A leader’s legacy

Nearing an OUA record, hockey captain focuses on her team

Morgan McHaffie’s stick and jersey are in the Hockey Hall of Fame — the product of scoring the winning goal in the longest collegiate hockey game ever played.
Morgan McHaffie’s stick and jersey are in the Hockey Hall of Fame — the product of scoring the winning goal in the longest collegiate hockey game ever played.

Even with her equipment in the Hockey Hall of Fame and an OUA MVP award, Morgan McHaffie’s greatest feat isn’t an individual one.

Her stick and jersey went to the Hall of Fame after scoring the winning goal in the longest collegiate hockey game of all time — a six-overtime thriller in the first game of the 2011 OUA final against Guelph. Despite that, the fifth-year women’s hockey captain points towards her two OUA titles as her biggest accomplishment with the Gaels.

The choice is indicative of McHaffie’s attitude off the ice and her play on it, where she constantly puts the team ahead of herself.

With seven regular season games remaining in her time at Queen’s, the star centre has a chance for another personal accolade. She’s just nine points back of former Gael Elizabeth Chiasson’s OUA record of 155 career points.

McHaffie said the chance to break the record isn’t a focus for her this year.

“Personally, I haven’t even thought of it,” she said. “My main goal is to get my team back to an OUA championship.”

Currently sitting atop the league, the Gaels are primed to do just that. Winning the title would give McHaffie the additional honour of accepting the trophy, having been named captain over the summer after spending the last two seasons as an assistant.

McHaffie said the captaincy hasn’t changed the way she interacts with her teammates, but there were personal shifts that came along with the position.

“Taking on the C, it’s more responsibility and more weight,” she said. “I know the weight of my actions can affect others, so I really try to make sure I do everything to the best of my ability.”

Part of McHaffie’s role as captain is helping the group of Queen’s rookies rebuild after several key veterans departed last year. Among the graduates was Morgan’s twin sister Brittany.

“We grew up playing together, every year on the same line [and] same team, so it was a challenge in itself right from day one not having her next to me,” McHaffie said. “Even for lines of communication, you always had someone there you could trust and rely on, and you knew what they were thinking all the time.”

As the year’s gone on, McHaffie has found chemistry with her new linemates, tallying a league-leading 24 points in 17 games.

For all the offensive numbers she puts up, McHaffie has proven just as strong on the defensive side, something she makes her primary focus in her game.

“If we don’t let any goals in, we aren’t going to lose the game,” she said. “Playing defence first and then getting those one or two goals is key. I try and rub that off on my teammates.”

Gaels head coach Matt Holmberg said McHaffie’s two-way play is a major aspect of her game. He noted her prowess on the penalty kill and faceoffs, of which she’s winning around 70 per cent this year.

Holmberg was an assistant coach when the McHaffie twins were originally recruited and was named head coach the summer before their first year at Queen’s. Over the years, he’s seen a number of remarkable performances from Morgan — last year’s playoffs being one of them.

Playing on an injured knee that forced her to miss one game, McHaffie came back to total 11 points in the team’s six other games, including a five-point performance that helped eliminate the Windsor Lancers.

McHaffie injured her other knee in the nationals championships against the Calgary Dinos, but stayed on the ice long enough to pot a goal.

“When you think about gutsy performances, that whole playoff run last year was pretty remarkable,” Holmberg said.

With her time at Queen’s coming to an end, McHaffie has a chance to add a scoring title, an OUA record and another provincial championship to her on-ice accolades, but Holmberg sees a greater legacy outside of the rink.

“Off the ice, she’s a fantastic teammate and she will always, always, always put her teammates and the team and school ahead of herself,” he said.

“I think that attitude and that personality, long after she’s done playing on the ice, will continue to resonate with the players that are still playing.”

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