CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – A fastball tournament helped the UPEI Panthers land its latest hockey recruit.
Shelby Foran was a shortstop with the Moncton Rebels at the 2016 under-18 girls’ national championship in Charlottetown. She spent the week in the city and stayed on the UPEI campus.
“She clearly told me it was a big influence in her decision,” Panthers head coach Bruce Donaldson said Wednesday. “It kind of highlights the importance of the city to be able to host national events.”
Under U Sports rules, teams can only bring players in for 72 hours on recruiting trips. With Foran playing in the tournament, she had an opportunity to see the campus and city for a longer period of time.
Foran caught the Panthers coaching staff’s attention a year ago when they were in the United States watching current Panther Kaylee Dufresne play in a tournament.
“That’s when we started the conversation (with Shelby) about the possibility of coming to play at UPEI,” Donaldson explained.
The Miramichi, N.B., native has played forward while attending Winchendon School, a college preparatory boarding school in Winchendon, Mass., the past three years. She previously played for the North Stars in Miramichi and with the New Brunswick provincial team.
“I am very excited to play with the UPEI Panthers because, even at a young age, I always wanted to play university hockey,” she said. “I can’t imagine a better place to make those dreams come true than at UPEI. When I toured UPEI and the city of Charlottetown, it felt like home.”
Donaldson said the five-foot-eight Foran brings good size and offensive ability to the Panthers.
“She has great reach, is a strong skater, sees the ice very well and, most importantly, can finish with consistency,” he said. “While we expect that she will immediately be an impact player, we see Shelby as one of those athletes who will continue to improve each year as the team continues to build towards the future.”
She will be joining a young Panthers lineup. UPEI (9-5-1) has nine rookies this season, but three of the team’s top four scorers are freshmen.
Goalie Marie-Soleil Deschenes, defenceman Bria Harding and forward Kiana Strand are the only players in their final year of eligibility.
Teagan Pringle, Emma Martin and Cornelia Geib are the team’s three fourth-year players.
The Panthers are working on adding a couple more players in the coming weeks as it continues to build its squad.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from right across the country this year,” said Donaldson, who noted having Atlantic University Sport (AUS) teams in St. Thomas and Saint Mary’s ranked second and third, respectively, in the country has helped. “I think that really brings AUS to the forefront outside the AUS.”
Foran, who is the captain of the Winchendon team, plans to complete a degree majoring in kinesiology.
“I look forward to working hard, both academically and athletically, at UPEI and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead,” she said.
The Panthers head to Fredericton, N.B., Saturday for its first road game after the Christmas break, taking on St. Thomas at 3 p.m. UPEI plays the Université de Moncton Sunday at 2 p.m. in Moncton.
The UPEI women’s hockey team recently raised $860.40 in a door-to-door campaign to support the Alzheimer's Society of P.E.I.