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Rebecca Clark Remarkable in Historic Bronze Medal for Huskies

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Raised north of Toronto in the community of Keswick, Clark had shown great promise between the pipes as a member of the Durham West Lightning in the PWHL. Of note, her 1.38 goals against average and .926 save percentage placed her among the top goaltenders in the league. A pair of playoff shutouts against the Ottawa Lady Senators would also foreshadow the playoff glories to come in her university career.

Competing for the Satin Mary’s Huskies in Halifax, Clark would dazzle as a freshman goalie, contributing towards an Atlantic University Sport (AUS) postseason crown. It was a postseason that resulted in many postseason, as Clark proved why the honor of AUS Rookie of the Year was bestowed upon her.

A semi-final series against St. Francis Xavier saw Clark shine in a triple overtime affair. Standing between the pipes for 91:39, Clark and opposing goaltender Sojung Shin may have played the most tense yet exciting game of the entire season as both combined for shutout play in regulation time and the first two overtime periods. Mary Worndl would log the series clinching goal as Clark made 34 saves in one of the greatest performances of her young career. While St. Thomas would push the Huskies to a third and deciding game in the AUS finals, Clark allowed only goal in a 21 save effort that saw the Huskies prevail in a decisive 5-1 outcome.

Specializing in Environmental Science studies, she would become the fourth player in Huskies program history to capture AUS Rookie of the Year honors, which includes current teammate Breanna Lanceleve, the recipient in 2014. Clark would also gain a spot on the CIS All-Rookie Team.

Along with Huskies teammates Hayley Hallihan and Kiana Wilkinson, Clark was also named to the AUS All-Rookie Team. It was a season that saw many members of the Huskies haul hockey hardware. Head coach Chris Larade was not only recognized as the AUS Coach of the Year, he would go on to claim CIS Coach of the Year honors. In addition, Sarah Douglas, Breanna Lanceleve and Kelty Apperson were AUS First-Team All-Stars while Jessica McCann grabbed Second-Team honors.

Clark would lead all AUS goaltenders with 13 wins, while her .813 winning percentage trailed only Emilie Bouchard of Les Aigles Bleues de Moncton. Her 1.86 goals against average would tie Gabrielle Forget of Moncton for second in the conference while her .914 win percentage ranked seventh overall. Overall, she would rank in the top five in six major goaltending categories. Through it all, she shows great maturity and team spirit as she credits her teammates for such a sensational rookie season,

“To be named AUS Rookie of the Year and to be named on the CIS All-Rookie team is an amazing honor and I know I will never forget it but it was not just me playing. I had the team in front of me giving everything they had game in and game out so it was my chance to show them that I am willing to do the same thing for them. I couldn’t have done anything if it wasn’t for them.”

Making her Huskies debut in the third period of a September 21, 2015 match against the Dalhousie Tigers, Clark would not allow one goal in a relief appearance for Rebecca Weagle. Coincidentally, Dalhousie would play a role once again in Clarkson’s freshman season.

Gaining the start in an October 4 road contest against the Tigers at Halifax Forum, Clark would face 21 shots in a 6-2 final, the first win of her Huskies career. Of note, Clark would allow her first AUS goal to Joleen MacInnis, which was scored on the power play.

Although a hard-fought 6-5 loss against Moncton would follow for Clark, she would reel off an impressive streak, where she won 10 consecutive starts. Starting on October 21, said streak would begin with a 2-1 win against Dalhousie as Breanna Lanceleve scored both goals for the Huksies.

With a pair of wins against St. Francis Xavier, Dalhousie, Mount Allison and St. Thomas along with wins against Moncton, Prince Edward Island, Clark’s ten-game win streak would last until January 3, 2016.

Perhaps the highlight of such a monumental streak would take place on November 1. Opposing Kristy Brown of PEI, Clark would need only 15 saves as she registered her first career shutout in a 3-0 final that saw Mary Worndl, Hannah Askin and Sarah Douglas contribute goals.   

Before the streak would expire, Clark would earn a second shutout. Registering 18 saves, Clark would emerge victorious in a 2-0 final on November 22 against St. Thomas as Laura Polak scored twice. Of note, St. Thomas would also play the role of spoiler as they snapped Clark’s streak with a 4-2 home win on January 9.

Winning four of her last five starts, Clark helped St. Mary’s clinch first overall in the regular season standings, finishing one point ahead of Moncton. Although Clark remains very humble about her success, her positive attitude and timely saves translated into a season to remember,

“Every season I go into I want to make it a good one and this year, things clicked with the team and we were able to pull off a great season. The team as a whole stood out for me, we have some very strong personalities and some quieter personalities but we stepped up as a group, which made me push myself harder because I knew I was not just playing for me but all 21 of us, especially our three graduating players.”

Greater glories were in store for Clark and her Huskies teammates at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) nationals, their first appearance since 2010. The first game saw the Huskies in an underdog situation, facing off against the defending national champion Western Mustangs. Considering that goaltender Kelly Campbell (the 2015 MVP of the CIS Nationals) was between the pipes for the Mustangs, whose hockey resume was among one of the finest of all the players in competition at the nationals, Clark was fearless as she made 26 saves in a 1-0 upset. Caitlyn Schell scored the game-winner, while Clark added to her growing legend.

Although the semifinals would see a hard-fought 3-2 loss against the eventual national champion Carabins de Montreal, which saw the Huskies outshoot their opponents in the second and third period, Clark would rebound in grand fashion. Competing against the Guelph Gryphons, which featured Brodrick Trophy winner Valerie Lamenta, in the bronze medal game of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) nationals, it was a matchup of two outstanding goaltenders, perhaps a peak into the future where both may one day oppose each other for the gold medal.

Clark would deliver on all accounts, registering an astounding 28 saves as she stymied a confident Guelph offense. Caitlyn Manning would be credited with the bronze medal clinching goal as Clark finished her heroic postseason ranking third in goals against and goals against average, while placing fourth in minutes played and save percentage.

Considering that the Huskies program had nearly collapsed due to budget concerns in 2011, winning just once in their first season back from the brink, the bronze medal brings the rebuilding full circle while adding a proud winning chapter to the history of Huskies athletics. With a solid season from Clark, not only have the Huskies found a cornerstone, someone whose goaltending gifts could maintain their new status as an AUS power, they have found a humble yet hardworking individual whose solid work ethic not only sets a positive example, but may set the gold standard for all goaltenders in CIS play.

“As a first year players, I think it is rather unbelievable to have the experience and chance to make it that far. It gives me chills at the thought of winning AUS and receiving a bronze medal at the CIS.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Image obtained from: http://www.localxpress.ca/news/2016/3/18/huskies-edge

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