It’s the fresh start that the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns’ women’s hockey team needed after last season was overshadowed by a million-dollar lawsuit and the dismissal of their former head coach.
Now, under the guidance of Doug Paisley, the team looks refreshed and ready to make some noise as the Canada West hockey season begins Friday.
“In early discussion with the girls, I think they’re just ready to move forward,” said Paisley, who was appointed as the Horns’ new bench boss in May.
With the new coaching staff has come newfound success, including an undefeated record in a pre-season that saw the team go 5-0 and outscore opponents 14-5.
The team is almost unrecognizable from the group that won just seven of their 28 games last season.
“Doug brings a lot of positive things, a great attitude and tons of knowledge,” said Pronghorns captain Mattie Apperson. “I think it’s just great for us girls — especially the younger girls — getting a whole five years with him.
Paisley’s short tenure has brought a new level of accountability to the team, one which the veteran players find refreshing.
Paisley believes the Pronghorns’ roster has a good mix of returning players combined with rookies; of which the team has nine.
“Having some fresh faces, having some new energy is good, and having some veteran experience is a good contrast,” he said.
Beitkreuz and Apperson are two of six players who are entering their fifth and final year with the Pronghorns, and for the veteran group, it’s their last — and perhaps best — chance to make themselves heard in the league.
“We’re not messing around,” said Beitkreuz. “We want to go out with a bang.”
“We want to make the playoffs, we want to be a team that’s pushing for success this year. Obviously we haven’t had a lot of that in the past, and that makes us all the more motivated that this year is going to be the year that we’re going to have a lot of wins and we’re going to be a playoff team.”
The Pronghorns begin their season Friday night at Nicholas Sheran Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m.