Among the hallmarks of any athlete’s career at the university level, one of the most cherished is to be able to win a championship in their final game. To be able to achieve this glorious outcome while being recognized as a Most Valuable Player allows for a storybook ending that sporting dreams are made of.
Such dreams came true for Alberta Pandas goaltender Lindsey Post. Competing in one of the most riveting and dramatic championship games in recent memory, the physical education and recreation student made 40 saves against an always competitive opponent in the McGill Martlets, making their eighth appearance in the last 10 CIS/U Sports national women’s ice hockey championship games.
At the other end of the rink at Napanee’s Strathcona Paper Centre was McGill’s Tricia Deguire, who gained recognition as the U Sports Rookie of the Year. Considering that Post, a Second Team Canada West All-Star selection, was in her fifth and final season with the Pandas, the fact that these two competed in the national championship signified a ceremonial, and emotional, passing of the torch, heralding a new generation of goaltending brilliance.
With a first period that was a defensive stalemate, Amy Boucher would score the first goal of the game with a snapshot, providing the Pandas with a 1-0 advantage that stood after two periods of play. Heading into the third period, McGill’s Melodie Daoust, a U Sports All-Canadian competing in her final game, capitalized on the power play to tie the game, eventually forcing overtime.
After the first overtime period failed to resolve the tie, Taylor Kezama provided the heroics, as fifth-year team captain Sasha Lutz, gained the assist, on the championship clinching goal, giving the program its eighth national championship. For Post, the victory not only signified the biggest moment in her career, it was an opportunity to pay tribute to a Pandas program that has meant so much to her,
“Every year here was an amazing experience and having my final year end with the biggest win of my career meant so much to me. After this win, I felt like I gave back to the program that has given me so much in the past five years.”
For her efforts, Post was recognized as the Tournament MVP. Subsequently, she was also bestowed the honors of the Pandas Female Athlete of the Week Award, complemented by the ArcelorMittal Dofasco U Sports Female Athlete of the Week recognition. As a side note, McGill fifth-yea forward Gabrielle Davidson was also a nominee for the U Sports honor.
Along with forward Alex Poznikoff, who was an offensive catalyst with a hat trick in the semi-final win against the Concordia Stingers, another Montreal-based team like McGill, Post joined her as the only Pandas named to the Tournament All-Star team. The only other Canada West played to gain All-Star honors was UBC’s Kelly Murray.
The road to the championship was one that saw Post and her Pandas teammates display remarkable character. After losing to the UBC Thunderbirds in the Canada West finals, they were seeded sixth out of eight teams at the U Sports nationals in Napanee, Ontario. As a side note, a November 19, 2015 game against UBC provided Post with another significant milestone in her career. With the Pandas prevailing by a 1-0 tally, the win represented Post’s 20th career shutout, a program record, simultaneously providing head coach Howie Draper with the 300th win of his Pandas career.
Recording a total of 72 saves in three tournament games, Post was crucial in the Pandas first national hockey crown since 2010. Defeating Saint Mary’s, the Atlantic University Sport champion, in the quarterfinals, it provided Post with the first win of her career at the U Sports nationals, after enduring elimination losses in both 2015 and 2016. Followed by a victory against the upstart Stingers, who finished third in the RSEQ conference, such outstanding and well-deserved recognition is a crowning achievement in Post’s career.
“I am incredibly proud and honoured by the recognition. I can’t give enough credit to my team this year. Everyone bought into our values and believed in everything we did, from our systems to sport psychology sessions.
This belief created a team filled with passion, heart, and a desire to succeed. Having this type of team in front of me made me want to do everything in my power to earn them a Championship, which brought my game up a notch in the final.”
Adding to the jubilation of this victory is the fact that it was one rather close to home for Post. Raised in Chelsea, Quebec, part of Canada’s capital region, she starred in her youth with the Lac St. Louis Kuper Kodiaks. The fact that the national championships were contested in the Kingston/Napanee region, roughly 220 kilometers east, it allowed a handful of friends and family to show their support in attendance.
For Post, being able to compete in the final tournament, and subsequently, final game, of her CIS/U Sports career with the feeling of loving support was perhaps the most cherished aspect, truly bringing her hockey odyssey full circle.
“Being able to play my final games in front of my family was the greatest ending I could have asked for. Since I played so far from home they weren’t able to watch as many of my games as they would have liked too. So finishing my career in front of so many of my family members was incredibly special for me.”
Considering that this season was Post’s last with the Pandas, the championship represents more than just a victorious send-off, an emotional souvenir that will be cherished in the years to come. It also reinforces the feeling of family that constituted the outstanding culture of Pandas hockey.
While Post’s career shall always be defined by this valiant victory, the bigger picture reflects an amazing body of work that adds to the legacy of Pandas hockey. Taking her rightful place among the program’s most legendary players, joining the likes of Andrea Boras, Danielle Bourgeois, Delaney Collins, Judy Diduck, Kirsten Haag and Tarin Podloski, among others, Post looks back fondly on her Pandas career, knowing that the teammates she also called friends, were just as integral to the experience,
“I will miss having 20+ amazing girls surrounding me every day. Being a part of this team is so much more than just what happens on the ice. I could not be more proud to have called myself a Panda over the last five years, but joining the Pandas Alumni is something I am equally as proud of.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Bruce Edwards
Championship photo obtained from: https://www.ualberta.ca/athletics/teams/hockey-w/pandas-hockey-news/2017/march/lindsey-post-named-canada-west-first-star-of-the-week