As the first recruit for the reinstated University of New Brunswick Reds hockey team, Paige Grenier gained a pioneering place in program history. Setting the standard for a talented group of recruits to follow, she belonged to a talented generation of players that quickly transformed the Reds into a nationally ranked program.
Raised in Olds, Alberta, Grenier was not the only linkage from the Prairie province to the Reds. Fellow forward Alayna Wagstaff also called Olds home, both teammates for the 2014 Alberta Winter Games. Of note, both reached Academic All-Canadian status in 2021 as Reds. In addition, Reds head coach Sarah Hilworth starred for the University of Alberta Pandas program from 2008-13, reaching the Century Club in career points.
Upon reflection of such an exciting time, the commitment towards joining the rebuilding program, helping to start a new and empowering chapter, took on significant importance beyond any individual achievement. With perspective, Grenier’s sentiments indicate a respect for the historic roster, also displaying a maturity that certainly proved integral in establishing the Reds remarkable culture.
“To me, it is more about what it means to have been a player on that 2018 team. Many people have said to me “it must have taken a lot of faith to be the first player to sign with the team”. I would argue that this statement is not unique to me as the first recruit, but shared by all of those who were part of that original roster.
We all took that leap of faith together and I am so grateful to each of them for taking that chance with me. Much of my experience here at UNB has been shared and shaped by those that I have had the chance to play with these past five years. I could not imagine my time here without them.”
Named team captain in 2021, enhancing a legacy of leadership, Grenier’s two seasons with the C on her sweater involved a pair of appearances for the Reds at the U Sports Nationals. With the 2022-23 providing plenty of emotion for the gregarious Grenier, the honour of the captaincy represented a tremendous milestone. After recovering from knee surgery the season prior, the combination of renewed confidence and drive to return to the top of the AUS standings, provided plenty of motivation for Grenier, eager to excel on the ice.
An impressive start to Grenier’s fifth season involved a multi-point performance, quickly instilling belief that a second straight conference title was possible. Defeating the Saint Mary’s Huskies in a 5-3 triumph on October 15, 2022, battling back from a 3-1 deficit that saw All-Canadian Shae Demale scored for the opposition, Grenier logged a goal and an assist, while Lily George recorded a hat trick.
In the first match of the New Year, Grenier scored the game-winning goal in a 2-0 shutout victory against Dalhousie on January 6. Scoring on goaltender Grace Beer at the 2:47 mark of the third, Jorja Nystrom and George assisting on said goal, as goaltender Kendra Woodland enjoyed her fourth shutout, and 10th victory of the season.
Enjoying an undefeated mark when Grenier logged at least one point, the regular season ended in grand fashion. Recording goals in the last two games of the season, she found the back of the net in a 3-0 win versus Mount Allison on February 8. Two days later, a road trip versus the PEI Panthers saw Grenier add her name to the scoresheet in a 2-1 triumph. Scoring the game’s opening goal at 2:24 in the first, placing the puck past Sarah Forsythe, coincidentally, assists were credited to Nystrom and George. With senior Tamina Kehler scoring the game-winning goal, a monumental milestone in program lore occurred, as senior Myah Bowal appeared in her 100th regular season game.
Undoubtedly, no game held the same emotion for Grenier as Senior Night. Held on February 5 at Aitken Centre, hosting the Mount Allison Mounties, Grenier belonged to a distinguished group including Wagstaff, their great careers and lifelong friendship arriving full circle. Alternate captains Frederike Cyr, Jenna MacLean and Ashley Stratton also comprised part of the Senior Class, joined by Myah Bowal, Tamina Kehler, Hayley Martens, plus Talli Warren.
Enjoying a 4-1 win, scoring three times in the second period to place the game out of reach, Kehler and MacLean contributed goals, while Cyr, Stratton and Wagstaff logged assists. Of note, Wagstaff assisted on the game-winning goal, scored by Melanie Drost. With Martens recording 19 saves in her only start of the season, the tremendous collaborations added to the magic of a highly memorable night.
“It has been an honour to be captain of this team. We have such a great leadership core that is lead by many of those who were here in that initial 2018 season. As a result, I really think we have really been able to lean on and support one another while establishing our team culture over the years.
It really is a special group and I think that is why I feel so grateful to have been selected by them to wear the “C” these past two seasons. Senior night was also a special game to have been a part of.”
Fittingly, Senior Night served as prologue, allowing the graduates a proud place in history as part of their send-off. Finishing as back-to-back regular season champions, the postseason allowed for further glories. Defeating the St. Francis Xavier X-Women in the deciding game of the Atlantic University Sport conference championship game, a highly dramatic double overtime affair saw Frederike Cyr score the biggest goal of her career. Sweeping the regular season and conference championships for the second straight year stood as the greatest tribute to a group of wondrous women that helped establish an exciting foundation for the success that followed.
In the aftermath of an historic second straight appearance at the U Sports Nationals, Grenier enjoyed one more accolade. With the thrill of the Red and Black Award, a team honor that served as celebrated closure for the graduating forward, she belonged to a group of team award recipients including goaltender Kendra Woodland, earning MVP honors to complement her Brodrick Trophy win, plus Rookie of the Year McKenzie Keenan. Taking into account that Keenan also earned one of the assists on Cyr’s goal, the linkage of team award wins between Grenier and Keenan may serve as a bridge for continued success. Undeniably, Grenier brought a perseverance to the program and a dignity to the captaincy, setting a highly admirable standard that future captains shall strive towards.
“It is a great feeling to have been able to repeat as AUS champions, but this year was extra special for me. Having missed a substantial amount of last season due to injury it was nice to be more involved. Additionally, I felt as though I was contributing more to the teams on-ice success this season. With this year being my last, it is nice to be able to cap off my hockey playing career with one more championship.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”