Sarah Nurse hails from Hamilton, Ont. where she and her athletically gifted family have represented Canada in hockey and basketball.
Her cousin Kia Nurse made her Olympic debut for Canada Basketball at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil and recently completed her first professional season with the New York Liberty. Kia’s older brother Darnell was drafted seventh overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Sarah’s younger brothers Elijah and Issac are also competitive hockey players in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Nurse and her family proudly represent the growing diversity in ice hockey especially.
“For me, I think it’s just making kids realize that they can think outside the box and if they want to do things that aren’t really the norm, it’s OK,” Nurse told The Ice Garden shortly after returning from her first Olympic Games in PyeongChang this past winter.
No doubt she will still be a role model for young hockey players who, perhaps because of their race or gender, are made to believe hockey isn’t for them.
In large part due to her athletic family, Nurse opted to travel southwest and play college hockey for the University of Wisconsin.
“I think it was a no brainer for me,” said Nurse about selecting the Badgers program. “The facilities, the Badger spirit, and that university was second to none in the NCAA for women’s hockey.”
Nurse became part of the Badger legacy in her four years in Madison. She tallied a career 137 points (76 goals, 61 assists) in 148 games for Wisconsin. She ranks eighth in career goals and is tied for third in short-handed goals (7) for the Badgers. Nurse also won three consecutive WCHA Conference Titles and reached the Frozen Four every season of her college career.
On Wednesday, the Toronto Furies announced Nurse had pre-signed for the upcoming season. The Hamilton-native is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, so perhaps the partnership between the two teams influenced her decision just a bit.
The Furies have posted a sub-.500 season for the past four seasons and with the addition of the two teams in China in 2017-18, their record left them out of the postseason. In the past five seasons, the Furies have only had multiple players score double-digit goals once (Emily Fulton, 12; Carolyne Prevost, 10 in 2017-18).
In non-Olympic years, Natalie Spooner often does the heavy lifting offensively for the Furies. The addtion of Nurse will add a proven scorer to the lineup that can create another threat that opponents will likely mark. Her strength and speed will allow her to withstand defensive pressure enough to create opportunities for herself or her teammates.
We are thrilled to announce our first pre-sign and our first overall pick in the 2018 @TheCWHL draft, from Wisconsin, Olympian, Nurse @nursey16 A star at every level she's played, she will make a huge impact in the city of Toronto #TorontoStrong #SheIsMyHero #TorontoFuries pic.twitter.com/wSh2CiwWeR— Toronto Furies (@TorontoCWHL) August 22, 2018
Toronto hopes to turn a new leaf with CWHL co-founder and former Furies goaltender Sami Jo Small as the new general manager. The Furies also brought in former Team Canada defender Courtney Kessel (nee Birchard) as the new head coach.
In addition to pre-signing Nurse, Small and Kessel have inked Shiann Darkangelo and Elaine Chuli for the 2018-19 season.
Is This Ranking Too High or Too Low
Nurse finishes on the 2018 list one spot back from her ranking last year. Last year, TIG writer Kevin Colelli felt her 2018 ranking would depend on her performance in the Olympics.
Nurse scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over the United States in the preliminary round of the Olympic tournament. However, a goal in her first Olympics wasn’t enough to maintain the seventh spot.
I continue to believe there are players who reached our top five this season that are ranked too high, potentially impacting the rankings. However, Sarah Nurse in the top ten seems fair.
What do you think about Nurse’s ranking? Be sure to follow the complete 2018 Top 25 Under 25 list. Comment if you agree or disagree with the rankings as they stand.