Women’s hockey team gets ready for new season with 11 new faces

The University of Ottawa Women’s hockey program will look to build on their last season in the Réseau de Sports Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), where they finished fourth place in regular season play, and lost in the first round to McGill.

The Gees fell just below .500 going 9–10–1 in regular season play. They lost to the eventual U Sports runner-up in the McGill Martlets, who themselves fell in double overtime to the University of Alberta in the U Sports finals.

The program is boosting 11 new recruits on their team this year. Head coach Yanick Evola likes what he’s seen so far.

“Eleven new faces in the team this year, we’re really impressed with the level of play from our recruits,” said Evola. “Since day one, everybody has given good contributions so far.”

The Gee-Gees have two NCAA transfers joining the roster for this year, and Evola is hoping they can have an immediate impact both on and off the ice.

“We have Alyssa Macmillan from North Dakota and Cassidy Herman from the University of Maine, so these are real good quality players. These two players might have a little more experience, so as far as leadership they’ll make a difference,” said Evola.

Fifth-year defender Bryanna Neuwald and third-year forward Mélodie Bouchard participated in Hockey Canada’s summer showcase, and as returning players they will be counted on to produce at high levels again this year.

“They are two big leaders in our team, for our program. It’s great that we have some players that are representing our team and our university at these levels,” said Evola. “They bring back some very valuable experience, and come back bigger and better, and they will continue to play big roles for us.”

The Gee-Gees took their first pre-season game 5–4 in a shootout over the Brock Badgers. With so many new players, getting a good win—even in exhibition play—can lead to good things moving forward.

“We saw a lot of good things. One of the things we saw was that Bouchard and Sara Lachance were matched together and produced two big goals for us,” said Evola.

Sara Lachance is an excellent recruit who played for L’Université de Montréal and professionally for Les Canadiennes de Montréal in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. While it’s still early on, Bouchard and Lachance could be lethal on the offensive end as they have already shown extreme poise and chemistry together.

With so many new players, the Gee-Gees will have some growing to do early in the year. But with the right combination of veterans, recruits, and transfers, they have the potential to compete with the perennial powerhouses in the RSEQ, McGill and Université de Montréal.

The Gees’ regular-season home opener is on Saturday Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Minto Sports Complex. Tickets can be purchased from the Gee-Gees’ website.