Cougars hockey women undefeated
by Blaine Meller
Coming into the 2010-11 season, Scott Rivett, head coach of the Cougars women’s hockey team, knew what it would take for his squad to be successful: his players would have to buy into his system and messages quickly. If they did that, their chances of repeating as ACAC champions could be good.
Twelve games into the current season, it appears those messages are being received loud and clear. The Cougars sit in first place in the ACAC with an unblemished 11 win and one tie record, good enough for a 10-point lead over second-place SAIT (6-5-1). Additionally, the Cougars also sport the league’s most potent offence and stingiest defense, scoring 45 goals while yielding only 14.
“That’s something we’re fairly proud of,” Rivett said, referring to the Cougars’ goals-against- average. “Obviously we’re getting good goaltending and that has been a big part of it.” The goaltending Rivett talks about comes courtesy of Leanne Pfilger and Kendall Kilgour, currently first and second respectively in both league goals-against-average and save percentage. Even then, Rivett said there is more to Pfilger’s and Kilgour’s games.
“They’ve been making the big save when we’ve needed it. If you’re up in a game by one or two goals, that big save can be the difference,” he said. Offensively, the Cougars have been scoring by committee. At press time, Mount Royal boasts 10 of the top 20 league scorers overall, and five of the top seven when it comes to rookies.
Tied for the league lead in scoring is Chrissy Hodgson, who has four goals and 16 points. Rounding out the Cougars in the top-20 are Chelsey Morrill, Raylene Cutknife, Taralynn Suzuki, Tash Farrier, Sara Sharp, Hedi Syme, Megan Price, Tanika Dawson and Jesslyn Legasse. Cutknife is also the rookie scoring leader with seven goals and 10 points. Rivett said the Cougars have spent a significant amount of time practicing their neutral zone play, something he feels has contributed to their success.
“So much of the game is spent between the bluelines. We’ve been really working on how we pressure when we don’t have the puck, and how we approach the attack when we do,” he said. “It’s paying attention to the details.” Those details have also translated to success on special teams, where the Cougars are ranked first on the powerplay and second on penalty killing.
Being undefeated, Rivett is aware of the potential for complacency. He said the team would combat that by continuing to work on their consistency and systems, and by focusing on the “big picture.” “The girls are really proud of what they’ve achieved so far, and we want it to continue. We know there are no easy nights, and we can’t look to what might happen,” he said. “We have to continue to work hard and focus on our next game. The rest will take care of itself.”