Belonging to the inaugural class of the returning University of New Brunswick Reds program, Myah Bowal provided a fundamentally sound game and friendly demeanor that contributed towards an exciting time. Working tirelessly towards helping the Reds reach unprecedented heights, highlighted by the thrill of back-to-back Atlantic University Sport championships, Bowal reached a special summit in her final season.
With every game during the 2022-23 regular season allowing Bowal greater opportunity to appreciate the time at UNB, numerous highlights accumulated as the clock ticked towards the finale. With the onset of the second half of the season, a combination of proud achievements and personal milestones provided a combination of celebration and perspective.
On January 11, 2023, an exhilarating continuation in the rivalry with the rival St. Thomas Tommies provided Bowal with one of her greatest goals. Although the Tommies entered the game with only six wins, compared to 17 for the nationally ranked Reds, the intensity of the rivalry always resulted inclosely contested games. With the Tommies holding the lead after the first period of play, with Trinity Webber scoring unassisted, the score stood tied at 1-each heading into the final frame.
With more than 10 minutes of scoreless play, testament to the quality of the rivalry, special teams proved critical in deciding the outcome. Capitalizing on a power play opportunity, Bowal found the back of the net at the 12:15 mark, placing the puck past Caroline Pietroski. With assists to fellow senior Frederike Cyr and former junior teammate Marley Van Den Oetelaar earning the assists, Bowal’s goal stood as the game-winner in a hard-fought 3-1 final, which saw Bowal recognized as one of the game’s Three Stars.
Of note, the following game, a January 20 home date versus the Saint Mary’s Huskies resulted in Bowal scoring her final regular season goal as a proud member of the Reds. Coincidentally, the final score read 3-1 once again. Adding to the theme of coincidence, the Huskies held a 1-0 advantage after the first period of play. Replying with three goals in the second period, Bowal scored at 13:23, placing the game out of reach for the Huskies as goaltender Cassie McCallum held the Huskies off the scoresheet in the third.
No game held as much emotion for Bowal as a road affair on February 10 versus the PEI Panthers. Signifying her 100th regular season game with the Reds, the majesty and sense of history combined for a highly memorable milestone. With the number 77 adorning the back of her jersey, absorbing every moment through the game’s ebbs and flows with a profound sense of gratitude, the chance to be the fourth fantastic player among a new generation of Reds to attain the celebrated summit of 100 games provided a tremendous fulfillment.
“Playing in my 100th game and scoring the game winner against St. Thomas were extremely special moments. Being a 5th year player on the Reds and having my last regular season game as my 100th is something I will never forget. Five years at university goes by so fast. I never thought I would be where I am right now after signing the letter of intent to become a Reds women’s hockey player.
St. Thomas has always been a big rivalry due to the “Battle of the Hill” between campuses. We always know we have to give it our all. Scoring the game winner was pretty exciting having it be against them. I am more of a playmaker for sure, so being able to raise the energy on the bench and getting the girls fired up is something I always look forward to, as motivation goes a long ways. A few of my old teammates from Toronto Leaside Junior were, and still are, Tommies women’s hockey players.”
Prominent in Bowal’s path at UNB, the arrival of Marley Van Den Oetelaar in Fredericton resulted in a feeling of reunion. Having both starred with the PWHL’s Toronto Leaside Junior Wildcats, the chance to continue their careers as university teammates provided an element of serendipity for a Reds program on the rise. Having experienced a career high in goals during the 2022-23 season, Van Den Oetelaar, raised in Whitby, Ontario, wears number 88 for the Reds, while 77 adorns Bowal’s jersey.
Gracing the ice together for Van Den Oetelaar’s regular season debut, an October 4, 2020 home date versus the UPEI Panthers, it marked a seminal moment for both. Worth noting, Van Den Oetelaar’s first goal as Red, occuring in a 3-1 home win versus the Saint Mary’s Huskies on January 22, 2021, stood as the game winning tally.
“Marley and I have been playing together since 2016, when we both played for the Toronto Leaside Junior Wildcats, minus my first year as a Red in the 2018-19 season. She has been someone I could always lean on as I moved to Toronto, not knowing anyone on the team. Then, having her commit to UNB, I knew I needed to be there for her and help her out whenever she needed, to return the favour.
It is pretty special. We have been best friends for seven years now, and it is pretty bittersweet knowing I am leaving the Reds. Yet, I know we will continue to be best friends and stay in touch. Reds alumni events will be pretty exciting knowing that we can reconnect with all Reds women’s hockey generations.”
Equally influential in Bowal’s journey with the Reds involved a significant Pacific presence. Raised in Terrace, British Columbia, located along the Skeena River in the Northwestern part of the province, Bowal belongs to a local athletic legacy which includes Caleb Brousseau, Wade Flaherty and Michelle Hendry, among others. Having appeared with Team BC at the 2017 Under-18 Women’s Nationals, she is among several talents from the province that recently skated for the Reds
Such a group included a pair of goaltenders, fellow senior Hailey Martens, raised in Ladysmith, plus Brodrick Trophy winner Kendra Woodland, who calls Kamloops home. Worth noting, the Reds goalie picture for 2023-24 features another prodigy from the province. From Tumbler Ridge, Sierra Eagles has started for the Pacific Steelers. Also a former Steeler, and a member of the Class of 2023, Tamina Kehler, from Chilliwack, finished as the Reds leading scorer in their returning season of 2018-19.
“Playing with teammates from BC was pretty surreal. We all grew up attending Team BC U16-U18 events together as well as competing against each-other at Provincials and spring hockey events.
Having that extra support, knowing that you are not the only one in the same boat, being so far away from home definitely made the move a lot easier. Flights back to school at the beginning of the season and back from Christmas break were always exciting as we would all check to see if we were on the same flights or not.”
Certainly, the seasons spent in Reds paraphernalia stand as a source of pride for Bowal, allowing for the most enjoyable time in her hockey odyssey. Quickly noticing the positive team culture, it stood as the foundation upon which the Reds enjoyed early success. Finding a tremendous inspiration in the sense of family that developed, Bowal approached the remainder of her Reds career with a combination of gratitude and enthusiasm.
In addition to a historic place among the first year roster of the returning Reds, the championship seasons of 2022 and 2023 represents the peak. Capturing the regular season and conference titles in back-to-back seasons, qualifying for the U Sports Nationals as a result of such superlative performance, it is a legacy that Bowal proudly belongs to.
“Being part of a new era of women’s hockey at UNB is pretty special. Knowing how far the team has come in such a short time since 2018 is astonishing. Being back to back AUS champs is something I will remember forever.
After my first season with the Reds, we knew we had a special group of girls that would be very successful in the years following. Being able to do it twice with the same group was remarkable especially in such a short period of time as a re-instated program. Knowing how many people and hours it took to bring our team back just makes winning back to back AUS championships so much more meaningful to be able to share it with them
The one thing I enjoyed the most at UNB is having the ability to hop on the ice at almost any point of the day to work on little details you may not get to in practice whether it be alone or with a few teammates.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated“