Women’s hockey bolsters lineup

Cambridge sister phenomena commit to Queen’s hockey

Twin sisters Brittany (left) and Morgan McHaffie scored a combined total of 76 points last season playing for the PWHL team the Cambridge Fury.
Twin sisters Brittany (left) and Morgan McHaffie scored a combined total of 76 points last season playing for the PWHL team the Cambridge Fury.
Credit: 
Courtesy of Rachelle Campbell
Twin sisters Brittany and Morgan McHaffie talk businness on the bench.
Twin sisters Brittany and Morgan McHaffie talk businness on the bench.
Credit: 
Courtesy of Rachelle Campbell

The Queen’s women’s hockey program has adopted a strategy similar to another team in the hockey world.

Like the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, they’ve enlisted the services of twins.

Brittany and Morgan McHaffie from the Provincial Women’s Hockey League’s Cambridge Fury will attend Queen’s next fall. The sisters combined for 76 points last season with the Fury and split the honour of the team’s most valuable player.

The Gaels’ contact with the McHaffies spanned two years after the pair decided to take a gap year after high school. Morgan, who was the Fury’s captain, said they postponed commitment to allow all of their offers to fully develop.

“We just weren’t really ready I guess,” she said. “We wanted to see if we had an opportunity to go to the States and spend an extra year with our junior team.”

The centre said Queen’s campus, which she and her sister were guided around on an all-expenses paid tour by assistant coach Matthew Holmberg and second-year forward Kristin Smith, propelled Queen’s to the top of their university wish list.

Right-winger Brittany McHaffie said national pride kept the sisters in Canada.

“I always had a thing for staying in Canada,” she said. “The OUA is just as good as leagues down there. I like Canada. I don’t need to go south to play hockey.”

Both women said their decision to go to the same school was coincidental, but they’re great communicators on the ice. Brittany said the only downfall of playing with her sister is the occasional squabble.

“We’re always together and that causes fights,” she said. “But once we hit the ice, it’s over.”

She said playing several OUA squads as a member of the Fury has calmed her nerves about the transition.

“It’s the highest level for us and I think I’m ready for it,” she said.

Queen’s head coach Harold Parsons said the sisters’ decision to take a year off will help them in the dressing room next season.

“I don’t see this as a typical 17-year old coming in,” he said. “I think they’re going to come in and get the respect like a veteran.”

Parsons said his experience in coaching siblings is limited to briefly coaching current NHL pro Derek Roy and his brother B.J. while at the helm of the Gloucester Rangers in 1998/99. He said the only challenge will be adding a third player to the strong chemistry between the two sisters, though forward Liz Kench is emerging as an early candidate.

Parsons said the sisters are a valuable addition because of their success in the PWHL and their work ethic.

“To land a player that can produce points in that league is absolutely huge for us,” he said. “They’re both very gritty, which I love. They’re not the type of player that sits at the blue line.”

Parsons said he believes Queen’s was able to attract such strong recruits this year because his team’s smaller bench offers an opportunity to contribute on the ice. The team’s roster includes ten forwards, six defence and three goalies, so the potential for a new recruit to spend her first OUA season as a healthy scratch is slim.

Parsons said strengthening the team will improve the crop of its players-to-be.

“The better the reputation the Queen’s hockey program develops, the better our recruits will be,” he said. “The McHaffie’s didn’t go to the States, they’re coming here.”

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