It’s been nearly a month since the University of Lethbridge cut its Pronghorns hockey programs, a surprise announcement that left the dreams of Meg and Mallory Dyer in jeopardy.
The Calgary products thought they had achieved their ultimate goal in October, when younger sister Mallory signed with Meg’s Pronghorns, and the pair was eagerly anticipating becoming teammates in the fall of 2020.
But on April 20, the U of L shocked more than 50 student athletes and coaches with the announcement that the university would no longer have a men’s or women’s varsity hockey program.
“It took a long time for it to really sink in,” said Meg Dyer, who had just completed her second season with the Pronghorns.
“At first there was a lot of push-back, and a lot of people voice their opinions — especially towards the university — and I think a lot of people thought maybe there was a chance that this could come back.”
Like everyone affected by the cut, both sisters were left unsure of what their hockey futures held.
For the younger Dyer sister, her U SPORTS career looked to have ended before it had even started.
“It all of a sudden it became kind of real that it was really done, and I was kind of going to have to change my mindset… and just try and find a place to go,” said Mallory.
“I wasn’t really sure if I would be able to even play U SPORTS.”
Nine days after the initial announcement, following major backlash, the university announced that a committee had been formed to explore the future of Pronghorns hockey.
But U SPORTS rules dictate that teams have to wait two full years between discontinuing participation and reapplying, so it became clear to the Dyers that it was time to find another program.
Determined to continue their hockey careers, whether it be together or apart, the stress of dealing with a whole new recruiting process was eliminated when the sisters were contacted by Steve Kook, the head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
“He had offered us both positions together,” said Meg.
“I think that was really important to us to be able to play together… it’s a dream of ours and we’re really lucky to have found somewhere to play together.”
The Dyers will join a Huskies team that finished third in Canada West and 24 points ahead of the Pronghorns in 2019-2020.
The sisters say they are excited to join such a strong program, and getting to do it together is more than they could have ever hoped for.
“We’re pretty lucky, and our parents really love being able to go to the same place to watch both their kids, and to have both of us playing for the same team,” said Meg.
The pair plans to live together in Saskatoon, and are definitely not worried about getting sick of each other.
“We love spending time together,” laughed Mallory.
“We work together, we live together, we used to share a room,” Meg added. “We do everything together.”
“The best thing that we could do together is actually play hockey and wear the same jersey and represent the same program together.”
The Dyer sisters are now two of a handful of former Pronghorns who have found new programs to commit to.
Sage Sansregret and Mila Verbicky are both heading to Grant MacEwan University, as well as men’s players Mackenzie Mindus (Nipissing), Kyle Gordon (York), Taz Burman (Alberta), Cameron Trott (Grant MacEwan), and Taylor Fisher (Regina).
“You’re just happy that everyone is finding places to play and continue their careers,” said Fisher, who joins the Regina Cougars after three seasons with the ‘Horns.
“I think the biggest thing was that we were all kind of worried that we had played our last hockey game without knowing it.”
The U SPORTS and Canada West seasons will look slightly different in 2020-2021, with Canada West announcing revised, one-time formats due to COVID-19.