Tommies hockey opens season with win against UNB

Players from St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick battle it out in hockey season opener on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (SRM Photography/STU Athletics)

The St. Thomas University Tommies women’s hockey team won their season opener 1-0 against the defending Atlantic University Sport (AUS) champion University of New Brunswick Reds, in a 13-round shootout.

Third-year goaltender Caroline Pietroski stopped 49 shots, as well as all 13 shots faced in an intense shootout. Emma Wilson netted the Tommies lone shootout goal with a quick forehand to backhand move, giving her just enough space to slide the puck past sprawled UNB goaltender Kendra Woodland for the game-winner. The fans at the Grant-Harvey Centre exploded when the puck crossed the line.

In a game that saw STU outshot 49-22, the team managed to create plenty of good looks through unselfish play and a willingness to make the extra pass. The Tommies showed great effort throughout the game, battling in corners for loose pucks and successfully killing all five penalties.

A goaltender from the University of New Brunswick blocks a hockey puck from entering the net during the hockey season opener against St. Thomas University on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (Submitted: SRM Photography/STU Athletics) 

“They all pull together to win. There is no one on this team who puts themselves above the
team,” said Peter Murphy, Tommies head coach.

Murphy said the team’s continuity will contribute to their success this season.

“It definitely helps when everyone already knows your systems. We tweak them a little
bit, but it helps,” he said. “This team is very interested in learning new stuff, so we’re trying to expand some of the things we’ve done in the past.”

New to the team is forward Amy Dvernichuk from Regina, Sask. who impressed with her intensity and decision-making.

“It was so exciting to play my first regular season game and come out with a win, especially against former champions like UNB. That was just as good as it could get,” said Dvernichuk.

This year’s team is a healthy mix of both fresh faces and returning players, with 16 players returning for the 2022-23 season.

One returning player is defence Libby Howatt, who is coming off an impressive season where she was awarded most improved player for the Tommies. She said her goal right now is continued progress after coming off an injury last season.

“I think we have a special group of girls this year and we all have a common goal.
Every day you keep going and try to make your way back up and prove yourself,” said Howatt.

Pre-season action showed the team looks stacked with goal scorers as each line provides plenty of offence.

Dvernichuk said as a new player, she has had an easy transition to the Tommies.

“Moving into such a family atmosphere, I haven’t had a moment where I’ve felt like an outsider. As soon as I walked through that door, everybody became your instant best friend and sister,” said Dvernichuk.

The Tommies are hoping to return to the AUS Championship, which they won in the 2018-19 season.

The team’s next home game is Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. when they face Saint Francis Xavier’s X-Women.