With less than a year remaining before the returning women’s varsity hockey team makes its on-ice debut, the team’s inaugural roster is beginning to take shape.
The process of assembling the team for the 2018-19 season began over the summer when recently hired head coach Sarah Hilworth announced that forwards Paige Grenier, Alayna Wagstaff and Tamina Kehler had all signed letters of intent to join UNB next year.
Soon after, it was announced that the team had landed its first defender in Jenna Himer of Peace River, Alberta. Himer currently plays for the Red Deer AAA Sutter Fund Chiefs in the Alberta Female Hockey League, where she recorded two assists in 24 games in her second season.
Sarah Hilworth believes Himer can be a core component of the team’s defensive unit, adding, “She sees the game at a high level and holds herself to a high standard that allows her to compete shift-in and shift-out.”
Hilworth continued adding defensive pieces with the early-September announcement that Emma Borbandy of Langdon, Alberta, and Reece Laumback of Wainwright, Alberta had also inked letters of intent. Both defenders are currently playing in the Alberta Female Hockey League.
In late September, it was announced that the team had received a commitment from its first goaltender in 17-year-old Hailey Martens. Martens, a native of Ladysmith, British Columbia, will play the remainder of the season with the Pacific Steelers in the Junior Women’s Hockey League.
Another goaltender was added just two weeks later—this time, it was highly-touted netminder Kendra Woodland of Kamloops, British Columbia. Woodland is currently playing for a male team in the British Columbia’s Major Midget League and had previously committed to playing for the University of North Dakota in the NCAA before that program was cut.
Woodland said she chose UNB over other schools in Canada and the US because she was impressed by the school and wanted to work with Hilworth.
“When I first met Coach Hilworth, I knew I wanted to play for her because I really liked her as a person and her philosophies of the game, so that played a huge part in my decision. I’m really excited to be able to play for such a driven person,” Woodland said in a press release.
Woodland was one of three goalies selected to play for Hockey Canada’s under-18 team at a recent series in Lake Placid; she is also on the shortlist of players named to represent Canada at the upcoming U18 Women’s World Championship, taking place this January in Russia.