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Katie Gaskin A Solid Blueliner During Inaugural Season with Toronto Furies

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Selected 22nd overall in the fifth round of the 2015 CWHL Draft, Katie Gaskin was one of two Elmira College alums calling the Toronto Furies their new team. Along with Ashton Hogan, a third round pick who also excelled in lacrosse, Soaring Eagles pride became prevalent with the Furies as the two appeared in 40 games combined.

Raised in Pickering, Gaskin donned number 20 with Elmira College and served as one of the co-captains in their 1-0 win against Middelbury College to clinch the 2013 NCAA Division III national championship. Originally, Gaskin accepted a scholarship with Wayne State University in Detroit, the same program that produced the likes of current CWHL stars such as Delayne Brian, the 2016 Clarkson Cup MVP, and Alyssa Baldin, an alternate captain with the Furies.

Making her CWHL debut on October 17, 2015, a 2-0 win against the Boston Blades on home ice at MasterCard Centre, it would not take long for Gaskin to register her first CWHL point. The following day she would log an assist in the second period of a rematch against Boston.

It was only fitting that Hogan earned the other assist on the goal, as it also represented her first CWHL point. Scored by Jessica Vella, said goal would tie the game, eventually resolved in a shootout. That opening weekend served as a proud milestone in Gaskin’s career, proud to don the blue and white,

“Leading up to my first CWHL game, I was rolling on nervous excitement. The Furies staff did an incredible job promoting and setting-up our home opener, so I was lucky enough to experience my first game with a full crowd, with Andy Frost announcing the Furies 2015/16 lineup, and with a youth girls’ hockey player accompanying me onto the ice. I was able to get the jitters out after my first shift and was super impressed with the speed of the game.

It was a humbling experience – I felt immediate respect for the amazing athletes around me and each of their individual journeys to get them to this level. Seeing the massive support from our fanbase after the game was inspiring.”

Of note, Gaskin would amass four assists during the regular season. The next came in a series of back-to-back wins for the blue and white. In the second period of a December 6 win against the eventual Clarkson Cup champion Calgary Inferno, Gaskin and Natalie Spooner would earn the assists on a goal scored by Sena Suzuki, which was also the first goal in her career.

A road trip against Boston would represent the second win as Gaskin combined with Wayne State alum Alyssa Baldin to assist on the first goal of game, scored by Spooner.

Gaskin’s last assist would come on February 7, a 5-2 win against Boston, that saw her gain the helper on a goal scored by Kelly Terry in the second period. Seeing the positive example that star players such as Spooner and Terry set on the team is one that has contributed to a great team culture, one that makes Gaskin proud to wear the blue and white,

“One of the most impactful characteristics of our team is the fact that every single individual is valued as an athlete – whether they excel offensively, defensively, as a "grinder" or as a builder when we find ourselves in a slump during the game.

There is not one player who is considered "better" or more respected than the others; we all have different strengths that make us uniquely effective. I think this is what makes a professional team successful in the long run: having a team composed of equally respected players who each have their job on the ice. It is each of these individual jobs that, when done collaboratively and consistently, add up to create a championship team.”

Statistically, Gaskin was the only player on the Furies roster with positive plus/minus rating, gaining +3. Seeing action in 18 games this season, Gaskin only logged four penalty minutes, testament to her highly disciplined play.

On a blueline anchored by veterans such as Michelle Bonello and Shannon Moulson, who both participated in the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game, Gaskin has proven to be an ideal fit. She was among a group of rookie blueliners including Japanese national team member Sena Suzuki, also the first Japanese player to appear in the CWHL All-Star Game.

Although the Furies are eager to return to the championship picture, players such as Gaskin hold the potential to contribute towards ambitions sooner rather than later. With great maturity, she brings optimism and strong teamwork skills, while seeing the potential in others,

“This past season we had a lot of young talented players in the process of nailing down their exact role on the team. Now that we have a year under our belts, I think we are going to do big things as a team next season.”

Among the highlights of Gaskin’s first season was the chance to participate in a nationally televised game on January 2, which was broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet. While the January 2 game against the Brampton Thunder resulted in a hard-fought loss, the bigger victory was the fact that the event was held in partnership with “You Can Play”.

Demonstrating that female athletes can be role models, such a game raised awareness about the potential of these exceptional women to make a positive impact. Taking into account that the Furies (and other clubs) host autograph sessions after each home game, providing a positive fan experience, complemented by youth skaters on the ice during pregame ceremonies, it is a point of pride for Gaskin. Understanding that part of the experience that comes with gracing CWHL ice involves the responsibility of being a positive influence for youth players, her remarkable outlook is one that shows strong leadership,

“Taking pictures with young players and signing autographs really demonstrated how much of an impact CWHL players make on these young players’ lives – it makes me not only want to be the best player I can be, but also the best person I can be to hopefully inspire them to do the same.

One of my favorite experiences this season was having the opportunity to reach out to the community and work with youth hockey players. The Furies and the CWHL are passionate about embracing this responsibility as leaders in the women’s game, which made me realize how passionate I am about this concept.

Seeing the smiling faces of young players after they learn a new skill or after they realize their athletic potential is extremely gratifying for me. I want them to understand that they are capable of anything they set their mind to, no matter what their individual circumstances are.

This is one of the attributes that makes the Furies and the CWHL so distinguished – we are a team and a league composed of the most elite female hockey players who are dedicated to making the next generation of CWHL players even better.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Images supplied by Katie Gaskin

To learn more about You Can Play, please visit: http://youcanplayproject.org/

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