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March 9, 2011

Canadian icon Wickenheiser named player of the year

Photo credit Adam Gagnon

WATERLOO, Ont. (CIS) – First-year University of Calgary forward Hayley Wickenheiser was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport player of the year in women's hockey, Wednesday night.

The native of Shaunavon, Sask., became the first-ever Dino to claim the Brodrick Trophy as CIS MVP. A three-time Olympic gold medallist and six-time world champion, Wickenheiser returned to school last September to complete her degree in kinesiology.

Other CIS major award winners announced at the All-Canadian Banquet at the Turret Lounge on the campus of Wilfrid Laurier University were St. Francis Xavier forward Alex Normore of Bedford, N.S., who was named the nation's top rookie; Brock's Jim Denham of Mississauga, Ont., who claimed coach-of-the-year honours; as well as Mount Allison's Andrea Switalski of Stittsville, Ont., who received the Marion Hilliard Award recognizing excellence in hockey, academics and community involvement.

The 2011 CIS championship gets under way on Thursday in Waterloo, Ont., with the first of three days of round-robin action, and culminates on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. with the gold-medal final. SSN Canada will have live webcasts of all nine games from the tournament.

Championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wice

Video courtesy of Laurier Athletics

BRODRICK TROPHY (player of the year): Hayley Wickenheiser, Calgary

Wickenheiser made headlines nationally when she elected to join the Dinos this season, then made red lights turn on in rinks across Western Canada en route to winning the top individual honour in CIS. In addition to taking home the Brodrick Trophy, she joined former Olympic teammate Kelly Bechard (1998), currently an assistant coach with the program, as UofC players to have been named first-team all-Canadians.

Playing just 15 of 24 conference games due to injury and commitments with Team Canada, the Canadian hockey legend still managed to finish tied for the Canada West scoring lead with 40 points – the fifth-best total in the nation – and led the conference with 17 goals on the season. Her 2.67 points-per-game clip was easily the best in the country, and she was dangerous in all situations at all times. The 5-foot-9 forward recorded four short-handed goals on the year along with five game-winners and finished with a +22 rating – the best in Canada West in all three categories. She helped the Dinos to a third-place finish in the CWUAA thanks to a 16-6-2 record and 34 points, more than doubling their point tally from a year ago (16), when they placed sixth and out of the playoffs with a 7-15-2 mark.

After a 10-year absence from post-secondary education, Wickenheiser enrolled in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary and plans to attend medical school following her undergraduate degree.

"Everywhere we went this year, we saw the biggest crowds of the year because of Hayley," said Dinos head coach Danielle Goyette, another of Wickenheiser's former Olympic teammates. "That's a good sign. The more we talk about CIS women's hockey and the more exposure we get, the more we can build the sport.

"She had such a big impact on our team and our young players, not just on the ice but off the ice as well," Goyette went on. "Players learned habits and what they need to do to be better and how they have to perform on the ice and in the classroom. She is a great role model, she has a 4.0 at school, and everything she does she does as well as she can do. Other players see that and learn that if you want to be successful in life, you need to focus and be the best you can be. Wick is a perfect example of that."

Moncton forward Mariève Provost of Laval, Que., Concordia goaltender Audrey Doyon-Lessard of Charny, Que., and Brock forward Kelly Walker of Brampton, Ont., were the other nominees for the Brodrick Trophy.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Alex Normore, St. Francis Xavier

Normore is the first StFX player to be named CIS rookie of the year in women's hockey.

The 18-year-old human kinetics student was spectacular in her university debut leading all CIS freshmen in points (41) and assists (25) and all Atlantic conference rookies in goals (16 – second in CIS). Overall, the 5-foot-7 forward finished third in the country in points and helpers, and seventh in goals. Playing in all 24 games for the X-Women in the regular season, she scored four times on the power play, once short-handed and had two game-winners, while posting a +28 rating, third best in the AUS.

Despite her rookie status, Normore was a key component as the X-Women remained undefeated through the AUS regular schedule (24-0) and playoffs (3-0) en route to their first conference title since 2007-08. Her stellar play earned her a spot on the first AUS all-star team and a selection as a second-team all-Canadian.

"Alex played in all situations for us and was the first player we put out at crucial times in a game," said StFX head coach David Synishin. "She has great speed, sees the ice very well and can control a game offensively."

A trio of forwards comprised of McGill's Katia Clément-Heydra of St-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que., Wilfrid Laurier's Laura Brooker of Fergus, Ont., and Calgary's Jenna Smith of Swift Current, Sask., rounded out the list of finalists for top-rookie honours.

COACH OF THE YEAR, presented by Coaches of Canada: Jim Denham, Brock

Denham became the second Brock women's hockey coach to be honoured by his CIS peers, following Todd Erskine in 2004-05.

In his first season as interim head coach after two campaigns as an assistant with the team, he guided his troops to second place in the OUA standings with a stellar 22-5 conference record and 44 points, which nearly doubled the team's tally from a year ago, when the Badgers finished seventh with an 11-13-3 mark and 25 points. Led by OUA scoring champion Kelly Walker, Brock placed third in Ontario in both goals for (85) and fewest goals against (52) during the regular schedule.

Before joining the Badgers' women's program in 2008-09, Denham was an assistant with Brock's men's team for six seasons. He was also an assistant coach for three years with Niagara University's women's squad in the NCAA (Division 1), as well as head coach of the Ridley College Tigers girl's team for three campaigns and of the St. Catharines Jr. 'B' Falcons for two seasons. During his time at Ridley College, he led the Tigers to a pair of CISAA championships, a silver medal and bronze medal in the North American Prep Hockey Association, and a bronze medal at OFSAA.

Away from the rink, Denham is the president of DENCO Engineering Ltd., a company he started himself in 1985 a few years after graduating from the University of Waterloo with a B.A.Sc. in Civil Engineering.

"Jim's extensive background in hockey, his passion for coaching, his dynamic interaction with the student athletes, and great work ethic were integral ingredients to a successful season," said Brock interim director of athletics Chris Critelli. "Brock Athletics is very proud of the team and coaching staff's accomplishments."

Mount Allison's Zach Ball, McGill's Peter Smith and Alberta's Howie Draper were also in running for the award.

MARION HILLIARD AWARD (student-athlete – community service): Andrea Switalski, Mount Allison

Switalski is the first member of the Mounties to receive a CIS major award in women's hockey.

On the ice, the 5-foot-2 rearguard was an important part of a Mount Allison defensive unit that finished third in the Atlantic conference for least goals allowed, with 72 in 24 games (3.00 GAA). The fourth-year assistant captain played in all 24 regular season contests amassing two goals and five assists for seven points.

In the classroom, she has a current grade point average of 3.7 in her honours degree in geography and was the recipient of the university's Jack Drover Leadership Award.

Switalski's involvement in the community has been second to none since she arrived in Sackville, N.B., four years ago. As co-president of "Mounties in Motion", she tutors children in Grade 5 math class and takes part in various intramural sports. A teaching assistant at Tantramar Regional High School, where she volunteers in a Grade 9 English class, she is also involved with "Mounties for Heart", helping create and run workshops based on the topic of healthy teen relationship awareness and dating violence prevention. The Stittsville, Ont., native is also an instructor with the Sackville Minor Hockey Association, teaches at a summer hockey school, and is a student therapist with the Mounties' men's soccer team.

"I am very happy to see Andrea receive this recognition. She is very deserving of this award," said Mount Allison head coach Zach Ball. "Her volunteer work in the Sackville community seems endless, whether she is in a school, a hospital or a rink. Her efforts are a true reflection of her character."

Carleton rearguard Erica Skinner, a commerce student from Markham, Ont., York forward Automn Mills, an education student from London, Ont., and Lethbridge forward Megan Bach, a science student from Champion, Alta., were also nominated.

ALL-CANADIAN TEAMS

The all-Canadian teams were also announced on Wednesday.

Joining Wickenheiser on the first CIS squad were conference most valuable players Provost (AUS) and Walker (OUA), as well as McGill goaltender Charline Labonté of Boisbriand, Que., McGill defenceman Cathy Chartrand of Lac Nominingue, Que., and StFX rearguard Suzanne Fenerty of Cole Harbour, N.S.

Provost capped off her record-setting five-year career with a fourth selection as a first-team all-Canadian. The three-time Atlantic conference MVP led the nation in points (45) for the second straight campaign and established new CIS career marks with 110 goals and 220 points in 105 regular season games.

A two-time Olympic gold medallist alongside Wickenheiser, Labonté returned to the Martlets in 2010-11 after a one-year break from university hockey. She set a CIS career record with 37 shutouts in 67 conference outings en route to her fourth nod as a first-team CIS all-stars in four campaigns at McGill.

Chartrand, a former senior national team member and CIS championship MVP, became a three-time all-Canadian, including back-to-back first-unit selections.

In addition to Normore, the second CIS dream team for 2010-11 is comprised of Brock netminder Beth Clause of Hamilton, McGill blueliner Gillian Ferrari of Thornhill, Ont., Dalhousie defenceman Laura Shearer of Falmouth, N.S., and a duo of forwards including McGill's Ann-Sophie Bettez of Sept-Îles, Que., and Saskatchewan's Breanne George of Saskatoon.

Bettez, the 2007-08 CIS rookie of the year, has been named an all-Canadian each of her four seasons at McGill, including first-team nods in both '08-09 and '09-10.

George was also a member of the first squad a year ago. Ferrari, who was in her first season at McGill, won Olympic gold for Canada in 2002 and 2006.

Provost, Fenerty, Clause, Bettez and George helped Canada to a second straight Winter Universiade title in early February in Turkey.

Joining Normore on the season's all-rookie squad were Clément-Heydra and Brooker, as well as Toronto goalie Nicole Kesteris of Aurora, Ont., and the defensive pair of Wilfrid Laurier's Alannah Wakefield of Pickering, Ont., and StFX's Jenna Pitts of Antigonish, N.S.

2010-2011 CIS WOMEN'S HOCKEY AWARDS & ALL-CANADIANS

Brodrick Trophy (player of the year): Hayley Wickenheiser, Calgary
Rookie of the year: Alex Normore, St. Francis Xavier
Coach of the year, presented by Coaches of Canada: Jim Denham, Brock
Marion Hilliard Award (student-athlete – community service): Andrea Switalski, Mount Allison

First Team

Position - Athlete - University - Year - Hometown - Faculty

Goaltender Charline Labonté McGill 4 Boisbriand, Que. Physical Education
Defence Cathy Chartrand McGill 4 Lac Nominingue, Que. Physical & Health Education
Defence Suzanne Fenerty StFX 1 Cole Harbour, N.S. Business Adm.
Forward Hayley Wickenheiser Calgary 1 Shaunavon, Sask. Kinesiology
Forward Mariève Provost Moncton 5 Laval, Que. Kinesiology
Forward Kelly Walker Brock 5 Brampton, Ont. Phys. Education

Second Team

Goaltender Beth Clause Brock 5 Hamilton, Ont. Recreation & Leisure
Defence Gillian Ferrari McGill 5 Thornhill, Ont. Arts
Defence Laura Shearer Dalhousie 5 Falmouth, N.S. Sociology
Forward Ann-Sophie Bettez McGill 4 Sept-Iles, Que. Management
Forward Alex Normore StFX 1 Bedford, N.S. Human Kinetics
Forward Breanne George Saskatchewan 4 Saskatoon, Sask. Kinesiology

All-Rookie Team

Goaltender Nicole Kesteris Toronto 1 Aurora, Ont. Economics
Defence Alannah Wakefield Laurier 1 Pickering, Ont. Psychology
Defence Jenna Pitts StFX 1 Antigonish, N.S. Human Kinetics
Forward Alex Normore StFX 1 Bedford, N.S. Human Kinetics
Forward Katia Clément-Heydra McGill 1 St-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que. Industrial Relations
Forward Laura Brooker Laurier 1 Fergus, Ont. English

-CIS-

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