Mixed feelings as COVID clip snowbirds wings
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Daily fall forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
SaltWire's cartoonists bring heart and humour to the news.
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19: October 23, 2020
The UPEI Panthers’ women’s hockey team is back together, training for the unknown of what a season during a pandemic will bring.
The Panthers, who began practising last week, had the final two players join the team Tuesday after completing their 14 days of self-isolation after travelling to Prince Edward Island from outside the Atlantic bubble.
“It’s nice being on the ice,” captain Kaylee Dufresne said before Monday’s practice. “We all look really good. We had a lot of time to train.”
The Atlantic University Sport (AUS) women’s hockey regular season usually begins in early October, but that won’t be the case this year. The conference has already determined there will be no games in 2020, and a decision on what happens in January is expected within about a month’s time.
“We’re hopeful that the AUS will be able to operate in some type of fashion,” head coach Bruce Donaldson said.
Despite the uncertainty, the players are on the ice twice a week until Oct. 1 when a third day will be added. They are also doing off-ice training three times a week.
“I think it’s important for us not to slow down,” Dufresne said. “We just need to keep focused and keep going 100 per cent.”
The Panthers hosted the 2019 U Sports nationals, and the first day of the 2020 competition, also in Charlottetown, was in the books when the tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic. The Panthers didn’t get a chance to play a game, and that sting remains.
“It sucks, but we’re hopeful for something this year, and I think that’s all we really have right now to hold on to is the hope,” Dufresne said.
The Montreal Carabins were awarded the right to host the 2021 nationals before the pandemic. The team, which marked its 10th anniversary in 2019-20, has been to nine nationals and captured two gold, two silver and two bronze medals. They were in Charlottetown when the 2020 championship was halted.
“We really hope that there will be an opportunity for us to go to Montreal,” Donaldson said. “We still have a good core group that’s there. We’ll certainly miss the players that graduated, but the plan is definitely not to take a back seat.”
The core includes goalie Camille Scherger, defencemen Sophie Vandale and Ally Clements plus forwards Jolena Gillard, Jenna Pellerin, Dufresne, Faith Steeves and Taylor Gillis, who were the team’s top-five scorers last season.
“The last two years I’ve noticed this team really excel and put ourselves at the top of the standings in the AUS,” Dufresne said. “I think we’re one to watch out for now.”
This year’s roster is set with 23 players (13 forwards, seven defencemen, three goalies), including six rookies. Dufresne said players are spending a lot of time getting to know their teammates to build a strong bond early in the academic year.
A look at this year’s rookies with the UPEI Panthers’ women’s hockey team.
Alyssa Nolan Stittsville, Ont.
Avery Penner Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
Belle Jacobs Sydney, N.S.
Sophie Bujold Riverview, N.B.
Ruby Loughton Toronto
Paige Outhouse Williams Lake, B.C.