MONTREAL (U SPORTS) – Kendra Woodland of the UNB REDS has been named the winner of the Brodrick Trophy as the player of the year in U SPORTS women’s hockey. The announcement was made on Wednesday night at the All-Canadian Awards Ceremony in Montréal, the host city of the 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship.
Other major award winners include Sydney Mercier of Calgary, who was named Rookie of the Year; Eve Leblanc of Saint Mary’s, who won the Marion Hilliard Award for student-athlete community service; and Vicky Sunohara of Toronto, who was named the Fox40 Coach of the Year.
The 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship gets underway on Thursday afternoon at the CEPSUM Arena, on the campus of the Université de Montréal in Montréal, Québec, and play continues through to the gold medal game, which is set for 7 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Sunday. All 11 games of the tournament can be viewed on CBC Sports digital platforms (English) and at usports.ca (French).
Brodrick Trophy (player of the year) – Kendra Woodland, UNB
Fourth-year goaltender Kendra Woodland of UNB captured the Brodrick Trophy as the U SPORTS women’s hockey player of the year.
A recreation and sports studies student from Kamloops, B.C., Woodland led the country in save percentage (.960). Her dominant play between the posts helped UNB finish the regular season at the front of the pack with a 23-5 record, and she continued that form into the playoffs, leading UNB to their second straight AUS title. She recorded 456 saves and a 1.10 goals-against average, the fourth-lowest GAA in the country. Her 0.824 win percentage was also fourth in Canada.
In addition to her play for UNB, she helped Canada win a gold medal in women’s hockey at the 2023 FISU World Winter University Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. In four games, she had three shutouts, posted a 0.25 GAA, and a 0.984 save percentage.
Woodland is the first player from UNB to win the Brodrick Trophy. She was named to the U SPORTS All-Rookie Team in 2019 and has been a key factor in the successful resumption of UNB women’s hockey since 2018.
The last AUS student-athlete to be named best in the country was STFX's Tyra Meropoulis in 2019-20.
Other nominees: Audrey-Anne Veillette (Montréal), Leah Herrfort (Waterloo), Tatum Amy (Mount Royal)
Rookie of the Year – Sydney Mercier, Calgary
Sydney Mercier led all rookies in scoring with nine goals and 11 assists for 22 points this season, immediately stepping into a major role for her Calgary Dinos.
Mercier was the second-leading scorer for the Dinos, helping them claw their way to fourth place in Canada West. She picked up steam down the stretch, pushing her team to eight wins in their final 10 games.
Aside from her offensive talents and grit, Mercier showed her all-around value. The Saskatoon product was a +13 in the regular season, despite her Dinos only posting five goals more than they allowed.
Mercier showed she knows how to shine in the big moments, putting together a special season that gives Calgary a lot to be excited about.
"We are incredibly proud of Sydney and thrilled she has received this recognition from U SPORTS,” said Carla MacLeod, the Calgary Dinos head coach. “Sydney gained confidence throughout the season, which was reflected in her play. She brings engaged energy to the rink every day. She loves the game. She is a student of the game. Her natural hockey sense and willingness to earn her opportunities have proven to be a good combination for both her individually, and for our program. She's a great teammate both on and off the ice and we are all excited to see what the future holds for her."
Other nominees: Orianna MacNeil (UPEI), Jade Picard (Montréal), Keana McKibbin (Windsor)
Marion Hilliard Award (student-athlete community service) – Eve LeBlanc, Saint Mary’s
Saint Mary's defender Eve LeBlanc has been awarded this year's U SPORTS Marion Hilliard Award for her academic, athletic and community contributions.
A fourth-year psychology student from Petit-Rocher, N.B., LeBlanc played 26 games for the Huskies during the 2022-23 regular season, recording one goal, 11 assists and a +12 plus/minus rating. A two-way defender, she led the team with an average of 23.15 minutes on the ice per game.
During all four seasons in the AUS, LeBlanc has earned Academic All-Canadian standing, currently sitting at a perfect 4.3 GPA for the 2022-23 academic year. She was the 2021 and 2023 recipient of the Student Leadership Recognition Award for Saint Mary's and has been named to the Faculty of Science's Dean's List three times.
LeBlanc is also a force in the community. She has volunteered with Ronald McDonald House Charities for the past four years, providing families in need with warm meals and activities. She's also served as a program assistant for Chebucto Connections: Pathways to Education after-school program, working with marginalized students. This year, LeBlanc also lent her time as a co-facilitator of a mental health series for Saint Mary's faculty and staff.
"Having just been accepted into UNB's doctorate program of clinical psychology, where the acceptance rate is 2% of all applicants, Eve is once again proving to herself and everyone that hard work always pays off," says Saint Mary's Huskies' head coach, Chris Larade. "She has been the absolute epitome of what this award stands for, as well as what all coaches aim to recruit to their U SPORTS programs."
LeBlanc is the first Huskies women’s hockey player to receive the Marion Hilliard Award. The last AUS student-athlete to take home the national honour was UNB's Jana Headrick (2021-22).
LeBlanc’s win, combined with that of fellow Husky Matt Welsh earlier on Wednesday, marks the first time that one school has swept both student-athlete community service awards in hockey.
Other nominees: Christina Colizza (McGill), Olivia Giardetti (Toronto Metropolitan), Tatum Amy (Mount Royal)
Fox 40 Coach of the Year – Vicky Sunohara, Toronto
For the third straight season, Vicky Sunohara has been named the U SPORTS Fox 40 Coach of the Year. Now in her 12th season as Blues bench boss, Sunohara guided the Blues to their second OUA McCaw Cup victory in the past three seasons.
This year, U of T reached a program-record 23 regular season wins, finishing atop the OUA East division with a 23-2-2 record. The Blues boasted the top powerplay (22.5%) and penalty kill (93.2%) in the conference in 2022-23. The Blues were ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the country for most of this season and are the top seed going into this week’s U SPORTS championship.
"Vicky is a proven leader," said Mary Beth Challoner, U of T's Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and High Performance Sport. "Her transition from a world-renowned player to a nationally recognized coach is an outstanding achievement. She took control of the program, identified gaps and has developed this team into a national contender for the past three seasons. I'm extremely happy for Vicky, and the team, that her work and talent are being recognized in this way."
Other nominees: Ben Berthiaume (STFX), Dominic Desmarais (Bishop’s), Howie Draper (Alberta)
First Team All-Canadians
|G||Kendra Woodland||UNB||4||Kamloops, B.C.||Recreation & Sports Studies|
|D||Lauren Dabrowski||STFX||2||Tiny, Ont.||Human Kinetics|
|D||Emma Bergesen||Mount Royal||3||Stavanger, Norway||Sociology|
|F||Audrey-Anne Veillette||Montréal||2||Drummondville, Que.||Kinesiology|
|F||Leah Herrfort||Waterloo||3||Palmerston, Ont.||Arts & Business|
|F||Maggy Burbidge||STFX||2||Falmouth, N.S.||Arts|
Second Team All-Canadians
|G||Halle Oswald||Alberta||4||Sanford, Man.||Arts|
|D||Carley Olivier||Waterloo||5||Sudbury, Ont.||Kinesiology|
|D||Hannah Koroll||UBC||4||Saskatoon, Sask.||Commerce|
|F||Tatum Amy||Mount Royal||5||Birtle, Man.||Health & Physical Education|
|F||Emmy Fecteau||Concordia||3||St-Odilon, Que.||Education|
|F||Shae Demale||Saint Mary’s||4||Red Deer, Alta.||Science|
|G||Kara Mark||Waterloo||New Hamburg, Ont.||Recreation & Sport Business|
|D||Orianna MacNeil||UPEI||Mabou, N.S.||Kinesiology|
|D||Jade Picard||Montréal||St-Narcisse-de-Beaurivage, Que.||Kinesiology|
|F||Sydney Mercier||Calgary||Saskatoon, Sask.||Medicine|
|F||Keana McKibbin||Windsor||High River, Alta.||Biomedical Science|
|F||Cassidy Rhodes||UBC||Ardrossan, Alta.||Kinesiology|