Sunday, 20 March 2016

Sensational sophomore Valerie Lamenta captures the Brodrick Trophy

Emerging as one of the surprises of the 2015-16 hockey season, Valeria Lamenta’s fairy tale season continues with recognition as the most outstanding player in Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s ice hockey. Only in her second year with the Guelph Gryphons, the resident of Montreal has made a significant impression.

From the outset, her nod as the Brodrick Trophy winner makes her the first recipient in Guelph program history. In addition, she is only the third goaltender honored, joining a class that includes former Canadian national team members Kim St. Pierre, who starred at McGill in 2003 when she won the trophy, and Wilfrid Laurier’s Liz Knox, who garnered the honor in 2010. As a side note, the other nominees for the honor included AUS representative Kelty Apperson of St. Thomas and a pair of former Brodrick Trophy winners, Sochi Winter Games gold medalist Melodie Daoust (2013) with RSEQ powerhouse McGill and Iya Gavrilova (2015), a superstar with Canada West’s Calgary Dinos.

Adding to the momentum of the trophy win is the fact that Lamenta not only gained a spot on the CIS First-Team All-Stars, she was also recognized as the OUA’s Most Valuable Player. Lamenta was joined on the CIS First-Team All-Stars by Gavrilova and Daoust. Julia Flinton, a blueliner with the Saskatchewan Huskies, Katelyn Gosling, who won a national title with Western in 2015 and Alexandra Vafina, a teammate of Gavrilova with Calgary were the other honored players on the group of First-Team All-Stars.

Fourth year forward Averi Nooren, who paced the Gryphons with 14 goals, along with blueliner Legih Shilton, a fifth year player who recorded a respectable 16 points, were named to the CIS Second-Team All-Stars. As a side note, head coach Rachel Flanagan was a finalist for the Coach of the Year Award.

Having competed at Le College Edouard-Montpetit, Lamenta had also stood between the pipes for Quebec’s Under-18 Provincial Team. Surprisingly, none of Montreal’s three major universities recruited Lamenta.

Opting to continue her career in Ontario, she began her career with the Guelph Gryphons third on their depth chart. Despite her role as a third-string goalie, serving in a backup capacity to senior goaltender Stephanie Nehring, Lamenta had already shown signs of brilliance, with a sparkling 1.21 goals against average and a .943 save percentage.

Gaining the opportunity to assume the starting role in 2015-16 after an injury to the projected number 1 goaltender, Lamenta was nothing short of sensational, improving on the solid numbers from her freshman season. While she logged a .957 save percentage and an .889 winning percentage, the number that stands out is her remarkable 0.99 goals against average, which led all goaltenders in CIS play.

Starting in 18 games, Lamenta would win 16 of them, while the Gryphons assembled the best record in the nation with 21 wins, compared to just two losses and a tie. Such a strong run was complemented by close to four straight months on top of the CIS national rankings, beginning on November 17, 2015, and the OUA postseason crown, the first for the program since 1998. 

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