By Julianna Cummins
So this is what a fairy tale season looks like.
Since their first win over five months ago the Stingers, Ryerson’s women’s hockey team, never looked back. The team capped a near-perfect inaugural season with a perfect ending by winning the Tier 4 championship Sunday against opponents Muskoka Bound.
The squad beat Muskoka 5-0 at York University for their 21st win of the season. The players were familiar with their rivals as Muskoka handed the Ryerson team their only two losses to date in their first two games.
“We skated them into the ground. The game started 20 minutes late, so we had all that time to warm up,” said centre Diana Cholakov.
“The other team just went back into the dressing room to sit down after a while, but we just kept warming up.”
The extra work paid off. Cholakov scored two of the team’s five goals and forwards Tessa Dimitrakopoulos, Lindsay Ainsworth, Stephanie Poulin added a goal each.
Although they aren’t yet an official varsity team, the Stingers were the only Ryerson team to win a championship this year. The team, made up of volunteer players, set the bar high for future team’s with Sunday’s win.
Coach Harvey Poulin was impressed with the squad’s composure on Sunday considering their schedule.
“Usually at the end of a season this long, there’s generally friction between players and these girls didn’t have any of that,” he said.
“The way they played yesterday was every coach’s dream.”
Although Poulin will be remaining with the team next year, he won’t be head coach. Ryerson recently hired Stephanie White, head coach of the Mississauga Chiefs and assistant coach of the under-22 Canadian women’s hockey team, to lead the Stingers in the new season.
“We are having a coach coming in that specializes in player development and recruitment,” said Liz Devine, the athletic administrator for the Stingers.
“Girls will want to come to this team to be able to play with her.”
The team will not be considered for varsity status until 2010, but their extremely successful year has strengthened their hopes of eventually joining Ontario University Athletics.
Next year, the team has a chance to move up in divisions, from Tier 4 to Tier 2, which is a more competitive level.
Poulin is confident the team will be able to step up their style of play and he is proud of the team’s achievements this year.
“It was amazing. It turned out to be better than my first day on the job,” said Poulin. “They came together and we pulled off a really good season.”