With a draft that saw CWHL franchises look to fill holes in their rosters (due to the impact of Sochi), qualities such as high scoring, swift skating and strong leadership were all key factors to consider in selecting a player. One player that may have all such variables is Mississauga’s Alyssa Baldin.
Grabbed in the fifth round, 22nd overall by the Toronto Furies, she is a fundamentally sound player with all the tools that may make the experts ask why she was not taken sooner. She is part of a Furies draft class that includes former conference rival Holly Carrie-Mattimoe, Katie Wilson, Sasha Nanji and Jessica Vella. Such an injection of youth can only serve to retain the club’s competitiveness.
Baldin’s reputation as a strong leader was established at an early age. In her teens, she was an alternate captain for the PWHL’s Mississauga Jr. Warriors, winning an OWHA bronze medal, while earning herself a spot on Team Ontario Blue in 2007, respectively. That legacy of leadership would continue into the NCAA where she was captain with the Detroit-based Wayne State Warriors.
Having to compete with nationally ranked Mercyhurst in the College Hockey America conference, Baldin was a stoic warrior who continuously gave her team an opportunity to win. One of her greatest moments at Wayne State came when she notched two assists for a 2-2 tie with NCAA powerhouse Wisconsin in November 2009.
While at Wayne State, she was a member of the athletic directors honor roll, along with a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, hallmarks of strong leadership.
After Wayne State unexpectedly folded its promising women’s hockey program; Baldin crossed the bridge over to the University of Windsor Lancers. Majoring in human kinetics, her final two seasons with the Lancers saw her grace the ice with the C on her jersey. Reputed as one of the most skilled players in Ontario University Athletics women’s hockey, she was consistently a Top 20 scorer.
Of note, her final season was one to remember for the program as she accumulated 28 points (on the strength of 15 goals, ranking second in OUA) in just 26 contests. Her final CIS goal would come in a 2-0 win over the Waterloo Warriors on January 20, while a February 9 tilt with the York Lions set the stage for her final point; an assist in a 2-1 loss. In recognition of her outstanding play, she was named a 2013 OUA First Team All-Star.
Her status as an elite athlete with the Lancers was furthered when one of the university’s nutritionists, Chris Wellington, used her image (among several Lancer student-athletes) to promote healthy eating during the 2013 exams period. In addition, she ended her tenure as a superlative student-athlete on a historic note. With the University of Windsor introducing the Captain’s Trophy, in recognition of a captain who demonstrates outstanding leadership both on and off the field, Baldin became the first female recipient of the honor.
It is the type of proud legacy that the Furies hope she will bring to their roster. As Furies General Manager (and former CIS hockey player) Rebecca Davies mentioned on the CWHL site, “Alyssa will bring a strong history of leadership both on and off the ice to the Furies.”
With the Furies missing team captain Tessa Bonhomme, Natalie Spooner, Jenn Wakefield and Rebecca Johnston, they are mighty big shoes for any player to fill. While no one expects Baldin to shoulder the load on her own, she has the maturity to learn from the existing veterans and harness the tools needed to duplicate her past success at the CWHL level.
Photo credit: Gerry Marantette