Young players benefit women’s hockey team this year

The St. Thomas women’s hockey team went through a bit of a growing season, bringing 10 new players into their system.

The Tommies finished the season with a record of 10-10-4, losing the most overtime games out of any team in the AUS.

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)
(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

Tommies coach Peter Murphy was impressed with how some of his rookies on offense adjusted to the league, but felt it was a little harder for the defense to adapt. He said that comes with the position.

“It’s the nature of your mistakes being amplified,” said Murphy. “If you make a mistake as a forward, there is a 180 feet before something bad can happen. If you make a mistake as a defenseman, chances are something’s going to happen. If you make a mistake as a goal tender a red light is going to go on.”

The Tommies also brought in two new goaltenders: Taylor Cook and Abby Clarke.  Both were new to the program, but Murphy didn’t pick a starter until the last couple weeks of the season. Then he made the call to put Abby Clarke in net, as he wanted to prepare Clarke for playoffs.

“For both being rookies they had good seasons,” said Murphy.

The Tommies, who finished in fourth, played the fifth-placed Dalhousie Tigers. They won two and lost two against the Dalhousie Tigers, and had home ice advantage for the three-game playoff series. The Tommies started out on fire, destroying the Tigers in the first game. The Tommies won 7-3, and rookie Lauren Henman scored four of those seven goals.

“[Henman] had an awesome year. She’s a big kid. She’s got some physical size. She can take people on one-on-one. She got four game-winning goals for us, so she was a clutch player for us big time,” said Murphy.

Another rookie who provided a lot of offense for STU was Becky Connor. Connor scored a team-leading 11 goals on the season, along with seven assists.

“She’s so small. You wouldn’t expect her to have such a rookie year,” said Murphy. “If you really delve into the stats, she plays centre. She played against all the top players, and she lead the team in plus minus.”

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)
(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

Murphy thought his team was strong offensively. What didn’t go well during the season was their penalty kill. Last season, the Tommies were one of the top at killing penalties in the entire country. This season, they were one of the worst at it.

Murphy said, though it is still something he feels needs to be worked on, the stats are skewed a little bit. The Tommies didn’t take a lot of penalties, so when they got scored on during their few penalties it made it look like a bigger problem. He looks to address that for next year.

Though they won the first game of the series, they lost the next two games against Dalhousie, ending their season.

“Sometimes, even though you dominate, not all the bounces go your way,” said Tommies captain Kelty Apperson. “We learned to compete and be stronger.”

Apperson is looking forward to next season, where this season’s rookies will be past the adjustment stage and can start playing with some experience.

“Going into next year, having those (nine) staying and working with them again, it’s going to be a really good core group of girls,” said Apperson. 

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