Katie Duncan has one last shot at championship glory, while Alisha Sealey’s making her debut.
For the two Gaels defenders, it’s their point totals that put them in the same category: defence-first players with an offensive upside.
“Number one is always defence first, but my style of play is a lot more offensive and I use that to my advantage,” Duncan said.
Both are the leading scorers among Queen’s defenders, though Duncan said putting up points isn’t her immediate focus.
“It’s not important that I have an offensive impact,” Duncan said. “I go out to play defence first and then do everything I can to help us score.”
Duncan’s tied for third among OUA defenders in scoring, helping lead the Gaels to an OUA-best 29 goals against in 20 games played.
She’s a veteran of the OUA championship-winning team from 2010 and thinks this year’s squad has even more potential to win it all.
“Every year is different and we did win two years ago … but this year I find we’ve got a stronger core together,” Duncan said, who leads a defensive corps that includes three first-year players.
Earlier this month, the Dalhousie women’s hockey team saw their season end early for their alleged maltreatment of first-year players during a hazing incident.
For Duncan, a Gaels assistant captain, there’s no value in hazing rookies.
“We never treat them differently, and I don’t think it’s necessary to really do that on a team,” she said, adding that picking up pucks and filling water bottles at practice are the extent of first-year responsibilities.
“Confidence is a big thing in hockey, so a little bit of extra confidence really helps the younger players.”
Fellow defender Sealey has also thrived offensively, with 14 points to lead the OUA in rookie scoring. Duncan spoke highly of Sealey, crediting her for her work ethic, as well as her strong shot.
“She isn’t the loudest player,” Duncan said. “But the fact that she’s always working hard really brings a strong personality to the team.”
With Duncan playing a mentor role, the Gaels defence consists of three first-years, two second-years and third-year Marlee Fisher.
With second-year Mary Coughlin as her defensive partner, Sealey is another responsible defender who can rush the puck. She played last season for the Kitchener-Waterloo Rangers of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League and the transition to the OUA was painless.
At 5’10, Sealey’s the Gaels’ tallest player, four inches taller than Duncan. Yet very much like Duncan, Sealey describes herself as a defence-first player who can generate offense on the rush.
“When I was younger I always used to be defence first, but now I’m progressing,” Sealey said. “I can work on my offense too.”
Head coach Matt Holmberg has used Duncan and Sealey on the power play, using Sealey’s hard shot as an asset.
“That’s one thing I’m proud of with myself,” she said. “I don’t usually hit shin pads [with my shot] or throw it away. I try to be smart with it.”
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