With any draft class, a gathering of prospective players bring a group of wide-ranging achievements, equally devoted towards the influence of a championship. Among the players selected by the Brampton Thunder in the 2016 CWHL Draft Class, Taylor Woods brings on the realization that the path forward is one illuminated with optimism.
Raised in Manitoba, Woods established herself as one to watch while playing with the prestigious Notre Dame Hounds program, capturing the 2011 Esso Cup. Within less than a year, she would add gold at the 2012 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds, becoming only the second player to do so. Coincidentally, it was another Manitoban that was the first to accomplish that feat; Brigette Lacquette, a 2015 CWHL Draft selection.
Simultaneously, the arrival of Woods to the Thunder results in the continuation of a unique theme, one that has overlapped among several teams and subsequently, previous drafts. The impact of Cornell women’s ice hockey represents an expansive history for Big Red athletics, a telling story of the talented women that have transformed the program into a national power, a point of pride for the Ivy League school based in Ithaca, New York.
During that time, Woods made many significant contributions, earning ECAC All-Tournament team honors, and Second Team All-Ivy, respectively. Accumulating 80 career points with the Big Red, along with 13 power play goals and six game-winning goals, Woods appeared in over 130 games. Her leadership shone in her senior season while showing some offensive brilliance. Among her finest performances, Woods would prove to be the catalyst for the Big Red’s come-from-behind 2-1 victory on November 6, 2015. Playing against the nationally ranked Princeton Tigers, Woods would find the back of the net twice in the final 76 seconds, providing Cornell its first win of the season. Before the month would expire, Woods would score at least one goal in each of Cornell’s wins at the Windjammer Classic, gaining a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
Of note, her last multi point effort involved a solid three point performance on February 12, 2016 in a 4-2 final against Brown. The highlight of Woods’ performance included an assist on the game-winning goal, scored by Anna Zorn, helping head coach Doug Derraugh reach career win 199. The final goal in her Big Red career took place on February 20, 2016, a 3-2 home win against Harvard. Scoring the game’s first goal (on the power play), she would score such a milestone goal against Emerance Maschmeyer, a former teammate on Canada’s U18 national team.
Selected 23rd overall in the 2016 edition of the CWHL Draft, Woods was one of two alums from Cornell University to be selected among the top 25 players. Of note, she joined blueliner Cassandra Poudrier, a second round pick of Les Canadiennes de Montreal.
Since the landmark 2012 CWHL Draft, a total of 12 Big Red alumnae have landed among the top 25 draft picks taken. Among such stars, Rebecca Johnston captured the Angela James Bowl (awarded to the league’s top scorer), while Brianne Jenner captained the Calgary Inferno to the 2016 Clarkson Cup, which also featured Big Red alum Jillian Saulnier. While the Big Red have provided what seems like an endless supply of elite talent, Brampton’s selection of Woods adds to such a spectacular legacy, a great point of pride for her.
“Absolutely! I am proud to be a Cornell alumni, and a part of the handful of Cornell women’s hockey alumni that has been drafted in the CWHL. Cornell has been a fierce competitor in the ECAC for the last 6 to 8 seasons now, and it is because of the people, both past and present players, staff, and fans, who created it over the last 46 years. Cornell provided a culture for all of these players to come together and share each other’s passion for the game.
The number of Cornell players represented in the CWHL over these last 10 seasons does not only speaks highly of Cornell and their women’s hockey program, but for the players in the league. This legacy will be much easier to carry because of their leadership, diligence, and generosity. Words can’t describe how thankful for what Cornell has provided me over my last 4 years, and the opportunity for me to meet, play, and become friends with many great and special individuals.”
Quite possibly the most rewarding element of Woods rookie season with the Thunder shall be the opportunity to skate alongside a pair of players who were part of a treasured milestone in her career. Prior to her university career in the ECAC conference, she experiences the triumphant glory of a world championship. As a member of Canada’s U18 women’s national team, she captured only Canada’s second-ever gold medal at the IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds.
Playing for head coach Pierre Alain, Woods was joined by several other players who would follow their golden glories with storied careers at the ECAC level. Among them were Erin Ambrose, who would capture a national title with Clarkson in 2014 (selected by the Furies in the second round) and goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer, who would rewrite several of Harvard’s goaltending records (claimed by Calgary in the first round).
In addition, fellow Team Canada players Shannon MacAulay, Laura Stacey and Morgan Richardson (who would be Woods’ teammate at Cornell) also enjoyed careers at the ECAC level. While Ambrose and Maschmeyer shall remain rivals at the CWHL level, the divergent paths and celebrated careers MacAulay and Stacey boldly reunite with Woods in Brampton, all elevating towards a higher level of hockey, intertwined in a collective goal towards Clarkson Cup glory.
Of note, MacAulay would go on to become the captain at ECAC rival Clarkson, gaining fame for scoring the game-winning goal in the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four title game, was Brampton’s second round pick. Known as the great-granddaughter of Hockey Hall of Famer King Clancy, Stacey carved an admirable career as a soild playmaker for the Dartmouth Big Green, another perpetual contender for the ECAC title. Of note, Stacey was claimed in the first round by Brampton, providing Woods with heartfelt reflections of their initial sojourn as teammates, complemented by a sincere pride of the privilege that comes with donning the Maple Leaf.
“Again, yes. It was fun, but a pain to play against them over the last 4 years because they are the type of players you want on your team. Not only do they have talent that flies off the chart, but they are just overall great teammates, and fun people to be around. There has been some friendly rivalry built up while at college, but I am probably safe to say that we all are truly proud of what we accomplished together when we won gold in Zlin. I am very excited to get the opportunity to play with them again.”
As Woods eagerly contemplates the season to come, there is no question that she may prove to be one of the draft’s most pleasant surprises. With a profound appreciation for the game and the path laid before her by past players, such maturity and acumen are only enhanced by a remarkable display of on-ice skill highlighted by her versatility. Bringing a fundamentally sound game, her unselfish play is one that has seen her immersed in taking on any role possible in the name of teamwork.
While at Cornell, such an approach was braided in an offensive and defensive game, as Woods also occasionally played on the blueline. Regardless of where she was situated on the ice, she remained able to masterfully epitomize her flair for special teams play, while gaining a reputation as a solid competitor in the face-off circle.
“This whole process has been surreal for me. As a kid, I was the one that would say that I wanted to play in the NHL as a professional when I grew up. Of course, people would just smile at me and laugh knowing how unrealistic that dream was – but little did they know. Now I get the honour of trying out and potentially becoming a professional player in the CWHL and living out my little kid dream began 15 years ago. One thing that I am looking forward to about playing in the CWHL is that I can really show my love and passion for the game across, both on and off the ice, and give back to the game like many of people have done for me.
The CWHL is one of the leaders in Canada for the growth of the women’s game and I am very excited to be a part of it. As cliche as it sounds, I am also looking forward to being a part of a team and representing something bigger than the sum of its parts. Teams that come together, win together, and since hockey is an interdependent game, it is crucial for success. It got me really excited that I could be a part of the Brampton Thunder after talking to a few people about the team atmosphere, and watching clips from their previous games. I am excited to become teammates and play with people that are like-minded, and are willing to do anything for the team. There are a lot of challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and I am looking forward to growing as a player and person with a great organization.”
"All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated"
Image obtained from: http://www.cornellbigred.com/