Part of the Markham Thunder’s 2018 CWHL Draft class, Gina Repaci holds the potential to be one of its gems. A member of Canada’s U18 National Women’s Team, Repaci possesses the world-class skills to make an immediate impact on her new team. Selected 32nd overall by the Thunder, the club’s fifth round pick, her strong playmaking skills may yield tremendous results for a club looking to remain in the Clarkson Cup picture.
Competing on defense, the chance to compete for a spot on the Thunder’s 2018-19 roster holds tremendous meaning for Repaci. Akin to many other competitors that have donned the club’s highly popular green and white, Repaci was raised in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Having starred with the PWHL’s Mississauga Jr. Chiefs, where she also garnered the chance to skate for Canada in a silver medal outcome at the 2011 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds. Coincidentally, two of her teammates on the national team, Sarah Edney and Nicole Kosta, were also Thunder draft picks.
Certainly, the opportunity to be drafted by one of the CWHL’s GTA-based teams holds with it a significant sense of pride, aspiring for future glories on home soil. Taking into account that her younger sister, Sabrina, competes for the Rensselaer Engineers of the ECAC Conference, it also enables her to become a role model, encouraging her to pursue her own hockey dreams upon graduation,
“I am so humbled to be drafted by Markham and very excited to begin my professional career in the GTA. Every athlete dreams of playing the sport they love in their hometown, and I am so grateful that I have this opportunity to do so.”
Having honed her skills at the NCAA level by competing with the University of Vermont Catamounts, Repaci was recognized as a Hockey East Second Team All-Star in the aftermath of the 2013-14 campaign. Able to combine elements of offensive flair in her game, she logged 130 appearances for the program. Gracing the ice at Gutterson Fieldhouse alongside other star players such as Roxanne Douville, Allie Granato, Mackenzie MacNeil, Amanda Pelkey and Taylor Willard, among others, Repaci’s career highlights both took place against the Boston University Terriers.
As a sophomore, she recorded four points as the Catamounts enjoyed a sweep of the nationally ranked Boston University Terriers, a historic first for the program. During her junior campaign, Repaci’s only goal of the season was highly significant. Recording the game-winning tally versus the Terriers, who were nationally ranked once again, it signified the program’s first-ever victory at Walter Brown Arena. Coincidentally, the final game of her Catamounts career also took place against the Terriers, as the rivals faced each other during the Hockey East playoffs.
That strong sense of coincidence was highly evident during the outcome of this year’s draft for Repaci. Between the 29th and 32nd overall picks of this year’s draft, Vermont alumnae comprised three of the picks. Both familiar faces for Repaci, having called them teammates for a handful of seasons, Willard, a highly talented blueliner now calls Les Canadiennes de Montreal her club team, while MacNeil was picked just one spot ahead of Repaci.
Selected by the Toronto Furies 31st overall, in what was Sami Jo Small’s first draft as Furies General Manager, MacNeil now lines up on the opposite side of the Battle of Toronto, one of the CWHL’s signature rivalries. Sandwiched at 30th overall was Rebecca Fleming, a former rival with the University of Connecticut, now aligned with the Worcester Blades.
Although calling former Vermont teammates, MacNeil and Willard, rivals will present an element of adjustment in the professional ranks, there remains a very strong sense of pride and excitement. Undeniably, the chance to be part of a growing number of Vermont alums extending their careers as professionals represents a growing legacy for the program. Considering that all three were part of the same draft class, it only adds luster to such a proud career milestone. As Repaci reflects, a conversation with her former Catamounts teammates prior to the draft brought with it a sense of both encouragement and unity, proud of each other’s achievements,
“I am very proud to see other Vermont alums selected in this year’s draft as it is showing the tremendous growth that the UVM program has to offer. I did get the opportunity to speak to both Taylor and Mack before the draft, and we were all thrilled to be a part of the 2018 CWHL draft. I did not see them afterwards, but I cannot wait to meet them out on the ice this season.”
Despite not competing professionally since her graduation from Vermont in the spring of 2016, Repaci has remained close to the game. Akin to so many other talented players who graduated from the collegiate ranks, she was part of the highly talented competitors that grace the ice in the Senior AA League of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association.
Juggling her playing time with highly commendable coaching duties in the Brampton Canadettes organization, the same organization which formed the foundation that eventually spawned the Brampton (later Markham) Thunder. Taking into account how numerous players and volunteers from the Thunder’s inaugural season in Markham made the sojourn eastwards from Brampton, there is definitely a proud sense of familiarity and unity, as Repaci’s newest chapter takes place draped in Markham’s green and white.
“Hockey has always been an important part of my life, and after graduating in 2016 that didn’t change. The first season after graduating I was playing in the OWHA senior AA league. Last season I was playing in the same league, but I was also an assistant coach for both the Brampton Canadettes Bantam AA and Midget AA teams. Coaching has brought a different perspective for how I see the game and has really reignited that passion I have always had for playing.”
While Repaci’s first focus lies solely on training camp, the process that shall serve as the next rung in the professional ladder, she approaches it with a tremendous keenness, eager to share the ice with a group of highly talented and distinguished competitors. Ready to contribute towards a Thunder club determined to repeat as Clarkson Cup champions, Repaci’s composure and versatility, able to bring a defensive approach to complement her offensive skills, comprise a self-assurance that may allow her to shine in one of the brightest stages of professional hockey,
“I am looking forward to getting to training camp and being able to play with this great group of girls. I have had the chance to play with many of them previously, whether it be in high school or through the national team program, and it has always been a great experience. I think I have a strong defensive zone presence and play with a lot of poise, which I am hoping I can bring this to the Thunder to help them win the Clarkson Cup again this season.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Vermont Action Photo from: https://uvmathletics.com/news/2014/4/17/WHOCKEY_0417140002.aspx
Other images obtained from Facebook