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U Sports summer headlines

Canadian schools make moves to shake up their teams

UBC Thunderbird players celebrate a goal
Rich Lam

Potomak to Trinity Western

This off-season’s most significant player move came at the start of April. Star forward Amy Potomak of NCAA DI’s Minnesota Golden Gophers committed her last year of collegiate eligibility to Trinity Western University in British Colombia. After completing her degree in Kinesiology at Minnesota, Potomak has chosen to continue her studies in Canada. She’ll join the Spartans women’s hockey team for the 2022-23 Canada West season.

Over four NCAA seasons, Amy Potomak was just below a point per game. In her senior year, she scored 35 goals in 39. She will be a dominant scoring force this year in Canada West, bringing elite-level talent to the league.

2021-22 was Trinity Western’s first year in U Sports hockey, and they struggled to keep up, posting a measly 2-18-1-0 record. The team will look to improve on that, and adding a clear number one forward will certainly help. Potomak will also prove an invaluable resource for developing young players.

Potomak’s older sister Sarah is also a student at Trinity Western, where she came after her career in the NCAA. Sarah joined the Spartans as an assistant coach when she came to the school last year. She trains with the team and competes in the PWHPA.

Winds of Change at Carleton

Former head coach Pierre Alain and the Carleton Ravens parted ways after another poor season that ended with an eight-game skid. The team failed to make the playoffs for the ninth season in a row, including all eight of Alain’s seasons. The team’s most recent season featured an exceptionally young group of players whom Alain hoped would mature into a thriving core. Alain failed to prove he could lead a group to success and, after nearly a decade of trying, won’t get another chance with the ravens.

Stacey Colarossi will step behind the bench for the 2022-23 RSEQ season as the new Ravens head coach. Colarossi brings a wealth of development and coaching experience to Carleton. She served as head coach at Laurentian for the duration of the program’s existence, building the team from the ground up. More recently, Colarossi served behind the bench of the KRS Vanke Rays of the ZhHL and the Chinese National Team at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

With most of Carleton’s roster spots already spoken for, Colarossi will have her work cut out, developing a young squad. Colarossi has several challenges to address, including Carleton’s lack of a scoring threat, poor defensive structure, and wavering motivation.

MacLeod serving double duty

After her first season as the head coach of the Calgary Dinos, Carla MacLeod’s name was again in the news. On April 19th, the Czech Women’s Ice Hockey Team announced her hiring as head coach. Questions were speculated about what this meant for her role with the Dinos, but Macleod was quick to reassure that she was not leaving the U Sports team. With limited overlap, MacLeod will serve as head coach of both the Dino’s and Czech Women’s National Team. The former Canadian national is boosting an already impressive resume as the first woman to lead the Czechs behind the bench.

She is supported at Calgary by a strong coaching staff who would be more capable of stepping into larger roles if needed. Experienced coach Josh Gosling serves as an associate, and PWHPA players Kelty Apperson and Samantha Cogan serve as assistant coaches.

Donaldson Steps Back at UPEI

Coach Bruce Donaldson is stepping down from behind the bench of the UPEI Panthers after an astonishing 16 seasons as the head coach. Donaldson won an AUS championship, an AUS coach of the year award, and a Universiade silver medal over the course of his U Sports coaching career.

Sean Fisher - a young coach earning his first head coaching gig at the U Sports level - will be stepping into Donaldson’s shoes. Fisher spent six seasons between 2014 and 2020 as an assistant coach with the University of Manitoba. The team went to the national championship in 2018 and again in 2019 while he was interim head coach. This past hockey season, Fisher took his talents to Europe, where he had success as the head coach of Austrian club EHV Sabres Wien.

Fisher takes over a strong UPEI team whose fourth-place finish and strong young players look poised to take a step forward next year.