By Ryan Laverty
"It’s still hard to pull the puck out of the net," she sighed.
Since coming to the University of Calgary in September 2000 Tonya Young has retrieved a lot of rubber from the twine but the Airdrie native has not let it destroy her positive demeanor.
"I knew coming in that the first few years were going to be tough here," said the sophomore women’s hockey goalie. "But Calgary is a great place to be. It’s where all the best women’s hockey players in the country eventually end up."
Having played hockey for aboutfour years, Young makes no bones about wanting to one day play for Canada but she is also fully committed to her Dinos squad for the time being. No stranger to the national scene-she once backed her ringette team to a Canadian national title-the 19-year-old economics student is hopeful her young squad will one day return to prominence in Canadian Interuniversity Sport. But she’s also realistic.
"It is tough to recruit players to this team because girls aren’t allowed to play for the university if they play AAA," she said of the Canada West rule influenced by the University of Alberta. "The best players coming here are usually coming for the national team or for the Oval Extreme."
So, it’s been an uphill battle and it will continue that way for sometime for the women’s hockey team. Head Coach Kathy Berg understands the team’s plight and her infectious, up-beat nature has seemed to rub off on the struggling squad. Despite having won only a single game this season Berg is happy with her team’s performance thus far.
"Everyone here knows we can’t measure success by wins. So we don’t take losses too hard," said the jovial coach. "We have already made huge strides over last season. For us to hold U of A to 7–0 and 5–1 wins is a strong performance by our standards."
If you consider where she’s coming from-consistent double-digit defeats at the hands of the Pandas last season-you’d agree. And while the outcomes are determined by the entire team, it doesn’t hurt when your goalie stands on her head. The Pandas fired over 100 shots at the Dinos net in this season’s first meeting and only managed 12 markers. Not a bad save percentage by any means.
"This team is a totally new composition this year," said Young of the team’s abundance in rookies. " We only have six girls back from last year and it has made for a great new team chemistry.
"Even if scores start to get out of hand, this team never gives up."
The Dinos’ never say die attitude will serve them well this weekend when they travel to the Winnipeg to take on the eighth ranked University of Manitoba Bison. While not quite the offensive powerhouse from Alberta, Manitoba’s 26 goals on the season shame Calgary’s six which means Young may be doing a lot more puck retrievals. But for her and the rest of the squad, no matter what the scoreboard says, it won’t be enough to break their spirits.