Women’s Hockey lands pair of transfers from down south

Caroline DeBruin and Abby LaFreniere highlight eight-recruit class

DeBruin will help Queen’s offensive power.
DeBruin will help Queen’s offensive power.
Supplied by Queen’s Athletics

When deciding where’s the best fit for a student athlete, one of the biggest questions is whether to cross the border or not. For two of Queen’s newest women’s hockey players, the decision to go to the United States has brought them back home.

After one year of college in the NCAA, forward Abby Lafreniere has decided to move from Merrimack College in Massachusetts to play for the Gaels. To shore up their offensive side, Queen’s also announced that former Cornell University forward Caroline DeBruin will balance her time on the Gaels with being a student in the Faculty of Law. 

Along with these two transfers, the Gaels introduced six, first-year students joining the program. They include goaltenders Makenzy Arsenault, Kathryn Jalink, forwards Bridgid Goris, Taylor Hicks and Alexandra Maw and defender Brooklyn Bastarache. 

Prior to transferring, Lafreniere went to the Ontario Hockey Academy in Cornwall, Ontario for high school. Taking a year off before going to Merrimack, she played for the Cambridge Rivulettes in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, and scored 17 points in 37 games. 

While Lafreniere might come from the United States playing just two games in the NCAA, DeBruin arrives at Queen’s with experience. DeBruin is a three time ECAC All-Academic team member and 2014 ECAC champion. After injuring her shoulder prior to her senior season, DeBruin is still eligible for two more years of university level hockey. She credits her year away from hockey as having changed her perspective on university. 

 “I’ve wanted to go to law school for quite some time, but my want was fully solidified during my year off as I experienced a completely new Cornell - one through the lens of purely ‘student,’” she said. “After doing some research and visiting Kingston, Queen’s became my top choice. On top of being one of the most prestigious law schools in the nation, I had also heard only amazing things about the Women’s Hockey team and Queen’s Athletics in general,” DeBruin said.

Head coach Matt Holmberg credits the University’s academic reputation coupled with the program’s past success as being a motivator for transfer students. “Obviously the academic reputation and resources of the university are always a key consideration, so I think I’m fortunate when people are looking for a university either for the first time or potentially for a second time that Queen’s is near the top of the list academically,” he said. “We also offer a pretty broad range of graduate programs.”

Holmberg said these additions strengthen the teams ability to play a game that will stretch both ends of the ice. By adding six new players, he believes they will be versatile, being able to quickly shift from defense to attack. The hope is to compete for an OUA championship in an extremely competitive league. 

Although he thinks the team will be able to do a lot of different things on the ice, Holmberg believes the team’s biggest hurdle to a successful season is overcoming a steady transition of new players into their respective roles. 

“About a third of the team will be new, so you know, there’s going to be an adjustment period, but I’m hoping that doesn’t end up being too much of an issue” he said. “It certainly helps with transfers like Caroline, who’ve already played at a high level. Her transition will be fairly swift, as long as we can manage quickly and effectively, and otherwise stay healthy. We had a couple of key injuries over the last few years that affected the roster, I think those will probably be our two biggest challenges. But speaking to the players already, we’re all super excited and motivated.”

With several members of the team graduating at the end of next year the Gaels are excited and eager to compete for OUA glory. 

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