The 2013-2014 season was one to remember for the University of New Brunswick’s women’s hockey team.
Not only did two Red Blazers, Heather Braun and Charity Walls, lead the league in points, the team also captured the Eastern Canadian Women’s Hockey League (ECWHL) title on March 16.
After having finished second below Acadia University during the regular season, the playoffs served as redemption as they went on to defeat Acadia 3-1 in the finals, taking the gold medal.
Goal scorers for the final game were Heather Braun, Tasha Dickinson and Brittany Carroll.
Karine Meunier-Pelletier, a second year student in the accelerated nursing program, led the team as captain and was thrilled to hoist the ECWHL cup during her final season.
“Winning the championship was by far the most unreal feeling,” said Meunier-Pelletier. “For a couple of us on the team it was our last season playing competitive hockey and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my career than by bringing the cup home.”
She also said it represented the “pot of gold at the end of a long journey of hard work and sacrifices” for the team.
Although the Red Blazers’ season ended in triumph, the team still faced a number of challenges — some heartbreaking – over the course of the year.
“We faced a major challenge at the beginning of the season with the passing of our assistant coach, Gary Arbour,” said Meunier-Pelletier. “That tragedy just drove home the point that we had to bring the cup back to where it belonged — in his honour.”
“We also struggled on the road throughout the season, and just racked up those ties. I think our record of 5-2-5 definitely reflects that.”
Meunier-Pelletier credits the team’s coaching staff, headed by Mary Doucet, for many of their accomplishments this year.
One of the main lessons she learned from Doucet was, regardless of the score, they’re a team.
“We are one unit and that we have to keep working together if we want to come out on top. We all have to want to win in order to succeed.”
The end of the season is certainly bittersweet for the team’s captain who, after completing five seasons with the University of Prince Edward Island and UNB, will be stepping down from competitive hockey.
“I’m sure I will miss it, [but] there comes a time for everything,” she said.
But just because her time with university hockey is coming to and end, Meunier-Pelletier plans on becoming involved with the coaching community at Dalhousie University, where she first made her name as a player.
“The sport has played such a big role in my life that I would love to give back and share my passion and love for the game.”
Although several of the team’s key players will be completing their athletic careers this year, Meunier-Pelletier believes that the future is bright for the UNB Red Blazers.
A number of new recruits, who she said have grown as players and as individuals over the season, put her mind at ease.
Among a number of strong rookies, Hannah Nabuurs stood out as a potential rising star in the future.
“She will definitely be the solid wall on defence and is able to calm the play down when needed. She is a really talented young player and I expect great things from her.”
For Meunier-Pelletier and her teammates, the 2013-2014 season will certainly be remembered as both one of victorious endings, and strong new beginnings.