Establishing herself as one of the greatest players in the history of the University of New Brunswick Reds, the legacy of Kendra Woodland took on an exciting new dimension. Joined by teammate Jenna MacLean, both earned the opportunity to wear the Maple Leaf for Canada at the 2023 Winter Universiade in Lake Placid, New York.
Following up on the proud achievement of regular season and postseason Atlantic University Sports (AUS) championship banners last season, Woodland established herself among the nation’s elite goaltenders. Long reputed among the finest in AUS, with multiple recognition as an All-Star, the opportunity to shine in such a prestigious international event provided a profound appreciation …
“It was amazing. It was definitely a different experience in terms of team culture. You are going from a team that has been together for upwards of four years to a team with some new faces while trying to establish that culture.
Taking the experience of high pressure games, from winning an AUS title into a tournament to play for Team Canada was a massive attribute that I was excited to being to the table. It is always an indescribable feeling to be able to pull on the maple leaf so to be able to do that within my university career was truly unforgettable.”
Belonging to a talented goalie class for Canada featuring Camryn Drever from the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, also a participant at the 2022 Nationals, plus Aurelie Dubuc of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, Woodland emerged as the number one goaltender. Gaining consecutive starts in the medal round, such solid performances established her as a prime time player, allowing Canada to post a sparkling undefeated mark.
Defeating Slovakia by a 6-1 mark in the semifinals, Woodland displayed a tremendous poise. With Lucia Haluskova scoring the first goal of the game, marking the first time in tournament play that Canada trailed in the tournament, Woodland prevented the Slovaks from adding to their lead, recording a total of 14 saves in the final two periods. Six unanswered goals, highlighted by Leah Herrfort’s game winning goal, allowed Canada to reach their seventh consecutive gold medal game in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Universiade, an event record.
Undeniably, the start versus Japan in the gold medal game marked a milestone that shall be cherished for many years. With Miyuu Masuhara between the pipes for the opposing Japanese, Woodland required only 12 saves in a fantastic 5-0 shutout victory. Although the first period ended scoreless, Woodland displayed solid poise, allowing her team an opportunity to grab the lead and never relinquish it. The game winning goal by Audrey-Ann Veillette proved to be one of the most significant in her career, allowing Canada to become the first country to win four gold medals in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Universiade.
“To gain the start in the final game against Japan was amazing. It gave me the feeling that all my hard work thus far has paid off and it was amazing to have the support I did from my Canadian teammates.
Getting the win was the cherry on top. We obviously went into the tournament wanting to bring home a gold medal. Yet, our main focus was to have a fantastic experience along the way, and that we did.”
Reflecting on the magnitude of the event, many of its intricacies, from the numerous ceremonies to the dozens of nations on-hand, mirrored the grandeur of the Winter Games. Such details resonated with a jubilant Woodland. Acknowledging how the Universiade added another aspect of credibility to the strong talent base competing in USPORTS, the collaborative efforts of Hilworth, MacLean and Woodland, all Canadian hockey heroines, also provided a celebrated chapter to the rapidly expanding legacy of UNB Reds women’s ice hockey.
“What I enjoyed most about the FISU experience is how much it resembled an Olympic event. With the athlete village and lounges, the opening ceremonies, and the medal ceremonies, it was really great for us as university student-athletes to be able to get that experience and be able to bring it back to our respective USPORTS teams. It really beings the compete level in USPORTS women’s hockey to a whole new level and to blaze the trail for the future of women’s hockey players.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Featured image obtained from: Instagram @kendrawoodland