the presence of fellow teammates and veterans has been essential. Players such as Meghan Aarts, Kori Cheverie, Lexie Hoffmeyer and Britni Smith have been a positive influence for Baldin, helping her adjust to the league.

Part of that adjustment must also be attributed to head coach Sommer West. One of the top 10 all-time scorers in CWHL history, West also played with the national softball team at the 2000 Summer Games. Based on her time as a former player, she has the understanding, empathy and ability to motivate while bringing the best out of her players.

One can see that she has a strong appreciation for the game and a respect for those that played before her. Understanding that signifies that she has all the makings of a future captain in this league. As fellow rookies Katie Smith and Holly Carrie-Mattimoe begin to find their scoring touch, the dark horse Furies should not be taken lightly. 

Image obtained from: Facebook

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