As the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) women’s hockey nationals continue to gain prominence, there is no shortage in the creation of legends, only adding prestige to the event. The 2016 edition of the nationals was no exception as the Saint Mary’s Huskies rose to unprecedented heights.
Gaining legendary status was Caitlyn Manning, whose goal landed Saint Mary’s their first-ever podium finish. Logging the bronze medal clinching goal, it signified the culmination of a remarkable rebuilding for the Huskies, who won only 1 game during the 2011-12 season.
Having won the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) postseason crown, there was definitely a strong feeling of confidence heading into the nationals. In the AUS Finals against a competitive St. Thomas Tommies squad, Manning scored the first goal of the deciding game. In addition, she would gain an assist on Caitlyn Schell’s first of two goals scored in the third period, part of a victorious 5-1 final. Overall, Manning finished 11th overall in AUS playoff scoring, also setting the pace with an impressive 23 shots on goal.
“Winning the AUS was definitely one of the most memorable moments for me at Saint Mary’s. This program has come a long way in the past five years and this group could not be more deserving.”
Reflecting on the historic bronze, Manning always believed that such a pinnacle was possible. Adding to such momentum was the fact that the Huskies defeated the defending national champion Western Mustangs in the opening round, as Caitlyn Schell scored 29 seconds into third for the game-winner.
“It meant a whole lot more being able to bring back a bronze medal for our school, contributing at nationals was just a bonus. I am very fortunate to play with great players and scoring in that game would not have been possible without them.
I have always believed in this team from the beginning but after winning 10 straight games, I knew this was a special group that could do big things.”
Competing against the Guelph Gryphons at Calgary’s Joan Snyder Arena, the program boasted goaltender Brodrick Trophy Award winner Valerie Lamenta, placing the Huskies in a role of underdog. Undeterred, the efforts of freshman goaltender Rebecca Clark, she would prove to be the role of equalizer, providing the Huskies with a chance to win.
Enjoying a 1-0 lead after one period of play, as Huskies forward Nicole Blanche scored the lone goal of the period, Clark would stop 11 Gryphons shots. Although a tense second period resulted in a scoreless affair, Lamenta managed 10 saves while nullifying three Huskies power play opportunities.
As the Huskies entered the third trying to extend their lead, there was another 15 minutes of scoreless play. At the 15:21 mark, Manning would solve Lamenta, as Mary Worndl and Beatrice Harrietha earned the assists.
Merely 64 seconds later, Christine Grant would break Rebecca Clark’s shutout bid, reducing the Huskies lead to just one goal. With both teams playing penalty free hockey, Clark continued to be a stone wall in the game’s dying minutes, as Breanna Lanceleve would log an empty net goal, allowing Manning’s goal to stand as the game winning tally.
Undoubtedly, Manning’s biggest victory during was the display of great maturity, as she took on a bigger leadership role. Proving that she is able to compete in big game situations, Manning definitely deserves to be part of the conversation as Canada assembles its roster for the 2017 Winter Universiade. Having always logged a positive +/- rating during her AUS career, Manning also brings durability to the rink, having not missed a game this season.
“I am definitely going to do my best to mentor the freshman coming in. Not only by leading on the ice but also by showing them to be a good person away from the rink.”
During the 2015-16 campaign, Manning’s third with the Huskies, the club managed a lofty 11-2 mark when Manning logged at least one point, highlighted by seven multi point games. Among her best performances was a +5 rating in a 6-2 win against Dalhousie on October 4, 2015.
Ranking fourth in team scoring, trailing Breanna Lanceleve, Caitlyn Schell and Laura Polak, Manning also placed third in goals scoring (12th in conference). In addition, her 80 shots ranked in the top 10 in the AUS. Among the highlights of her season, she would register four game winning goals
Although she logged just 16 points this season, (still good enough to rank in the top 20 in conference scoring), compared to 19 in her sophomore season, Manning proved to be just as valuable to her team as she made significant growth in disciplined play. With only 10 penalty minutes, it marked a reduction from 22 as a sophomore. Three points shy of 50 for her career, there are still many more highlights to come as Manning reaches the rarified height of legend.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Jeff Harper, Metro Halifax