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Rayside-Balfour Canadians
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Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017
A summer of activity for Lady Wolves, current and former
2017-08-07
by Randy Pascal

When it comes to the world of elite female hockey, there really isn't much of an off-season anymore.

A solid grouping of Sudbury's post-secondary girls' hockey talent, along with the up and comers in the bantam and midget ranks have recently been sharing ice at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex, in anticipation of the upcoming 2017-2018 season.

With her freshman season with the University of Ottawa Gee Gees now behind her, Collège Notre-Dame graduate Taylor McGaughey is looking forward to stepping on the ice with much the mindset that she enjoyed throughout the majority of her time with the Sudbury Lady Wolves.

"You finish your third year of midget, you know everybody, you're confident every game," McGaughey recalled. "Then you get to a new team, new coaches, a new league, you're more nervous, there's more people in the crowd and you don't feel as confident."

"That caught me a little off guard. I'm excited to go back now, no nerves - the confidence is up again." In fact, McGaughey, like so many others, would feel the stress of making the jump to the U Sports circuit, despite the fact that from the standpoint of a skill-set alone, the adjustment was fully manageable.

"I think I was comfortable with my speed, I was able to keep up with the game, or even be ahead, at times," she said. "That kept me up with everybody right off the bat. With my skill, it was hard to be going so fast all the time and have my hands going at the same speed."

Suiting up for 19 of the 20 games the Gee Gees played last year and picking up her first assist at the university level, McGaughey knows that attention to detail will help move her up the lineup in her sophomore season.

"I changed positions a few times, went from center to the wing," she said. "I think I am just getting used to the wing now. Now, it's the little things that coaches are looking for that I have to focus on."

The comfort that McGaughey will feel in year two should be increased a notch or two by the presence of a very familiar face, as twin sister Meagan joins the Ottawa team after transferring over from the McGill Martlets early in the 2016-2017 campaign.

"I'm hoping they put us together," said Taylor. "We have really good chemistry together on the ice, it's always been there. I would like to have a chance to play with her again. I'm just happy we're on the same team, regardless."

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Talent identification for the OWHA (Ontario Women's Hockey Association) continued this summer, with a pair of Sudbury natives taking part in the recently completed U16 High Performance Program at the Nottawasaga Inn & Resort.

Forward Madisyn Papineau and goaltender Mireille Kingsley both worked their way through the initial set of camps in April and May, joining much of the top 2002 born talent in the province for the four day event.

"It was a lot different this year, there were a lot less players than with the (Ontario) Summer Games last year," said Papineau. "And it wasn't a tournament, just four games, but we actually got a chance to practice with this one, a practice every day."

In fact, the game plan, at least for now, is for the OWHA to stage the High Performance camp on the off years from Summer Games competition. For players like Papineau and Kingsley, it's a chance to measure their abilities next to the elite in their peer group.

"I think my skating really helps, I can keep up with them," said Papineau. "It seems that everyone can skate, everyone can shoot. It's more the mental part of the game where everyone is kind of different."

Naturally, the games drew a healthy cross-section of female hockey talent evaluators, a fact not at all lost on the local tandem. "Everyone is constantly giving 100%, especially with all of the scouts watching you," noted Kingsley.

"You just want to be at your best. There's lots of high talented girls there." Shooting up a few more inches and now standing 5'9" as she prepares for her first year of midget hockey, the multi-sport athlete has tried not to change her fundamentals given the recent increase in height.

"My game has always been to stay square to the puck and challenge, always challenging and showing my confidence," said Kingsley. "I think scouts are looking for that."

In early local commitment news, defenceman Madison Laberge has made a verbal commitment to the St Lawrence Saints of the NCAA, the same school that former CND graduate Josée Belanger attended. Heading into her grade 11 year at Confederation Secondary, Laberge should begin play with St Lawrence in the fall of 2019.

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The bar has been set high for Sudbury Bantam "AA" Lady Wolves incoming head coach Mike Lachance, taking over a team that enjoyed a very successful 2016-2017 campaign. No surprise that the bulk of that roster will not be at his disposal, with all but four players having moved on to the midget ranks.

Still, with the likes of Lauren Fearn, Kelsey Dunn, Chloe Leduc and Jenna Lachance all back in the fold, and several welcomed additions on board, the team is looking to carve out their own path to prosperity this winter.

Backstopped by the goaltending tandem of Kristen Mrozewski and Kiana Trottier, the bantams roster also features Elizabeth Laberge, Emilee Pelletier, Tessa Favero, Ashtyn Denomme, Aoife Mahaffy, Emily MacIsaac, Breanna Coyne, Elise Bélanger, Arijana Tuttle, Kayla Thompson and Ellee Lacasse.

The team will open tournament play at the Stoney Creek Showcase on the weekend of September 22nd to the 24th.

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